Spark! Innovation Fellowship: ExperienceBU

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Timeline

January - May 2020

Role

UX design, UX research

Team

Ryan Li (Developer)

Tung Truong (Developer)

Ben (Tuan Anh) Vu (Developer)

Tools

Adobe XD, Sketch, InVision, JIRA, Adobe Illustrator

The Challenge

How can we make the process of finding events and clubs on campus easier and more efficient for students at Boston University?

The Solution

A website that streamlines the search for events and organizations on campus by tailoring to students' schedule.

📄 Overview

I was a UX Design Fellow at Boston University’s Spark! Innovation Fellowship program. The Spark! Fellowship program is dedicated to catalyzing Boston University student innovators passionate about solving problems through technology. For this project, I worked with three developers as a sole UX designer on my team.

Problem: Students at Boston University have difficulty finding clubs and/or events on the campus.

Product Goal: We want to create a product that addresses the issue of finding a community at BU by improving search for events, clubs, and opportunities, as well as tailoring it to students’ schedules.

Value Proposition: Our product will help Boston University students who want to find a community by facilitating and streamlining the search for events on campus and factoring both schedules and keywords, unlike large social media platforms like Facebook and current BU resources such as BU Engage.   

Value Proposition Canvas

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Assumptions Map

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🔍 Research

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Problem Interviews

 

To initialize our primary research, we started by interviewing our target users. Specifically, we interviewed freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. We were able to interview 5 of our target users based on our schedule.

Finding #1: Many freshmen and sophomores are not aware of official BU platforms like BU Engage or BU Calendar and do not use them even if they are aware of them.

Finding #2: BU students rely heavily on SPLASH (annual student organizations fair), social media (Facebook groups), email newsletter, and word of mouth to receive information on events.

Finding #3: Most of our interviewees went through a tedious process to find a suitable club.

Based on our findings, the following design implications can be made, we realized that the one common core need of our target users is indeed a streamlined search for events on-campus, so that those who did not initially sign up for the club can view the events in a transparent way as well.

The following are design implications and features that could potentially be included in our product:

  • Allow users to contact clubs before attending events

  • Filters that narrow down search in terms of interests and time

  • A schedule function that can add events to their schedule and see which events the users can attend based on their schedule

Validation Experiments

 

To begin our validation experiments, we used Reddit and Facebook to gauge the amount of interest in our product to determine if this project idea indeed has a market. We first determined our validation threshold:

“We are moving forward with this project if we receive validation on the hypothesis that BU students cannot efficiently find on campus clubs or activities with the current resources available from Freshmen and sophomores interview subjects and 40% from a population of at least 100 people from our validation experiments.”

​The result was that our validation threshold was exceeded, so we can move on with this project.

On Reddit, we used a discussion thread to identify keywords and advice: SPLASH and social media were mentioned the most based on what users used, and there was a clear indication of desire for a better platform.

On Facebook, we ran an ad as well as Facebook polls in various BU Facebook groups to gauge interest in the product. The ad had received approximately 1/4th of validation threshold within 24 hours of creation. Meanwhile, the Facebook polls also exceeded our expectations.

Facebook Ad Statistics Summary

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User Persona

To better understand our target users, I created three user personas: a try-hard freshman, an international student, and a junior career chaser.

 

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🖍 Ideation: Crazy 8's

As the user stories were clarified, we all had a good idea of what features and functions the product will entail. Thus, we started our brainstorming session for our design sprint through a method called “crazy 8’s prioritization.” It is a fast sketching exercise where each of us were given 1 min to sketch an idea with a total of 8 minutes. This means that with the four of us, we would have 32 ideas in the span of 8 minutes. The following picture shows the result. After the ideas were sketched, we discussed what was on there as a group and voted for ideas that we wanted to prioritize. 

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🖥  Prototype

Low-Fidelity Prototype

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Before I could create a high-fidelity prototype, I wanted to create a low-fidelity prototype and receive feedback. 

Usability Testing

 

In order to test it, we recruited 5 target users to participate in our usability testing sessions. We went through a series of solution interviews where we asked the users to use the prototype and think-aloud as they do so. Through the feedback sessions, we discovered that the participants really liked the schedule function for which users can easily see which events they can go to based on their schedule. Based on their feedback, I adjusted the prototype accordingly and created the second version of the low-fidelity prototype, which I used as a basis for my final prototype.

Final Prototype

Home Page that advertises important events and student organizations

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Events page that allows users to search for events and filter event types → 

Users can choose a colored schedule block, which indicates that there are events at that time.

Yellow indicates overlap between the user’s school schedule and the events in that block.

Green indicates no schedule conflict. 

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Organizations page with search and filter for organization types

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Event & Organization Information Page

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User Profile: Profile, Calendar, My Events, My Organizations

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🧐  If There Were No Contraints...

Due to time constraints, we were only able to interview 5 people for both our problem interview and solution interview. While we conducted validation experiments to ensure that our project has a market, we could have spent more time on UX research by conducting a survey or creating an affinity diagram for our interview. 

 

 If I had more time, I would have added in more animation and interactions in the hi-fi prototype. I would also have improved design for accessibility and developed a responsive website prototype by adding in a mobile screen size version of the website.

Here are a list of features we would implement if we were to continue with this project:

  • Tracking achievements: As users attend events and become members of more organizations, they will be able to accumulate different achievements for their personal satisfaction. 

  • Allowing users to add their own events. 

  • If users do not have a Google Calendar, they will just need to screenshot their BU schedule, and we will make a calendar for you. 

  • Admin side of the website where they will be allowed to manage and edit their own club.

💭 Reflection

It was fun working with a group of developers and I am glad that we were all involved in the research phase of the project. I appreciate how my developer teammates gave me suggestions when I was making the initial wireframes on paper during the design sprint. I also want to thank my design mentor, Margot Menestrot, for giving me lots of advice. The program was certainly a simulation of a start-up environment so I thought it was an interesting experience.

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