Take a human-centered approach to designing or redesigning a service related to Energy. The service must include digital and physical components and meet the needs of customers.
It is difficult for students from different schools and majors to find each other and collaborate on interdisciplinary projects.
Kollab is a social platform that allows students from different schools and majors to connect and start interdisciplinary projects together.
As a design student, I build projects in school and on my own, but nothing I make becomes real until I can find an engineer to code it. I figured this can’t just be me. It must be just as difficult for me to find interdisciplinary support as it is for people from other majors as well, so it would be helpful if students could easily find people from other majors and support each other with work.
My problem lead to my initial idea for this project: what if there was a platform that connected students based on their projects?
With a platform like that, students from different majors can create projects, work together, and make them public for their peers, employers and potential investors to see.
Students who do not have professional connections have a hard time looking for teammates with different skill sets when starting a project.
How might we...?
How might we make it easier for students who need others with the same interest and different skill sets to find each other?
How might we allow work-seekers to directly see what they will be working on when they look for opportunities?
How might we allow students from different schools to connect for interdisciplinary projects?
INITIAL RESEARCH & MIND MAP
After deciding on the topic, I went on and talked to people around me: design students, engineering students, investors, my ex-coworkers.
I drew the mind map here to come up with ideas of the people ad things that might be involved in this project.
Design and engineering students from different schools who need each other to build projects.
Recruitment & Socialization
Collaboration & Skill sharing
In order to validate my hypothesis, I sent out 3 different surveys. Here are the results from the latest one.
We had 90 participants from 5 schools and more than ten majors around the bay area.
Users agree that every member of a team should be able to focus on something they are the most interested and specialized in when working on a group project.
Users mostly like to work on things they are good at.
93% of the users have been in a situation where they needed someone with a different skillset to work with them.
“Sometimes it’s hard to find a
teammate that is completely
compatible for the specific
project, they might be lacking
in one area but excelling in others.”
- Lillian S.
Stanford University, School of Engineering
Students need a social platform to share their project proposals and build connections in order to find others to collaborate.
I built two personas based on the research that I did: the first one is a design student, and the other is an engineering student.
Both of them have classes that require working with people from other majors; which is very common among college upperclassmen and grad students, and they will be our target users.
This is how I imagine the platform would change the experience of project-based recruitment for users. Overall, the product is about increasing exposure of the user’s ideas and making the recruitment process more efficient.
Here’s a storyboard of my first persona, Amy the design student, using our platform to find our second persona, Alex the engineering student, to collaborate on a project.
SKETCHES & TASK FLOWS
RESEARCH & ITERATIONS
The first prototype was finshed and tested in November, 2019. 37 rounds of usertesting had been done since then. I have been testing with the same group of people who filled out the surveys since the beginning, and here are some of the major insights.
Palo Alto, CA
San Francisco, CA
Users want total control on their projects: add delete and/or unpublish options
Users want to create their own hashtags and
Users are worried that their ideas might be stolen. Still looking for a good way to protect original ideas
Elaborate on communities:
allow posting, chatting, etc.
“I know I am going to want to take the project down or archive it at some point. I need full control over what I can do with my own projects.”
- Juliane Ward.
RISD, Interaction Design
Users need a place where they can post questions and ask for feedback
The community does not have to be for technical discussions
Not all communities need be exclusive to a certain group of people
A community like ‘Critique’ should allow everyone from designers, engineers to even PMs to share their questions and thoughts
“I go to Stack Overflow when I have technical issues on a project, but if I need to fix something that isn’t a good experience, I’ll need a place where I can ask people who know about UX more than I do.”
- Rodger Hampson.
Stanford University, School of Engineering
WORKING WITH A TEAM
Entrepreneur / Product Manager
In addition to finishing this project as my senior thesis, a friend of mine and I are collaborating and building it as a real project. We are currently a team of four, including me as the designer, our founder/product manager Qi Lu, and a group of engineers that we hired.
We have been working together on the site since September, 2019, and the website prototype is online at this link:
Because I am working with a team, I have to accommodate to my teammates' schedules sometimes and do additional work. I am privileged to have the opportunity to work with engineers and do PM/QA work in addition to designing. Our dozens of testing has been taking much more time than I expected, especially since it is online. In order to properly collaborate with engineers, I learned how to write data models and bug reports, and I am going to need to learn more about product management.
Trying to do usertests while being quarantined is difficult, scheduling is a pain for everybody, and not all feedback is constructive. Learning from existing products and being able to differentiate from them is key.
The end of this semester will not be the end of this project. Because we are building it as a real product, we will continue to build on the website and test, and hopefully officially publish it some time in the near future.
Senior Project Presentation, FA 2019