Research, Design, User Testing
As a candidate for Google's UX Design internship, I had the opportunity to tackle their design exercise. The turnaround for this deliverable was roughly 1 week, encouraging prospects to think outside of the box and come up with viable solutions to a problem. The following is my approach to one of the prompts.
Your school wants to strengthen the community by encouraging experienced students to connect with new students and help them adjust to campus life. Design an experience that allows mentors and mentees to discover each other. Consider the needs of both mentors and mentees, including how someone may become a mentor and how to connect mentors to mentees.
Using the provided metrics, I synthesized my research and divided up my findings into four categories: Finance, academics, expression/identity, and social. These categories would help me understand the scope of the problem and thus formulate a primary design goal.
Students need to be able to practice freedom of expression
Students feel there is a need better financial resources and assistance. Financial aid information should be common knowledge.
Students need more efforts to improve academic quality and experience
Current students for the most part don’t feel part of a community, however new students seek community engagement
Campus activities and events are not promoted enough
After synthesizing my research, my first task was jotting down all of my ideas on paper. I grabbed my notebook and brainstormed ideas for UX features, mentor and mentee needs, and potential flows. I thought of multiple directions such as desktop, physical, or virtual reality solutions, though I stuck to an app under time constraints.
I decided to conduct a series of usability tests during the early, mid-fidelity stage to ensure my testers focused on the real nuts and bolts of information architecture and navigation flow. I could then take their feedback and iterate up to my high-fidelity prototype. I wanted to focus the usability testing on the onboarding process, since the majority of the app’s functionality depends on the matchmaking and setting up a unique user profile to make the experience more individualized.
Being that this was a case study for
Google, I sourced typography, colors, and iconography from their Material Design API. I wanted the final design to resemble Google's established design language with vibrant colors and clean, flat design.Try exploring the final prototype for yourself here!
Questions are now more personal rather than general in order to be inclusive to identity and perspective and more accurately match a mentor with a mentee. There would be more questions, however the prototype displays only a few.
“The more specific questions you ask the user, the more specific their match will be”
What was answered/solved?
The onboarding experience being too general and simple.
There is now a disclaimer stating the onboarding and matchmaking process will take a few minutes. This was done to be more conscious of the user’s time!
What was answered/solved?
By adding a disclaimer, users are allowed to come back later and they know what they are getting into before they start. This informs the user rather than surprises them.
In order to assist the matchmaking algorithm and ensure the user’s needs are met, giving the option to choose whether or not having a member of the same ethnicity, religious affiliation, gender, etc. is essential in making the user feel that their identity is important and meaningful rather than being matched with someone who is completely opposite from them.
The interface for the question pages are very minimal in style and interaction to focus on content and make sure the user completes the intended task without and issues or stress
The loading screen stating “we are matching you with your mentor/ee” is a deliberate choice to increase the perception that the product is personal, whereas an instantaneous display of the result after spending the time to answer the questions may make the user feel their work and time wasn’t productive.
Because Meetup allows users to meet and connect with other mentees and mentors, I didn’t want the user to forget about the purpose and intent behind having their own mentor.
Thus, throughout the the UI, there are elements that prioritize your mentor, such as always listing them first in the messages screen.
Having a groups page gives students the opportunity to find communities that fit their needs, whether that be for a specific class, hobby, etc. Similar to Course Advice and Queer Cal Pals, this is where new students and experienced students are allowed to engage with each other and establish impactful connections.
This page allows students to receive and offer advice or knowledge and find a sense of belonging, striving to provide solutions to the problems discussed earlier.
Since data shows students generally don’t feel connected to their campus socially and aren’t aware of what goes on, having a dashboard or feed aims to bridge the disconnect students feel by allowing students to share events, post questions, and meet each other.
After working on this case study for a week, I presented this app concept to the Google design team, where I was able to move forward in recruitment.
This project was a great opportunity that helped me realize what I could do under such tight time constraints. I had a great time designing a completely new platform from scratch that I wish I could have benefitted from during my first year of college. Looking back, I wish I had more time to conduct initial interviews to really flush out my research and better understand the needs of local students. Thank you for reading!