This project is a 7-day design challenge. I built a mobile experience that encouraging experienced students to connect with new students and help them adjust to campus life. The App allows users to apply for mentors and mentees, discover each other, chat, and schedule meetings.
Androd App, Individual project
UX/UI design, Research synthesis
To began, I conducted the user interview in order to get a better sense of how students regard mentorship.
After my interview with 3 Cornell undergraduate students and 2 Cornell graduate students whom all had the experience of either being a mentor or a mentee. From the interview, I gathered the following 4 insights:
1. Career Mentor: students are aware of the career mentoring program. For those who know about the program, they think the current career mentorship has done a good job.
2. Academic Life Mentor: the current program targets students who already had the plan for their careers. However, students who just enrolled in the college tended to seek help on academic life more than career advice and wanted to explore what they want to pursue in the future.
3. Missing Mentorship Opportunity: students found such mentorship opportunities about academic life be missing. They mostly googled the resources and were not sure about the reliability of those results.
4. Missing Real Connection: students miss the opportunity to build a genuine connection with senior students who they just meet on social media or causal time, and they felt embarrassed to continually ask them questions because they were not familiar with each other.
However, students are missing the opportunity to build mentorships.
From the interview, I found newly enrolled students are eager to seek advice and build connections with experienced students. Whereas, they are missing the opportunity to build such connections. This is problematic because students can fail out-track and might be less successful in academic life.
Studies found that good mentors serve as a thought advisor for students on their academic journey and help empower them to become autonomous learners and discover what they want in the university.
Based on my user research I decided to build a mobile experience that matches students mentees with experienced student mentors in academic life.
The App is designed for achieving the following goals:
Encourage students to seek for building a positive connection with experienced students
Look for students who would love to exert a positive influence on others’ lives.
Pair the mentor and mentee who has common goals in order to facilitate mentorship outcomes.
I map out a user flow to better determine efficient interaction and different information architecture.
*The App allows students to register as both the mentee and mentor, and allow each of the user types to build connections in the community.
Based on the user flow, I use Sketch to put features together and create wireframes for the user interface.
*The mentor and mentee mode are different in pairing results and information presentations but have a very similar UI. In this project, I will introduce a mentee user flow as my showcase.
The onboarding screens allow users to register for a mentor or a mentee
*Users sign in the App with Cornell NetID. They will fill a 3-steps survey to identify what role they want to apply and their personal preference as being a mentor/mentee.
How could the mentee and mentor be suggested the ideal users they’re looking for?
My solution is asking the system to collect users’ data (major, availability of being mentored, interesting area of being mentored, skills want to develop) from the survey they have completed through the onboarding process.
During my interview, students told me that the mentor will be more valuable if they share the common goal and academic background. It comes to the design challenge which can help solve my initial design goal of “Pair the mentor and mentee who has common goals to facilitate mentorship outcomes.”
The survey that the user has previously filled do not serve as “filters”. Instead, it is used to rank and personalize the results for matching. The more similar users’ goals and availabilities are, the better pair the system will offer.
How I improved the onboarding experience during my iteration process.
In the previous version, a card would pop up after users tapping the card container. However, after the test, I found my user was frustrated by how to select the tags within the new pop up card. He also tried to press the “finish” button before completing the task I want him to complete since the contained button has a priority to click in his opinion. Therefore, I made the following modifications:
Use the dialogue window instead of a pop-up card so that users can be more focused and directed on a specific task.
Add a “block“ which users cannot press the “finish” button unless they fill the required containers.
Add more strong visual stimuli (a checkmark) after users fill a single container. This provides users with feedback on the action I want them to complete in the task.
*Iteration Process of Onboarding Flow
The mentor/mentee screens allow users to find each other.
*In the mentor/mentee page, users are able to view mentors/mentees’ profiles and search (or filter) for them. Based on the design challenge I mentioned, only mentors/mentees who are good matches for the user will be shown on the default list.
Is it possible that the intelligent system fail to recommend the ideal users?
Such an intelligent system may have flaws. It’s possible that users don’t regard the recommended mentor as ideal either because they provide lack information on the profile or the system can go wrong. To solve this problem, I add two information cards on the page:
Top information card provides transparency for users on how system generate the recommended mentors;
The bottom information card provides a solution by either serving a prop to urge users to update the profile or encourage them to execute a manual search. Users can take action to update the profile by clicking the text button.
How the mentor and the mentee send the requests for connecting?
I choose to use the contained button for “Chat” but “Apply for Mentorship” as an outlined button because I want to encourage students to talk with potential mentors before applying, in order to avoid:
One mentor receive too many applicants
Encourage the mentee to discuss with the mentor to make sure both of them are on the same page.
Also, allows users to send a personal message before applying can help them earn a better interpretation of why they apply.
*Design Challenge Faced by Mentor/Mentee Page
The connection screens allow users to make contact with each other.
*Users are able to chat with mentors/mentees and schedule the meeting with them. They will also receive notifications as they receive the invitation from other users
How mentees can make real connecting with mentors?
Another take-away from my interview is that students are missing real connections with senior students. During the mentorship, schedule encourages students to conduct regular meeting and message encourages students to make short Q&A. Both of them serve the way for mentees and mentors to make a real connection with each other.
*Iteration process of Connection Screen
Setting Screen allows users to modify preference and switch account types
Like most of the setting page, users are able to edit/view their profile, set the notification preference. Users can turn off “receiving mentees/mentors” in order to avoid unwanted notifications.
One important feature in the setting page is that users are able to apply for being a mentor (or a mentee) and switch to a different mode accordingly.
What if a registered mentee wants to be a mentor?
*The Flow for Switching the Mode of The Account
During the interview, some students share me with both of their experience of being a mentor and mentee. Students who receive help from their mentors may want to use his mentorship to influence someone else’s life. This is an ideal loop to "encourage students to exert a positive influence on others’ lives” for my design goal.
In the wireframe, I separate the App from “Mentor Mode” and “Mentee mode”. The app allows users to easily switch to the other account type after applying for the position (mentor or mentee). If a user is switching from mentee to mentor mode, he will only see the notifications and connections as he is a mentor but not a mentee.
Future Implementation & Goals
If time permits as I am able to conduct more secondary user researches and usability testings, I will potentially include the following topics:
Building a gamification system like rewards and trophic for successful mentors and mentees. It’s worth to try and see if such gamification can encourage more mentors to help more mentees, and if users will perform better during their mentorship.
Develop a desktop version. It’s more easily to promote the new university mentorship program online as users are registering the course, viewing course, or using the learning organization platform on the desktop.
Mentor in the group. None of my interviewees had the experience of mentoring/being mentored in the group. However, I did have experience in tutoring students in two when two of them had similar learning goals and academic problems. It’s worth researching more in this setting which may help students who have different learning styles.