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Google Design Challenge

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"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."


January 2020, 1 week


Illustrator, Adobe Xd, Google Slides


UX Researcher, UI/UX Designer

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Surveying, Persona Designing, Affinity Mapping, Low-Fidelity Prototyping, High-Fidelity Prototyping, User Testing, Branding, Designing for Accessibility, Time Management

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1. Receive challenge statement.
2. Create hypothetical product to answer challenge statement.
3. Conduct user surveys.
4. Develop personas and context scenarios.
5. Create low-fidelity and medium-fidelity prototypes.
6. Test medium-fidelity prototypes.
7. Create high-fidelity prototypes based off feedback.
8. Present final prototype.
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Initial Research

In order to understand this problem space, I sent out a survey to students at various universities. Firstly, I wanted to know if university students would even want such a mentor-mentee matching product. If so, what would their specific needs and expectations be for it?

Based on my 9 responses, students felt that being mentored by a senior student would have positively impacted their social and academic transition from high school. From their responses, I was able to identify 4 distinct problems:

1. Students were unsure what the exact benefits of having a mentor were.
2. Students were unsure how to find a mentor.
3. Of those who were aware of existing mentorship services, students felt there was a lack of incentive to use those resources.
4. Students were wary of building relationships with others based solely on giving or receiving advice.
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Once I understood the needs of my potential users, I began planning a low-fidelity prototype to test. From my research, I realized this platform needed to be designed for two stakeholders: mentors and mentees. To address the concerns brought out by the initial survey, I made the app include chat, scheduling, matching, and profile customization. 

Because some of those surveyed wished to establish friendlier relationships beyond that of a mentor-mentee, I designed the matching, chat, and profile customization features to help mentors and mentees match based on similar hobbies, interests, majors, and career goals.

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Personas & Context Scenarios

Based on the insights gained from my initial survey, I drafted a persona and context scenario to create an overarching reference for user needs and goals.

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User persona and context scenario.
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user testing

To analyze the efficacy of my prototype design, I asked 3 users (2 university students and 1 HCI professor) to test my product.

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1. You have recently downloaded the Coffee Chat app and have just launched it on your phone. Please register and create an account for the app so that you can start connecting with other students at your university as mentors/mentees.
2. You are interested in becoming a mentor. Please navigate to where you would apply for the position.
3. Please select a student you would like to be mentored by and begin a chat with them.
4. You are free at 3:00 pm on February 18 and would like to schedule a coffee chat with mentor Shirley. Please show me how you would complete this action.
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user testing findings

1. The chat feature was difficult to find. 
2. Users were unclear which dates mentors were available. 
3. Users felt uncomfortable with disclosing their ability statuses.

The prototype was fairly colorless and flat. So, some important iconography and information were difficult to find, since they blended in with the rest of the app’s interface. 

There was also concern regarding an invasive onboarding question. My preconceptions of accessibility needs led me to include a question during the onboarding process which asked potential users to disclose their disability status. I added this on the presumption that students might want to connect with students who shared their same ability status, thinking that this might aid their adjustment to campus life. However, this section was looked upon disfavorably (2 testers felt ambivalent and 1 was very uncomfortable with its inclusion); so I ultimately decided not to include this question in the high-fidelity prototype. 

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product description

The mobile application, Coffee Chat, allows students to match up as mentors and mentees in order to foster friendly relationships around the giving and receiving of academic, professional, and social advice.

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All the colors used in the palette were carefully selected to ensure they would pass the WebAIM contrast check for their specific purposes and use cases.

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I definitely had room for improvement regarding my survey design. There ws one question intended only for people who had neither mentor nor mentee experience to answer. However, everyone answered that question when 3 out of 9 participants should not have. In the future, I might consider bolding certain text in order to make survey requirements more immediately visible.

Overall, this design challenge taught me how to gather informative feedback to iterate on, and how to continuously solve problems that pop up during testing phases.

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next steps

If I were to continue this project, I would test my high-fidelity prototype with a larger, more diverse set of users in order to ensure audience inclusivity.

During the initial planning phase, I also didn’t account for the potentially different needs of the international and exchange student population. So if I were to continue this project, I would want to interview them and integrate their needs into the next iteration of the Coffee Chat prototype.