User research, Wireframing, Sketching, Competitive analysis, Personas, Prototyping
CHALLENGE - MENTORSHIP CONNECTION
Design an experience where prospective mentors and mentees can be matched, based on similar interests, location, and availability
Iterate for real needs and better user experience
I conducted the end-to-end research and design process, from talking with potential mentors or mentees to validating my design decisions by testing with target users. My design evolved along 3 rounds of iteration at different design stages.
Framing the problem
I started out with some brainstorming to explore the topic of the mentorship connection and gather my initial thoughts. I also listed several goals of my later research, including:
Who are my potential users?
What are some needs that my design solution should address?
What are the opportunities in current market space?
I did some competitor research first to see how other existing solutions were tackling this issue. I analyzed multiple existing matching platforms, including LinkedIn, Facebook groups, re:create, Meetup and communities that provide mentorship programs, to explore current matching process users can utilize to find mentors or mentees. This helped me to understand what have been done and why it is effective or futile. I discovered four main gaps that led to users’ frustrations and possible opportunities for future improvements:
Build connection between users
Support motivation to create relationship with strangers
No review and unclear information of availability
People can be mentor in one field and mentee in another field, it’s difficult to switch between mentor and mentee
I conducted several rounds of interviews with a total of 7 target users to identify their pain points. It turn out that their frustrations stemmed out from three aspects:
Unclear information of availability, interests and ability
Searching and matching process is too long
"There are some mentorship programs require regular meetings, but I cannot make it."
" I think mentorship is about building relationships with others. But it's hard for me to find the right match."
" I spend too much time on searching the right mentor, also sometimes I want to be mentor in another field."
"It's hard for me to connecting with those who need my help. I don't know where to find them."
By interviewing the target users, I created 2 personas intentionally avoid demographic details since these don’t help me to understand or predict their behavior, but may lead me to unwanted assumptions instead. My personas were 1 mentor and and 1 mentee with varied pain points.
Narrow down the focus
The main goal of the design is to find the right match between potential mentor and mentee and make the process easier. Synthesizing the findings, I decided the overarching design rationale for my following design process:
Find the right match easily and quickly
Make it easier and comfortable as possible for the busy mentor and mentee to schedule meetings
Help both pairs to build trustable relationship
ITERATION AND REFINEMENT
Prototyping with different fidelity
Based on the design rationale, I jump into a quick sketch to map out the user flow.
After a couple of paper iterations, I had the general idea ready, and I switched to Sketch to create the digital wireframes. I tested with users and iterated rapidly with lo-fi wireframes. This phase helped me to identify usability issues and improve the user experience. Below are my different rounds of wireframes.
To focus on the key functions and features of the product before going to design details and HI-FI prototypes, I iterated on the wireframes for the main features:
Switch between mentor and mentee
And this was the final result of user flow after a couple of iterations in Sketch:
Changes for even better
Design change 1
My first iteration of explore screen provided popular categories for users to explore and a reminder of filling out the short questionnaire on the top screen (If users didn't fill out the questionnaire during onboarding).
I changed this design because, from my testing, I realized that almost all the users don't need the option of exploring different categories. Their primary goal of using the app is to find the right matched mentors/mentees quickly. Therefore, I decided to go with a homepage that shows recommended results based on users' previous questionnaire answers.
Design change 2
I iterated on the bottom navigation several times and found that the immediate benefits of adding a schedule view is help busy people updating their time availability easily and quickly. So I finally opted for bottom navigation with 4 views:
As busy users updating their time availability, the app will continue sending notification to them for new matched people.
Connect that creates meaningful connections
A refined onboarding experience for an even better matching experience.
After signing in, users will come to the welcome screen. The welcome screen is pretty simple and provides two options for users: looking for mentor or looking for mentee. It also informs users that they can switch between mentor and mentee at anytime.
The next screen explains why users are encouraged to complete the questionnaire in order to provide the best matching experience. The questionnaire itself is pretty short and simple. It covers the most important questions to ask and each screen has one single question at the top and multiple choices below. Users can go back to change the responses or go forward to skip a question.
The questions for both mentor and mentee are pretty much the same, including: area of expertise, acceptable price, schedule availability, way of mentoring, location and advice details. Those information would be used to simplify matching experience and help users find the right match quickly.
Some questions may differ, for example, a mentee will be asked to choose the acceptable price range, and a mentor will be asked to set the specific mentoring price. This could help both mentor and mentee to save time as they do not need to negotiate the price later.
Price screen for mentee
Price screen for mentor
Another example is: if users choose to commit to regular meetings, the next screen will ask them to set up the available regular meeting times. If users are very busy and cannot commit to the regular meetings, they can provide their current available times for the next few days. This could filter out people who don't match user's schedule and help potential mentors and mentees schedule meetings more easier later.
For those who can commit to regular meetings
For busy users
Upon completing the questionnaire, users are redirected to a screen where showing a summary of insights about what kind of mentor/mentee would be a great fit for them based on the previous answers. This could help users understand what kind of criteria will be used when looking for good match.
The screen will also remind users that they can edit the responses in the profile anytime.
Matching made easy.
Explore screen for mentor
Explore screen for mentee
The questions that users have previously answered are used to rank and grade the personalized matching results.
People who are a good fit for the users will be shown at the top of the screen. Each card shows the primary information, for example, the price, area of expertise, location and ways of mentoring, it also covers a summary of what kind of advice this person hope to get or could give. This could help users make quick decisions at a glance.
In order to not overwhelming users, I decided to provide the information users care most at the top of the detail screen as it would help users to make decision more quickly and easily.
The product's goal is to create better matching experience and help users find the right match quickly. So the top screen basically already shows all the most important and relevant information: a headshot, price, area of expertise, location and ways of mentoring. I have decided to also provide the information of whether or not it's a good match for users as it could also helpful for saving users time.
I decided to put Favorite in the FAB because I want to encourage users create a saved list and increased user engagement. The Schedule action is shown on the top of the screen. This could be helpful for those who want to check the specific schedule availability and directly book a session.
At the last part of the detail screen, I decided to include a comment session, so users could have a better idea of the mentor/mentee before making decision and reaching out.
For the design of scheduling a session with mentor/mentee, I found most users are very busy and often can only provide their availability for next few days based on previous user research. So I decided to use a simple way to show both the available dates and times. User could check the availability very quickly.
Edit current schedule availability
Help busy people create meaningful relationship more easily.
Busy users can change their schedule availability on the schedule screen. The edited availability will be used to rerank and regrade the personalized matching results on the explore page.
Users could also check their upcoming and past schedule on this screen. This could not only served as remind function, but also help users to know more about each other and build trust relationship. Users can get in touch before and after the mentoring.
Favorites & Messages
Personalize your app and build connection beyond distance.