SAIC Mentor Connect

An engaging application that helps School of the art institute of Chicago (SAIC) students make a mentor-mentee relationship through personalized search.

Client
Google 
Design exercise 2020

My Role 
UX researcher

UX Designer

Timeline
7 Days 

Tools Used
Sketch, Adobe Illustrator
Principle

Overview

Prompt

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.

Design Process

Initial Thinking

Target Users

  • Students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago 

  • Less experienced students who need help to properly adjust to campus.

  • Experienced students who can become mentors to less experienced students.

Research Methods

  • Online survey (Google form)

  • In-person interview 

  • Research online

How might we questions

How might we make the experienced students and the new students go beyond sharing their experience and form a sustainable mentor-mentee relationship?

How might we help the students to discover each other based on their needs?

 

How might we create an efficient, user-friendly communication platform for the students?

 

How might we make the platform become a foundation for strengthening the school community?

User Research

Background Research  

Research Goals

  • Identify existing online and on-site platforms related to community building

  • Discover how the new students are connecting with experienced students.

  • Examine how the students developed their mentor-mentee relationship.

  • Analyze how the students are utilizing the current system.

  • Identify the strengths/potential of the current system.

Research 1 - Existing School Systems

Student orientations

An event where many different students can meet face-to-face and build a meaningful relationship.

 

Due to the busy schedule of students, the attendance rate is low. It is hard to develop it into a productive mentor-mentee relationship.

Too many events exist on various platforms, which makes it hard to find information efficiently. Many students are overwhelmed by too much information.

Organization Fair, Group Fair

Through a paid opportunity, the experienced students can directly meet with the freshmen and actively provide help to them.

It is a one-off, short-term opportunity, and it is hard to maintain a lasting, long-term relationship.

Student-driven events

organization Good for meeting other students who are interested in the same field.

 

It is hard to develop a mutually beneficial relationship since the number of weekly meetings within each club is different.

SAIC Engage

A site where you can get information about school events/clubs While the students can obtain information, there are no features that allow them to communicate with each other.

 

While they host various events such as a group fair to provide an ‘opportunity’ for communication, they do not function as a ‘platform’ for communication itself.

Social Media (Instagram / Facebook Page)

SAIC Handshake

Receiving information is the main purpose, not communication.

 

Impossible to identify the students’ needs.

 

Since there is no way to search other students through filters, it is difficult to establish a meaningful connection.

 

User Interview

Research 2 -  Student Surveys & Interviews

How strong do you feel the sense of community within the school is?

5.4

out of 10 average

Do you currently have a mentor at SAIC?

13.3%

have a mentor at SAIC

If you have a mentor, how did you find him/her/them?

  • Campus events

  • Social media

  • Residence Life

  • Class

Have you ever asked another student at SAIC for advice when you were a freshman?

How helpful was that experience? 

Are you still in contact with the student that you asked for advice?

70%

asked for advice

8.8

out of 10 average

8.8%

still in contact

 

Affinity Diagram

Pain Points

  • It is challenging to keep track of up to date information because of existing data on various platforms.

  • It is difficult to maintain an on-going relationship

  • For mentoring, it is difficult to find an available time for both mentor and mentee.

    Identify the strengths/potential of the current system.

  • One mentor, not one on one mentoring, has no opportunities to explain to multiple mentees.

  • Since there is no digital platform that is led from school for students and freshmen to communicate, most students form a mentor and mentee relationships in class.
     

Problem Statement

Students need a personalized and well-organized digital platform that can be easily engaged to share various school information and maintain a sustainable mentor-mentee relationship by discovering students who meet their needs.

 

Solution

A single, organized platform

  • Platform with a program for community building and mentor-mentee information

  • A function to provide up to date information and save only information that students want

  • A function to receive notifications and search for any wanted events.

  • A synchronized Google Calendar to check school events or mentoring schedules all at once

Effective mentoring process

  • Providing available time slots for mentors and mentees to have a conversation whenever they wish to.

  • Present student's status to on, off, busy.

  • When selecting Busy, students do not receive a mentoring request.

  • A group chat system to provide 1:1 mentoring and group mentoring.

  • Add message function within the application for the durability of mentor and mentee relationship and personal connection building.

Personalized search

  • When starting an application for the first time, the more efficient procedure of discovering a mentor and mentee that have the same interest by checking areas that need help and areas where they can provide support.

  • Confirmation of trending questions about areas of interest

  • Search by category according to major or interest

  • Confirmation of common questions through Discussion Page

User-friendly and engaging

  • Include school events in the application to increase the frequency of application usage.

  • Design that can easily navigate the application.

  • Release a limited amount of personal information as much as desired by the user to make them feel unburdened.

Design Decisions

Q. What is the most efficient digital platform?

A. Mobile Application 

 

Why?

The usage of messenger helps to maintain a constant mentor-mentee relationship. It is an excellent platform to check various Up to date information without having a regulation in location. Students' application utilization rates are high. According to the survey, students obtained school-related information through mobile phone applications such as
e-mail and social media.

Q. Is the Rating system necessary?

A. Exclude rating, and include only report system.

 

Why?

In the fun and engaging application, a system that allows students to leave a rating, review, or feedback can cause students to feel uncomfortable. According to the survey, many students answered they wanted to build a personal relationship through mentor-mentee relationships, and that leaving a score or a review of the conversation did not give them an impression of engaging. 

However, students can report to the school if they witness inappropriate behavior that goes against the school spirit. After the school's review, users might receive cumulative warnings and account blocks.

 

Prototype

Wireframe

Design Concept

Visual Identity

Home screen

 

Final Design

Messages

Making an appointment

Find mentors

Profile

A single, organized platform

  • The everyday schedule is displayed on the main screen so users won’t forget school events or mentoring programs.

  • A reminder notification will enable users to attend saved events.

  • Through the features of events, search mentors and search mentees, users can focus on searching their desired features. 

  • Trending questions in the area of ​​interest elevate communications between users and a student can also find answers to common questions.

Reminder notification

Log in

Edit profile

School events

Include school events in the application to increase the frequency of application usage.

  • Check the list of friends who will participate in the event together.

  • Filter feature allows users to check their only desired type of events.

Interaction Design

Personalized feeds for each user

  • After the first sign-in, users check the area where they can be a mentor or where they need a mentor. This information can be modified later.

  • Users can fill in basic information such as name, year, and major

Discover mentors

  • Find mentors’ past experiences or activities they participated in from their profile.

User feedback

User testing feedback

  • It’s convenient to find all the information on one platform.

  • It’s convenient to check events and mentoring schedules at a glance.

  • The feature to send reminders is great.

  • It is clear whom to ask for guidance.

  • I like there is no review feature. I hope that there is an endorse feature.

Presenting to the school

While I went a step further with the hope that my application would make a practical and positive impact on the future community, I presented my ideas to school assistants and had an interview for about an hour. In the interview, I was able to find the opinion of the school on my application. I heard specific answers about how my application would appeal in terms of business, and what advantages and suggestions it brought.

SAIC Campus life interview

Feedback - Advantages

It meets the more diverse needs of students; they can post quick questions on the discussion page and get other students’ advice. If they need further guidance and more specific feedback, they can arrange an appointment with mentors that appeals to be effective.

One-stop-shop application is something that has always been demanded. It’s great to have a feature to link to school events.

It enables users to effectively filter mentors and mentees. And it’s effective to find people who match their needs.

The rating feature is not crucial, so it’s better not to be in the application.

Patrick Spence

Associate Dean of Student Affairs for Campus Life

Laura Lamb

Director of Campus Life

Kathleen Kivarkis

Assistant Director of Campus Life

Feedback - Suggestion

In order for the application to actually be implemented at school, monitoring is required by the school administrator, so a platform of the desktop version is also required.

If a user can log in via their social media ID rather than school emails, I think it will provide more personal experiences by using user algorithms.

Reflection

Takeaways

This project has focused on user research and identified needs. Generally, if you follow users, a solution inevitably follows. Interviews with students and surveys enabled me to find out diverse perspectives and solutions. 

 

If I had had more time, I could have collected survey responses from more students. And I believe I could create a website version as well as the mobile platform.

 

When I gave the presentation about my application to the school, I felt much proud of hearing that the school official told me he would carry out more things that he could immediately do. I realized what the role of a UX designer is not only to design a good idea but also to develop everyday experiences of the community with the design. 

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leahleeart@gmail.com

Copyright © 2019 Leah Lee | Designer