Design Prompt

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.

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MentU

A social matching app (akin to Bumble) that creates connections between new students & mentors based on interests, personality and availability with light Gamification

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Mentoring relationships are a natural and supported opportunity for both the mentor and mentee to enhance their social-emotional learning.

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Research

Before starting I promptly performed a bit of research online.

I wanted to develop a clear & concise picture of the role a mentor plays in an academic environment 

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Website researched from

Student mentorship programs help foster and build a students sense of belonging & connectedness to school. Mentoring contributes to a more

 

               Welcoming Caring RespectfulSafe 

 

A learning environment for all participants involved. Mentoring is the involvement of a caring individual who provides friendship, support and positive role modelling over time.

Benefits

According to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alberta, children and youth who are matched with mentors show the following improvements:

School Attendance

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+64% increase

Academic performance

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+58% increase

Without a mentor

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+60% increase

Good Standing w/ peers

With a mentor

Statistics from BB BS Alberta

Implementation

For a mentoring relationship to be effective it must embody these ideals:

  • Be planned and intentional 

  • Have clear goals and measurables

  • Occur Regularly

  • Have third party support and monitoring

Defining the problem

So why aren't more students connecting?

 

I conducted a few interviews around campus to Identify the reservations and hurdles that hold students back. Both potential Mentors and Mentees.

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Rough research notes

Mentee

New students with little or no investment in campus culture are more likely to avoid making connections due to social and communicative deficits imposed by being in a new environment. 

 

Though there are more outgoing individuals who can overcome these hurdles, more reserved students lack the exposure, insight, a sense of belonging and have an aversion to awkward or negative encounters with peers. These factors positioned their needs as my primary concern when brainstorming.

Mentor

What I discovered was, typically students who adopt leadership roles on average, face less social and communicative hurdles. Their challenges stem primarily from pain points in how things currently operate

These were identified as;

  • Little to no flexibility in scheduling and organization

  • Lack of proper communication channels between mentor & mentee

  • Lack of exposure for new students

  • Lack of structured third party support from staff

Proposing solutions

With my findings in mind, and a bit of competitor research accomplished,

I took note of things I liked and didn't from how other apps matched their users. I then developed my mission statement.

Get more students connected to mentors!

 

  1. Help new students find the most suitable match. 

  2. Inform users on the benefits of having a mentor. 

  3. Encourage pro-social & self-management activities.  ​

  4. Provide scheduling, communication and organizing tools for mentors.

  5. Provide more exposure to potential mentees.

Paper & digital wireframes

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Rough concept sketches

With the solutions broken down, it was pretty clear what tools, information and systems were needed. I mapped out my initial user journey focusing on some of the key features then fleshed it out as I iterated. 

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1st & 2nd pass user journey

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Near feature complete user journey

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Low-Fidelity Wireframe

After finalizing a paper wireframe to address the users needs

I moved onto producing my Low-fidelity. Once the secondary features were set and I further developed the user journey, then the High-Fidelity mock ups.

Developing the solutions

Solution #1

Help new students find the most suitable match.

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Solution #1 High-Fi

I broke down the sign up process into smaller portions to ease user fatigue and information overload. Focusing on key aspects of their personality individually (interests, stress levels, personality trait) contributes to a smoother transition process the user. 

The survey results are then used to pair students based on their common interests, personality results and availability. It doesn't exclude anyone from showing up, simply prioritizes those who would make a stronger match.

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After completing the wizard, the user gets a view with an artificial loading indicator. In cases like this it’s important to increase the perceived value of the product. If the user spends ~5 minutes answering questions, but the results appear instantly, they might feel as if the product is not really doing anything and all his work was for nothing. Showing a nice loading animation for just a few seconds will prevent this.

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Solution #2

Inform users on the benefits of having a mentor.

It was crucial to provide a value proposition for potential users early on. The landing page promotes the personal growth the user can achieve as a means to get them enticed.

I made it my main goal to address the deficits discovered during my research phase.

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Though the potential Mentor has a blurb about themselves and the user can see a compatibility rating to help them familiarize themselves with the student, I wanted to capitalize on the "word of mouth" aspect of socializing.

I pushed to have the strength of their connections do the heavy lifting to emphasis a sense of community.

The endorsements are pretty straight forward, they're positive reviews/comments. The mentee performance tab however, highlights the positive impact the connection has made on their current circle of mentees.

It shows weekly statistical improvements

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Solution #2 High-Fi

Solution #3

Encourage pro-social & self-management activities.

I introduced the merit point system with intentions of gamifying the experience and increasing user engagement. It rewards users with in-app currency for interacting with other users, performing set tasks and partaking in social events among other things.

They can spend this currency on cosmetic options ranging from banners to emotes. Users are encouraged to submit their own designs, driving up investment in the app and the community around it. 

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Solution #3 High-Fi

Solution #1+

Help new students find the most suitable match. 

The sign up process for a mentor is very similar. Users are presented with how their time as a mentor can contribute to their community and thanks them at the end of the surveying process. 

This reinforces that sense of fulfillment many feel when giving back

The entire process is integrated with the schools registar & records to verify each students credentials & identity.

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Solution #1+ High-Fi

Solution #4

Provide scheduling, communication and organizing tools for mentors.

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Solution #4 High-Fi

In chat both users interests are displayed at the top of the screen to establish some commonality between both parties. Users can opt into using an automated "ice breaker" to kick off conversation as well as prompts generated from their shared interests as conversation topics. 

When users connect they can check their current availability with each other. The app highlights openings and allows you to set a time, place, make reservations and set reminders.

Solution #5

Provide more exposure to potential mentees.

The notification and suggestion tabs are also pretty straight forward but works as an entry point for the user.

Users are notified every time a new mentor/mentee registers that would be a strong match for them. It also promotes events held or attended by anyone they're connected with, as well any clubs or other communities they might like.

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Solution #5 High-Fi

Style Guide

Styles & Guidelines -

Display Mockups

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MentU

Inspired and guided heavily by the Material Design philosophy. The project is also google themed to fit the intuitiveness and beauty of Material 2.0

  • Puts the U in U-ser

  • U shaped for U-niversity. 

  • Smiling face - warm and welcoming. Like a mentor

  • Illustrates two figures shaking hands, connectingmentor & mentee

THANK YOU

To all those who participated and shared their story.

And thank you for viewing my submission 

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The Team

Stevie Ray HUNTER

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