uConnect

Reimagining a First Year's Educational Experience

uConnect brings first year students together in an online world where they can share their interests and connect at a level of professionalism.

This design sprint was done in 4 days with the collaboration and guidance of BrainStation and EY.

Role: UX Researcher/Designer

My teammates:

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The Problem Space 

COVID-19-related campus closure has impacted nearly every aspect of the student experience. Being fully online means that the usual student onboarding ceremonies, events, communities, and clubs will need to adapt to an online model or be suspended indefinitely.

Impacted the most are first-year students, who are at risk of not feeling immersed in the campus experience or a part of a larger student community, resulting in loneliness, depression, and other mental health issues.

The Request

"How might we help first year students feel welcomed and part of a community in a 100% online education experience?

We Were Limited To...

1. The solution had to be designed using Avenir as the primary typeface. However, other typfaces were acceptable for secondary use.

2. The design solution must reflect the primary brand colours:

3. The solution needs to be accessible to the widest audience; thus must be WCAG AA Compliant.

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Understanding Our Users

In order to find out whether post secondary institutions were digitally prepared today, my team and I decided to divide the tasks to gather the information. 

During our research, we also found statistics on some pain points that students faced while enrolled in a post secondary institution.

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Getting Personal With Our Users

In order to better understand what international students felt at an online post secondary institution, we conducted four interviews with them.

Pain Points

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Behaviour

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Motivation

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Design Challenge

After the user interviews and understanding what international students felt about online school, my team and I came up with multiple how might we’s and voted on one that we thought would be the most beneficial for international students.

"How might we help students connect over shared interests so that they can create stronger personal relationships that will benefit them in their professional development?"

Introducing Kevin Young

Once the design challenge was decided, we went and made a persona that would closely represent our target group.

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Collecting Ideas Through Sketches

My team and I decided to start ideating through quick 8 minute sketches to collect our ideas and pick which ones we were most keen on.

After the vote, we combined the ideas we favoured and created a final sketch that we will be working with throughout the process. To structure our sketches, we also came up with a simple user task flow.

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Kevin's Adventure 

In order to create a user story from the perspective of our persona, Kevin Young, we constructed a storyboard to visually portray the user task flow. Doing so made sure that the whole team was on the same page and helped convey how the story will flow in the perspective of Kevin.

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Digitizing Our Ideas

Once everyone was onboard with how the app was going to portray Kevin’s story, we decided that my other teammate and I start designing the mid-fidelity wireframes. During this process, we took inspiration from various apps and platforms to construct a wireframe that we thought would benefit Kevin’s situation.

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Our Final Solution

With the restriction of time, my team weren’t able to user test the wireframes, so we decided to transform them into high-fidelity models and finalize the prototype to prepare for the final presentation to EY.

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uConnect Demo

See how the design works through the video below.

What I Learned From This Sprint

Working with three other designers and coming up with a digital solution to a problem was an awakening experience. I learned a lot from my teammates, and we all supported each other throughout the whole process.

For this design sprint, we were given four days to complete and present it. With that time restraint, my team agreed to meet up early in the day and plan out what needs to be done. Doing so helped us stay on track and not stress out about over working ourselves. This was the only group project where I felt confident that we can finish it on time without cramming everything last minute. Thanks to my wonderful teammates, I was able to learn the importance of starting early and planning out the day. 

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