An app to connect and stay connected with students in the GT HCI community
Individual Design Exercise, 6 days
Pen & Paper, Sketch & Invision
Prospective students, current students and alumni of the Georgia Tech MS-HCI program
Selected Problem Prompt
Mentoring can be a great way to share knowledge and help someone be successful in their personal or professional life. But many potential mentors are often too busy to commit to regular meetings, or they have a hard time connecting with people seeking help. Design an experience where prospective mentors and mentees can be matched, based on similar interests, location, and availability.
Understanding the problem space
I started out by reading about mentorship programmes and tried finding existing products that have a
component. What I studied included Shapr and Facebook groups mentorship feature.
A common review about both these products were that people were not active on them.
Just connecting people and making sure they keep in touch are very different things.
Scoping out the problem
Initially I interviewed 4 people who were involved in the MentorJacket, GT LEAD program
MS-HCI mentorship programme.
Mentorship is a very broad concept and the answer to what mentorship means to everyone varies a lot. Considering the time frame and access to target users, I decided to narrow down the scope to analyse the existing MS-HCI mentorship program and try to improve it
Interview & Affinity Mapping
I conducted 5 more interviews with current MS-HCI students and alumni to understand their
experience with the MS-HCI mentorship program which was renamed to Buddy program this year.
I coded the responses and analyzed it using affinity mapping.
Low participation in the mentorship program. Especially mentor side.
Most were unhappy with the mentor matches which were decided by a committee of 5 student representatives
Mentors & Mentees rarely met after the initiation party
Assigned mentor isn’t always right person to get help from on all topics.
Most were unaware of what their peers were doing in the program. Didn’t know whom to approach for help.
Common rhetoric: "I didn’t gain anything so I don’t feel like giving back."
Re-phrasing the problem statement
Create a sense of community in the GT MS-HCI student network and help 'connect' and 'stay connected' with like minded people in the network. Refine the mentorship program from a restricted model to a more ad-hoc mentee-driven exprerience.
Before I started ideation, I created these 3 personas to ensure I'm designing for specific users in mind.
Based on my understanding of the data and the user personas, I finalized a set of design goals that my solution should try to achieve
Increase particiption in the mentorship program
Get everyone in the program to sign-up to the mentorship program directly or indirectly.
Better buddy recommendations
Suggest better buddy (mentor-mentee) matches based on their preferences, personalities and hobbies.
Help mentors & mentees stay in touch
Increase interactions between mentors and mentees and motivate them to spend time together.
Need driven mentorship
Expand the concept of mentorship in order to facilitate finding and reaching out to people with experience in specific fields on need basis.
I have narrowed down the scope to the current MS-HCI mentorship experience and hence the target user group, pain points and consequent solution are skewed as per the research conducted at GT.
I have imagined having the resource of a tech giant like Google and have assumed the possible integrations with Slack, LinkedIn, Dribble, Medium, Canvas etc. in addition to advanced features involving Machine Learning and voice assistant.
SuperBud is a mobile application which serves as a platform for students of the Georgia Tech MS-HCI community to stay updated with activities in the community and makes it easier to find the right people to approach for help.
I’ll be going about showing my designs as stories of the personas I created above.
Story 1: Shreya, a prospective student finds a way to connect with current students
Story 2: Rahul, a 1st year student finds an ideal buddy to request mentorship
Story 3: A fun way for mentors & mentees keep in touch in spite of busy schedules
Story 4: A different way to find people you who can help you out
Get students on the platform early on
Shreya, a prospective student gets an acceptance email from Georgia Tech's MS-HCI program. She notices one
additional thing in the email.
There is an invitation link to join a mobile app named SuperBud, which is a completely student run
platform and says that it's great way to connect with students in the program.
Eager to know more, Shreya decides to check out what it is.
To view the wireframe, click here
Need driven Mentorship
Mentorship does not necessarily have to be a formal year long commitment. Users need changes with time and should have the freedom to change mentors accordingly.
Rahul is a 1st year student looking to improve his Visual Design skills. He is clueless how to go about it and think of finding someone from the HCI community who can help him out and potentially mentor him.
To view the wireframe, click here
Motivate mentor & mentee to interact more often
A. Event suggestions for mentors & mentees
Ben and his mentee Rahul have not been in touch for a while now. They had planned on syncing up once in 3 weeks. But it has been more than a month that they couldn't find the time to meetup due to their busy schedule.
B. Highlight mentor/mentee participation in personal Feed
Rahul is being mentored by Ben and their focus is to improve Rahul's visual design skills.
Fun way to find people that you can ask help from
I was thinking of making the process to search for someone who can help out with specific topics a little more casual and conversational. The Google assistant came to mind again. Below is how I envision it working.
I created two prototypes to test out the two different user persona experiences. Namely the prospective student onboarding experience and mentorship request experience
The prospective student onboarding experience can be found: here
Due to time constraint, I could not conduct comprehensive usability testing for SuperBud. However I let two of the interview participants try out the prototypes and they reacted very positively with the overall concept.
The feed is interesting and would love to keep up with important deadlines and fun work by everyone else in one place! But should not feel like information overload
The mentorship assistant is very promising. I’d like to see more fleshed out version of this.
Both participants raised Privacy concerns
One UI tweak
Users didn’t understand what just “XX%” number mean on the recommendation card. Upon conveying the meaning, one user said I’d like to see that number while the other said the number doesn’t matter at all and she expected results to be in decreasing order of match by default. I added label instead of removing the number, but more testing required
Grow beyond campus
This application could expand into multiple communities residing in the same app like how Slack handles multiple workplaces. Alumni starting out their careers could then be active on their company workplace while also checking the HCI program workplace from time to time.
Privacy concerns & user control over data
I would handle privacy and user control over their data in a better way as my next steps. Which would increase the trust in the system.
Limited features explained
Due to time limitation I could not explain all the features and sub features of the application and have assumed usual functioning of features like Advanced Filters, creating and updating profiles and preferences. All these sub components of the app have scope to expand.
Key Performance Indicators
Do people come back to this app on a regular basis to check out their feed even after being connected to mentors they wished for. Just like everyone checks their instagram at least once a day. (if not more!)
Does this application undergo the Network effect phenomenon. The value will certainly add with more users using this system because at the core of it all, it’s just a way to connect and stay connected with people.
Feeling of Giving back
Using such an application, I believe that a sense of community could be created within the program and would be beneficial for everyone. Everyone needs help at some point and having a feeling that my community helped me out will certainly increase motivation for students who have used this system while in college to be active even after they graduate to help out their juniors. Inducing the feeling of giving back to my program could be the biggest value addition. It has to start somewhere!
I took the approach of “solve local problem with a global outlook” which helped me channel my efforts to come up with a solution relevant to my program but also has the potential to grow into something much larger. I acknowledge that this solution has a multiple ways to grow, but I thoroughly enjoyed thinking about this problem and I am proud of my solution. Maybe one day we’ll have something similar for our MS-HCI community.