A native Android app that aims to enhance the remote working environment for young professional students to alleviate their frustration with scheduling collaborative work.
Roles: UX Researcher, UX Designer & Presenter
Timeline: 4 Day Sprint
Teams: Cindy Wu, Adad Salloum, Yara Bagh, Leo Mikulich, Elise Muraca, Mekeda Semeneh, Natalie Soberano
Tools Used: Figma, Adobe XD, and Google Docs
IBM challenged us to empathize with University students impacted by campus closures due to COVID-19.
Coastal University is looking to improve students’ ability to work collaboratively in a remote environment both within their programs and as professionals.
Impacted the most are final-year students, who are looking to transition to a dramatically different workforce than what they imagined when they began their degrees. Our objective was to explore how digital technologies can be leveraged to completely reimagine a final-year student's education experience.
improve the experience of Coastal University students when collaborating as members of virtual teams?
We started by looking at the current landscape. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a shift to online learning. Stats Canada noted that 57% of post-secondary students had some sort of academic interruption due to the pandemic. Students started to rely heavily on video calls, online chats, and emails which became their main form of communication.
From December of last year to Zoom’s peak usage in April, daily users have increased from 10 million to 300 million during the pandemic.
We made 4th-year students our target demographic as we learned they had difficulties transitioning from in-person to remote learning.
With this information in mind, we decided we wanted to assist graduating students and young professionals with the goal of improving their online learning experience by helping to enhance collaboration opportunities.
We all generated as many how might we questions as we could and categorized them into themes. We then followed the dot voting methods to select the best one that would help improve students' online learning and collaborative experiences.
In our interviews, participant Lori said: “The remote learning experience has been very tough for me. I have no motivation and a lack of student community. We only use zoom and email, but it's not the same and I have no access to campus resources.”
From our users we learned they were feeling isolated, learning from home. They are anxious about their success at school and their future in the workforce. They are feeling stressed and unorganized around coordinating schedules.
We created one primary persona who is a student transition to the workforce and the second one is a working professional as a teaching assistant. We focused on Emma, a 4th-year student at Coastal University working remotely from Toronto, ON. She is frustrated with scheduling appointments with counselors to get advice on her next steps into the workforce.
We learned about our competitors' current solutions.
Zoom has Video or audio calls, screen sharing, and group video conferences
Trello is a visual organization tool that allows for task tracking and collaboration
Slack provides project and team shared channels, direct messages, notifications, and calling
Due to COVID-19, Emma like all other students has been moved to remote learning. She is worried about transitioning into her professional career and wants advice from a guidance counselor. She heads to the University website to see their new protocols and downloads BookIt!, the school's new scheduling app.
BookIt! Is a native Android app that aims to enhance the remote working environment for young professional students to alleviate their frustration with scheduling collaborative work.
We chose to create an Android app due to the material design’s accessibility and realistic feel. It was also an opportunity to explore an alternative market from iOS.
Drawing from our inspiration board, each team member began sketching using the crazy 8 methods to rapidly ideate potential solutions. When we finished, we followed the art museum method, created a heat map, and used dot voting to select the concepts that we thought best solved our user’s pain points.
The sketches were then translated into grayscale wireframes in preparation for the user testing the next day. We wanted to have the first iteration ready for the meeting with the IBM team so we can have feedback before testing.
Meeting with IBM
On Day 3, we had the opportunity to meet with design leaders from IBM, David Burdeau, Senior Design Lead, and Dan Silveira, UX Designer, to talk about our process and receive feedback from them. As a team, we walked them through our HMW question and prototype. They felt our prototype was too well rendered and detailed for user testing. They encouraged us to embrace the process and not focused so much on the solution.
Divide and Conquer
After our meeting with IBM, the team decided to split into two smaller teams, to be more efficient with our time. Adad, Makeda, and Yara worked on the wireframes whereas Elise, Natalie, Leo, and I worked on the presentation for the next day to introduce our final solution to IBM and BrainStation.
We conducted 5, 30-minute user test sessions on students and young professionals. Users thought that the “add members” page was intuitive in searching and adding but was confused by our tabular navigation - the term “university” was ambiguous - was it anyone at the university or only staff? Users also felt that the final screen had inconsistencies with the date pickers and that the available times looked non-interactive.
Final Greyscale Wireframe
The brand guidelines were provided by Coastal University for us to follow. The solution needed to be accessible and WCAG AA Compliant. Avenir must be used as the primary typeface and brand colors are to be applied in the design.
With the prototype tested, we used the brand guidelines to begin designing our high-fidelity prototype. Adad, Makeda, and Yara worked on this task, while, Leo, Nicole, Natalie, and I continued to work on the presentation for the next day. Here is the final prototype on the right and it wants you to play with it!
We believe that by creating a scheduling app that encompasses communication and organization for young professional students we achieve our goal of enhancing collaborative opportunities.
If we had the chance for another sprint, we would like to continue to move forward with features to accommodate longer meeting times and further develop the project creation flow by adding tasks. We would also develop for iOS users.
Time to Reflect
While trying to solve remote collaboration within the scope of our project, our team had to learn how to manage our time and understand each of our roles. Working in different time zones, we had to set working hours for our team to communicate. We each introduce ourselves on the first day to share our background and experiences which helped to determine what role each member would take on. By dividing up the work, we were able to focus on getting the tasks done under the given time constraints.
Back To The Users
The pivotal moment in this design sprint experience was getting to meet the experienced IBM mentors. They taught us that we had to focus more on the experiences of the user. At one point, we were so focused on the design details that we lost sight of the purpose. It's always important to refer back to the pain points in the empathy map to make sure the project is on the right path.