STu_Hero.jpg
 
 

Academic Thesis: Footsteps [Mobile App Concept]

Context —

Academic thesis project

Footsteps was my semester long thesis project for the Bachelor of Interaction Design program. Within 6 months, I researched, interviewed, prototyped, tested and designed a digital product concept meant to assist students with gaining valuable workplace knowledge and experience. 

This project was an extraordinary growing experience for me because I learned to translate research insights into design solutions, prioritize user needs, collaborate with new networks of people and turn a concept into a full end-to-end product experience.

PROJECT DELIVERABLES

UX Research and interviews

Co-creation brainstorming sessions

Documentation of test findings, validations

Low-fi to High-fi mock ups

Product thinking documentation

Product promo video

Skills Involved

Sketch, InVision, Principle, AfterEffects, Illustrator, Photoshop

Research, workshop creation, facilitation and interviewing

Outreach to youth communities and education organizations

Time management

Presentation communication

 

Focus Area —

Preparation transitioning from inside the classroom to the outside real world

 

From your high school english teacher telling you that you're more than a 9 to 5 office job, to the engineer you met at a hackathon offering you your first internship, or that time you volunteered for a non-profit education organization that led you to your first freelance gig.     

Whether it was a teacher sharing a personal story, meeting an industry professional working at your dream company or learning about an organization that does work you’re interested in — behind all of these memorable life events are the mentors, role models and meaningful causes that have influenced how we’ve made some important life decisions. 

Opportunities to learn new skills, meet interesting people and conquer exciting challenges are all around us — Footsteps makes it easier to discover and keep track of along the way.

 

Problem —

Solving for a purpose -driven design solution


How might we provide students with opportunities to gain valuable workplace knowledge and experience?  

WHY? 

As the world evolves and changes, so do the jobs around us. Because the skills required for these jobs are constantly shifting, it’s challenging to prepare for them. Students are especially prone to feeling underprepared when looking for jobs and could benefit from opportunities beyond the classroom.

5.jpg

WHO?

While interviewing students, job-seekers, teachers and industry professionals, I've learned that face-to-face conversations were of the most value to a positive experience when exploring various career paths.

Direct exposure and engagement in skill-related opportunities is an important part of the job seeking process. These key insights helped me determine what the essential features of the application should be.

WHAT?

From these insights, I wanted to conceptualize an event discovery tool for students looking for opportunities to build experience and foster meaningful connections. Students can search for events based off their interests, location and friends attending.

 

SOLUTION —

Event discovery tool

A mobile tool that allows students to discover events around them where they can gain valuable workplace knowledge and experience. 

  Login flow:  Searching event by location brings a user directly into the app to browse through what they're interested in and view events, but they’ll be prompted to create an account when they wish to access specific event details.

Login flow: Searching event by location brings a user directly into the app to browse through what they're interested in and view events, but they’ll be prompted to create an account when they wish to access specific event details.

  On-boarding:  Users are able to select which events appeal to them. If event terms need to be clarified, users are able to select an option to better define the benefits of each event.

On-boarding: Users are able to select which events appeal to them. If event terms need to be clarified, users are able to select an option to better define the benefits of each event.

  Main feed:  Based on the on-boarding selection of a users selected event interests, a customized feed is curated with suggested events nearby organized by date.

Main feed: Based on the on-boarding selection of a users selected event interests, a customized feed is curated with suggested events nearby organized by date.

 

Process —

(High Level Overview)

Using a product design framework by “Solving Product Design Exercise”

 
 

Research —

Secondary, primary and prototype testing summary

STu_IMG1.jpg

Secondary

"Kids in high school are getting pushed earlier and earlier to make major decisions about their careers that they're probably not prepared to make." 

Studies from the Ontario School Guidance Association has shown that students are incredibly anxious about the gravity of making career decisions and how this will affect their lives.

From early exploration on a project presented to the Innovation Hub and Policy Horizons of Canada on youth and education to qualifying as a top ten finalist for the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development Student Pathways Challenge, I was motivated to continue solving towards helping students gain a better understanding of available career opportunities and pathways to get there for my senior year thesis. 


Primary & Prototype Testing

User testing and co-creation session was conducted to better understand core users: students transitioning from high school to university, college, trades, workforce, etc.

Based off the testing session, I came to the realization that gaining workplace knowledge and experience is a continuous learning process and that the proposed solution could benefit beyond students of early age.

As a secondary audience focus and basing off feedback received during testing on the value of in-person interactions, I began to pivot towards an events offering perspective of a design solution. I reached out to various Slack communities and put out a survey to additional students, education staff and industry professionals on networking events.

Screen Shot 2018-11-12 at 4.02.08 AM.png

Journey Mapping + Persona creation

Mapping out pain points and goals expressed during the testing session helped gather context in understanding students needs. Based off feedback given, I was able to craft a main persona to reference throughout my design process to align with suitable design decisions made.

* Graph levels = Based on level of emotion, not real math

 

Insights —

Based off user testing and co-creation session with students

While interviewing students, job-seekers, teachers and industry professionals, I learned that face-to-face conversations were of the most value to a positive experience when exploring various career paths.

I also learned that direct exposure and engagement in skill-related opportunities is an important part of the job seeking process. These key insights helped me determine what the essential features of the application should be.

opportunity Area

Popular platforms such as Meetup, Eventbrite and Slack communities that have regular event postings are mainly targeted towards young adults to seasoned professionals, though high school students are not restricted from attending the events, they are generally not on these "adult-oriented" platforms and as welcomed. 

Disconnect in discovery of event happenings:

  1. User must already be active on the existing platforms

  2. Facebook's suggestion algorithm curates events related to your recent related search activity but this in turn requires having a registered account. 

 

general pain points

  1. Limitation of known event posting platforms welcoming to high school students

  2. Language of websites particular to mature crowds and existing industry professionals 

  3. Students may navigate through multiple platforms at a time in order to find events

 

Design Iterations —

A/B testing different app on-boarding flows

On-Boarding User flow

Variations of initial on-boarding flow were A/B tested with students to understand usage and validating purpose around searching for events as a student.

Flow 1: Focusing on the convenience of local events nearby, considering students may have limited access to a car

 

Flow 2: Focus on understanding the interpretation of an event-type, engaging students from the start of their experience; clearly communicating to a student what value and opportunity an event would provide them with

 

Flow 3: Providing students with a focused search option; narrowing down what’s important to a student, what they enjoy doing and what they would like to gain from an event

 

Flow 4: Variation of flow 2 display, considering interaction and icon placement of a question mark icon for a student to select to interpret if necessary vs. showing all interpretations of an event-type

 

Med-Fi Flow

Hi-Fi Flow

 

Home Feed Iteration

 

Final (in action)

 

Feature Exploration

Additional features were thought of throughout the thesis study and process, extending beyond initial event search, considering the app usage in different environment contexts

in-context scenario

 

Business Value —

Early stages of considering a business model and evaluating success

Understanding Stakeholders' Values and Needs

Utilizing Google Venture's Design Sprint process and product design frameworks, I was able to ideate through various ideas and came up with potential product goals to design within and consider the future growth of new feature implementation.

Considering questions like:

Where can these opportunities be found?

What are their expectations when attending these engagements?

What do they value most? 

What motivates and enables them to actively look for these opportunities?

How might one get to the point of direct exposure to skill-related opportunities?

Identifying user problems and considering business metrics

establishing Product Goals

  1. Encouraging students to become more engaged within the community 

  2. Communicating the value in attendance and calling out specific skills you may gain from an event *

  3. De-mystifying the fear of "networking" and approaching it confidently as an "experience building opportunity" *

  4. Providing guidance in how to approach new people at an event

  5. Foster a community willing to continue the conversation after the event and develop meaningful relationships

* - Prioritizing the features that ultimately could be accomplished within my thesis timeline based on the feedback received

 

Presentation —

Pitching concept at grad show in front of industry

 Summary lives on ixdshowcase.com/stu.html

Summary lives on ixdshowcase.com/stu.html

 

Takeaways —

Lessons learned and thoughts going forward

Time Management

 

Design System + style guide

 

Accessibility

Final-Flows.jpg
 

Steps forward

Website.jpg
 

Project Area

Product Design / Mobile App Concept

Project

Academic Thesis [Focus: Youth, Education & Career Development]

Role

Independent Thesis — UX Strategy, Research + UI