5 days, JAN,  2020

Developing a mentoring service for International students moving to US

How might we help new international students in US to adjust to the new environment?

Individual Project / Design Exercise
UI/UX Design, User Research, User Flow, Prototyping, Wireframing, Future scope

Interactive Demo
* Feel Free to play with the demo following along the video demo

Interactive demo
Video demo

Preliminary research: Discovering

1. Some international students may require more support in order to succeed in their college environment

One research[1] shows that
“international college students experience high levels of acculturative stress, which can adversely impact their health and college success.”

Their major painpoints include:
① language barriers, ② educational difficulties, ③ loneliness, ④ discrimination, and ⑤ practical problems associated with changing environments

2. International students constitute a significant portion of student body in School of Visual Arts

* Source :  
[1] Hardaye R. HansenYuliya, Shneyderman Gloria S, McNamaraLisa Grace, Acculturative stress and native and U.S. culture immersion of international students at a community college, 2018
[2] John Elflein, Top mental health concerns for college students, Feb 11, 2019
[3] College factual, School of Visual Arts International Student Report, 2019 

Secondary Research: Scoping the problem

1. Preliminary user interviews
I organized the preliminary user interviews for the two key objectives:
(1) to identify the target audiences who need the mentoring system the most
(2) to evaluate the current mentoring system.
I interviewed 6 students. The interviews lasted 40 to 90 minutes. The participants were given pre-determined interview questionnaires and followup questions.

2. User analysis on 1st and 2nd year students in MFA Interaction Design program
I positioned 35 students in IXD program based on their working experience(vertical axis) and fluency(horizontal axis). This graph represents the significant gap between the first year students and the second year students. And I figured out who could become mentors and mentees

Identifying painpoints & Systhesizing

* Feel free to click the image to see the process

I color-coded key phrases from the interviews and grouped them into 6 categories: Painpoints, insights, opportunitiy areas, mentor’s and mentee’s requirements, and device. To discover solutions, I systhesizied each finding into 6 new themes.

Insights on users

 Key findings & Opportunities 

Mentoring service will be the most effective on the specific time period from the time when a new student signed their admission letter to the end of their first semester.

Unlike other pre-existing systems, the service create casual and simple space to communicate.

Students think one-on-one mentoring could also be beneficial while they can also gather and aggregate information from multiple people.

It is good for mentors and mentees to be physically close, making each other more available

User journey map


Key iteration based on feedback

1. Weaknesses
① Onboarding
“Buttons acrossing the screen are too big for a mobile phone. It could be sensitive.”
“How can I go back if I tap the wrong option?” 

② Questionaire
“I think people cannot define their personality only with a questionaire.”

③ Main screen & Timeline icons
“I cannot understand the footer icons. If I can have a writing button, it would be way convenient.” 

2. Strengths
① Questionaire
“ The questions and options are very clear. The colors and design elements are attractive.” 

② Timeline
“I feel that it would be good to see mentor’s profile and timeline before the semester starts. And feel interested to see the comparison between mentor’s timeline and mine.”

③ Filters on main screen
“I like filtering options under the search bar. It looks convenient.” 

Future scope

 ➊ Ecosystem
1) Although this project focused on the specific school, it has the potential to be applied for any college which has increasing international students. It could be a standard platform for universities.

➋ Further thoughts
1) I would like to see the feasibility to execute this project by testing the mobile prototyping to more students, a student advisor, and a school administrator.
2) Beyond the digital service, I would like to prototype and test about seating experience to prove how physical proximity increases the interaction among people.