Mobile application to connect Georgia Tech student mentors with one another.
The 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.
7 day sprint | Jan. 2020
Mentors@GT, a mobile application that empowers users by allowing for a personalized mentorship experience through enabling users to quickly find mentors that best match their profile and connect efficiently.
PROBLEM STATEMENT REFINED
How might we design a more inviting experience to help students connect with one another?
Fast and efficient onboarding process that enables users to customize their profile to find better mentor matches.
Exploration of existing campus organizations and current members to allow users to connect with organizations they are interested in prior to joining.
Find mentors based on specific filters to allow for a more personalized experience.
Why do students join mentorship programs?
Although I have been enrolled in two universities throughout my undergraduate and graduate careers, I've never participated in a mentorship program, so I knew I needed to become well acquainted with the subject before moving forward. To begin, there were several questions I needed to understand about the problem:
What are some of the reasons students seek out to be mentors or mentees?
How long do mentor relationships typically last?
Do students maintain contact after mentorship program has ended?
What qualifications are needed to become a mentor? Can any student become a mentor?
Are there resources available to assist student mentors?
What are some challenges that students face in mentor programs?
Timely/commitment challenges? What about incompatibility?
While I was able to find answers to some of these questions through online research, most of them needed to be explored further during user interviews in order to receive the most relevant and applicable responses.
What mentorship programs are currently being offered at GT?
Following the initial discoverability research and key questions, I sought out to research current mentorship programs at Georgia Tech to better understand the existing landscape. Since Georgia Tech has quite a few mentorship programs for students, I decided to focus on three that seemed to be the most recognized among students.
Takeaways from the above organizations:
Lengthy and complex application process
Lack of personalization in matching
Very little flexibility with time commitments and meetings
Large group mentorships
Deterring introverts from opening up and asking questions in large settings
So, what's the real problem with the existing programs?
To better understand user behavior, needs, and frustrations with mentorship programs, I conducted interviews with 7 GT students.
previously involved in mentorship programs
Learn about why user's participate or choose not to participate in mentorship programs
Learn about user's experience with mentorship applications
Learn about the effectiveness of the mentorship matchings
Understand how user's utilize technology to meet other students on campus
Students do not want to be paired up randomly with a mentor who has nothing in common with them. They are looking to gain knowledge directly from someone in the same program/club/etc. as them.
Fast & Efficient
Students are looking for fast and efficient matching experience and do not want to spend a lot of time on the application process to become a mentor or mentee.
Students need flexibility because of their constantly changing busy schedules.
From the insights and research analyzed, I decided to focus on a few key issues to address. The problems Mentors@GT seeks to solve include:
Efficient and simple sign-up process with matching that is based on user's profile
Giving user agency in choosing their mentor
Allow mentees to find mentors in specific programs and organizations
Flexibility built into program to allow for better matching
Hannah, the Freshman
Learn more about different colleges and majors offered before choosing a major
Adjusting to being away from home & campus life
Become more involved in campus organizations
Not meeting specific application requirements, like experience, GPA, major, etc.
Managing time along with all other activity involvements
Mateo, the International Transfer Student
Adjusting to living in a different country and learning about the American culture
Job hunting & preparing for career in US
Explore courses to take to build
Fluent in English, but prefers to connect with students who speak the same native language
Lengthy applications and interview processes
Random matchings that don't benefit him
What are the core features of Mentors@GT?
Faceted filter to find most relevant matches
preference display on profiles
Mentor discovery through organizations & clubs
Calendar display to keep track of meetings
After laying out the flow and features, I sketched the different pages of the app and began incorporating some interaction ideas to ensure that the experience is seamless and easy to consume. My goal was to keep text and content minimal on each screen so that the user would not have to spend too much time or effort to get around the app. It’s also memorable in the sense that it doesn’t require the user to relearn where they need to navigate to each time they are using it.
After creating the low-fidelity prototype, I conducted usability testing with four college students using the think aloud method. Some of the students were interviewed earlier for the user interviews as well.
Option to remove mentor
Sometimes only need to request a mentor to speak about a specific, potentially one-time thing so there should be a way to remove a mentor when needed
Several users were confused by the meaning of the term “classification” while setting up their profile. They prefer a more general term, like year
All users were excited about the faceted filter option. They felt that with this feature, they wouldn’t have to waste time scrolling through hundreds of available mentors
Adding courses taken to mentor profiles
Also allowing users to filter based on classes mentors have taken
Option to return to previous step in onboarding process to make changes before completing profile
Option to skip a step in onboarding process
Taking the user feedback into account, I made a few changes to the original designs.
The additional step added. Users can choose to add as many or as few courses as they wish.
The courses listed will then be displayed on each user's profile for others to see.
Action button that allows for speed & efficiency instead of typing out all responses
Active navigation buttons so users can skip any step/question, as well as return to any step prior to submitting profile.
Additional step to include courses taken
Users can now remove any mentors within the "Current Mentors" page.
Since I designed the app for Georgia Tech, I wanted to keep the familiar school colors present throughout the app. For the font, I selected Avenir because it is a clean sans serif font that has a more relaxed feel to it, which is the feeling I hoped to evoke through the use of this application.
Discover mentors from organizations
Manage current mentors
What I Learned
Given that this was my first time doing a design sprint, learning to manage my time effectively was one of my biggest takeaways. I learned that it's okay to make assumptions about some things rather than spending an excessive amount of time analyzing solutions. My lesson for future week-long sprints: take risks and fail fast so you can continue to iterate on solutions to find one that will work.
Overall though, I truly enjoyed working on this challenge! I believe Mentors@Tech has a real potential to help all students with not just adjusting to campus life, but finding the best resources for anything they may need through pairing with experienced mentors.
While this app has several distinct features, there are still many additions that could also be implemented if I were to continue working on this design project.
Some new additions include:
Expanding interfaces to include mentor's feed and features, including managing requests from mentees
History page of previous mentors/mentees to keep track of connections
Partnering with current university mentorship programs and transitioning programs to utilize this app
Exploring the mentors side of the application and how to create the most efficient experience for them