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SAIC Mentor Connect

An engaging application that helps School of the art institute of Chicago students make a mentor-mentee relationship through personalized search.
My Role 
Product Designer
Timeline
7 Days 
Tools Used
Figma, Adobe Illustrator
Principle

Overview

Prompt

School of the Art Institute of Chicago(SAIC) 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

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How Might We Questions

01
How might we make the experienced students and the new students go beyond sharing their experiences and form a sustainable mentor-mentee relationship?
02
How might we help the students discover each other based on their needs?
03
How might we make a platform a foundation for strengthening the school community?

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.

Research Methods

  • Online survey (Google form)
  • In-person interview 
  • Research online

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.
 
It's Impossible to identify the students’ needs. Moreover, since there is no way to search other students through filters, it is difficult to establish a meaningful connection.
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Research 1 - Existing Systems

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  • Social media (Instagram/Facebook)
  • Student-driven events
  • SAIC Engage
  • Organization fair, Group Fair
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User Interview

Research 2 -  Student Surveys & Interviews

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

Do you currently have a mentor at SAIC?

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

5.4

out of 10 average

13.3%

have a mentor at SAIC

  • Campus events
  • Social media
  • Residence Life
  • Class
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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

8.5

out of 10 average

8.8%

still in contact

 
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Affinity Diagram

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Research Findings / Pain Points

01
It’s challenging to keep track of information about mentorship opportunities and events. 
Information is scattered across various platforms. 
02
Most students looked for mentorship in their freshmen year, but it was challenging to keep in contact. It is difficult to find an available time for both mentor and mentee.
03
Lack of platforms that allows students to have group-mentorship opportunities

Problem Statement

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There is no platform that supports students to find mentors within the school. Moreover, it is difficult for students to establish a sustainable relationship

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Prototype

Wireframe

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Design Decision

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.
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Design Concept

Visual Identity

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01

One organized platform

Platform with a program for community building and mentor-mentee information. Students can check school events or mentoring opportunities all at once.  A synchronized Google Calendar to check.
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Design Solution

High-fidelity design

Home

02

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
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Edit Profile

Find Mentors

Design Solution

03

Effective mentoring

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

Add a messenger function within the application for the durability of mentor and mentee relationships and personal connection building.
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Message

Profile

04

Make it school friendly to increase the frequency of the app usage

Included school-friendly features. Students can see other friends joining events. This feature also helps build an inclusive community.
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Log In

Events

Impact

Community building to create an inclusive environment Adds to the existing student peer support system

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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.
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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.
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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.