UX/UI DESIGN PROJECT
march 10, 2020

guru

A platform where mentors and mentees can discover each other and begin their journey in building a trusting relationship for personal and professional growth.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

problem statement

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.

context

I used some of my personal experiences working as a student ambassador at Drexel University, where I speak to prospective students and families. From personal experience, I currently work as a student ambassador for Drexel University where I speak to prospective students and their families. One of the concerns I address the most often is about the transition from high school to college and whether or not the adjustment to college life is difficult. It is usually the job of the universities to assist with resources and support during the incoming students first year on campus since it is an entirely new environment to them away from home and their parents. To note: Drexel University is a co-op school therefore every student is on a varying track and co-op is an integral part of Drexel so I included it within my design. 

View My Prototype!

user research

overview of the problem

Prior to finding solutions for the problem, I started off with delving more into the root causes of it. By breaking down the problem, I discovered that we want to make it easier for experienced students to connect with incoming students in order to help them during the big adjustment period of coming to college, but there are more small-scale concerns that is preventing that connection to be established. 

Regardless, mentors play a significant role in many peoples' lives. For instance, young adults who face an opportunity gap but have a mentor at 55% more likely to be enrolled in college and graduate than those who did not and about 22% of college graduates had a college mentor who encouraged their goals and progress throughout their college journey. However, for many people, finding a mentor is one thing but the bigger challenge is finding the right type of mentor for them. Sometimes, mentors do not match up with their mentees' expectations or criteria therefore not providing them with the knowledge or value they seek. The underlying problem revolves around the fact that the match up might not be fitting for either side thus creating a lack for productivity and connections and encourages earlier drop offs from the programs. 

During my research process, I discovered that the root causes can be broken up into micro-problems. Here are a list of questions where I took into consideration the pain points of the mentees and mentors:
• How many college students look for mentors/mentees?
• Why do people not find a mentors in college?
• What are some reasons students become mentors?
• How long does it take for first year students to adjust to college?
• What are some ways experienced students can connect with incoming students (e.g. network events, freshmen seminars)?

Identifying the Problems in the Mentors and Mentees Side

For part of my research process, I conducted user interviews where I spoke to incoming students and current students at my university and discovered ton of problems regarding the conception of mentorships. 

On the Mentors side:
• Many assumed that their advice did not matter or help or are competent in one area but not others.
• Difficult to find time to spare or balance time around their busy schedules from their professional and personal life.
• Eager to mentor and guide others but do not know where to start.
• Find it overwhelming the amount of mentees they might have to take on and wants to balance who to fairly invest the most time.

On the Mentees side:
• Mentors are not compatible and/or personal and professional goals do not align.
• Schedules do not match up with their mentors.
• Problems with getting point across or translation issues to their mentors.Different learning and teaching styles conflict.
• Not easy to find a shared platform to work on where they can express their ideas in multiple forms such as sharing videos, articles, links, etc while also chatting with mentor.

Research conclusions & analysis

Keeping in mind my findings during my research phase, I decided to focus on the fact that you don't benefit from being assigned a mentor and that it is our job to lessen the heavy lifting of asking someone to be our mentor.

In a general sense, I wanted to achieve these goals prior to going into my UI design.
• Help incoming students discover experienced students (mentors) that fit their expectations and journey (including personal/academic/professional goals) hence creating a stronger sense of compatibility between the two.
• Devise ways each party can easily communicate, plan, and execute their goals.
• Create a sense of community of mentors and mentees.
• Onboarding process to reduce user sign off. 

Aims to solve for the Mentor side:
• Ensure accessible platform for interactions between a mentor and mentee - opening up more accessible and convenient options. 
• Ability to set up varied times of availability. 
• Balance many requests from mentees by placing a limit on requests.
• Know ahead of time what the mentee wants to learn about including agenda and track of progress.
• Introduction to group mentorships.
• Provide easy and efficient method of planning for setting and time coordination between a mentor and mentee.

Aim for the Mentee side:
• Create an easy flow during the onboarding process.
• Able to filter mentors attributes and personality traits such as academics, interests, goals, skills, availability, professional experience, and extracurricular activities. (This will ensure a positive match with a satisfactory connection between the two.)
• Easy to narrow if a mentor is a right match for them. 

ideation

BRAINSTORM

Before breaking down the problem, I wanted to explore my initial thoughts on the topic and investigate how the issue is being tackled by other products and/or organizations. It felt important to begin to freely write down thoughts on the what type of content would be needed, features, interactions, questions, etc.

sketches

After a rapid sketch of what my vision was, I took it onto Sketch and created a couple of iterations of the user flow for a mentee. 

wireframes

hi-fidelity mockups

Onboarding Process

explore

Mentor Profile

The mentor profile is divided up into varying sections including (this feature has a scroll feature if hover over on the right screen:

• About Me
- brief description of who they are and what they are interested in
Interests - collection of interests the mentor finds to be most passionate about which allows the mentees to see at a glance the similarities they can touch on with their mentors
Co-op Experiences - past work/internship experiences 
Types of Mentees I'm Looking For - this will let the mentees viewing the profile know exactly what the mentor is searching for so there is no confusion as to what to expect if connected
Mentoring Options - different styles of mentoring the mentor enjoys including in-person, online,  etc
Reviews - this is where students can leave reviews on how helpful the student mentor was to their experience 
Groups I am Involved in - what group the mentor is actively involved in on and off campus

For the mentor's side of view, their options are similar to a mentees where they can edit their profile but also set availability so that once they accept a request from a mentee a message including times of availability on a week basis can be sent to the mentee. In order for the mentor to view their match requests and accepted requests, they will click the explore page where they have the ability to see mentees nearby but also keep track of the amount of requests. The main concern here was the mentors had to many requests so how were they going to keep a healthy balance in their mentorship lifestyle. One of the main limits that can be set is that mentees are only allowed to send max six requests per week therefore the mentor can easily establish boundaries and guidelines without having to decide who to invest more time into. 



Mentee Profile

The mentee profile is divided up into varying sections including (this feature has a scroll feature if hover over on the left screen):

• About Me
- brief description about the mentee and their goals
Interests - these were selected during the onboarding process and can be edited again later on
Major/Minor - displays their current academic standings at the university
Co-op Cycle - displays the co-op cycle they are on
Origin - whether they are an in-state, out-of-state, or international student 
Type of Mentors I'm Looking for - gives the mentors exploring nearby mentees available the opportunity to see what they are expecting out of a mentor
Ways to Connect - mentees style of learning and connecting with others
Groups I am Involved in - groups the mentee is involved in hence increasing the sense of community within the app

Messaging

One of the most important features on this interface is the chat feature as it provides more than one type of interaction available to both the mentor and mentee. Either user can do an in-app audio call or even Google Hangouts if it is part of the agenda schedule. The mentee and mentor can set up official meeting appointments via chat as well for the next time they meet in advance and can add it to their Google Calendar as well if need be. The notification for a new meet up appears on the chat with the location, address, date, and time via Google Maps integration. For the chat, I wanted to keep it simple and light due to the fact that the focus is giving space for the mentor and mentee to connect, interactive, and be productive. Speaking of productivity, in the future, there could also be integration with Google Keep which could allow either user to take notes while still chatting live with one another since there are a lot of students that are active note takers rather than only listening.The chat provides ability to have group conversations as well depending because the mentee and/or mentor must be a part of that group in the first place to be a part of that group chat. This would be a fantastic way for the university to have welcome chats and have mentors from diverse disciplines come together and help with the onboarding process for new incoming students to get to know one another as well. 

wrap up

Even though there are improvements that can be found to assist the mentor and mentee connection as well as strengthening the community on-campus, there are always needed improvements for any design no matter how efficient one might be therefore I provided a list of improvements that can be done for my design. 

• In terms of the schedule and agenda, perhaps the mentor and mentee can set up scheduled times a week to meet up that is reoccurring 
• Group mentor and mentee video group calls
• Integration of more existing Google applications such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, etc. while still speaking live to one another (group collaboration is important especially for community based groups on here)
• Making available a section lists of short-term and long-term goals of the mentee and mentor so both can see on each others' profiles because it's important that the mentee learns and receives advising but the mentee should also be aware and considerate of the current goals that their mentor is trying to obtain
• Down the line perhaps having an event every week where a community based group a selected topic for the week and any mentees can chime in to see what the mentor has to say in the video and they can respond by typing on the group chat available with questions or concerns they want to address 
• Hosting events based on mentorship topics where mentees and mentors can work on that topic that week as part of their agenda (just something productive and engaging)

That is all for now! Please introduce any feedback whatsoever, I am very eager to learn more of how I can improve as a student!