My Client

Ellis Innovation Institute* is a non-profit technology training school in New York City. Through generous funding they are able to provide free tech training programs to selected high school graudates in the fields of software development, artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction.
*This is a fictional organization I created to fufill a design challenge. 

The Challenge

In the span of 1 week:
• Create a brand design
• Create personas based on real people
• Design a mentorship program
• Design a high fidelity clickable prototype

My Role

I was responsible for every step of the design process: user research, ux strategy, wireframing, visual design, usability testing and prototyping. I also enlisted the help of a collegue to collaborate on the initial brainstorming session.

The Problem

Design an experience where Ellis alumni and recently graduated students can be paired in a mentorship program, based on similar interests, location, and availability. Many potential mentors are often too busy to commit to regular meetings, or they have a hard time connecting with people seeking help. Design a product that helps create a meaningful and productive mentor relationship over time.​​​​​​​

Big Picture Problem

Because many of the mentees are coming from less educated households they really need the support of a mentor to excel in their chosen field. Mentorship can be a way to change one's status in America where upward mobility is so hard.
My Design

First I'll show you an overview of the features I designed and next I'll take you through my entire design process.

Features
My Design Process

Research

I started by seeking out working tech professionals who were interested in mentoring; 
I spoke to 4 people and asked them these questions:
• "Why are you interested in being a mentor?"
• "What's currently preventing you from being a mentor?"
• "What's important to you when selecting someone to mentor?"
• "Are there any tools you use to schedule and keep plans?"
I also spoke to 2 people who had been mentored as part of a school program and asked them these questions:
• "Why were you interested in participating in a mentor program?"
• "Tell me about your experience, is there anything that could've been improved?"
• "What's important to you when chooseing someone to mentor you?"
• "Are there any tools you use to schedule and keep plans?"


Summary of Research Findings

All of the potential mentors I spoke to were very interested in mentorship for a variety of reasons: personal connection, practicing leadership skills, giving back to their community, and networking. I confirmed that 4 out of 4 potential mentors were not currently mentoring because of lack of time and not because of lack of available mentees. In fact, several mentors had people that had reached out to them but they hadn't followed up more than once. 
Mobile First 
5 out of 6 interviewees mentioned that they use their phones to schedule appointments, which led me to create a mobile first product. Of course a native mobile application would be great but because of time constraints it was important to build a responsive website first. 

Personas

I used my research findings to create 2 personas. 
Sketching

I like to sketch out ideas on paper before starting on the computer.
Wireframing and Usability Testing

I created black-and-white wireframes and then a clickable prototype that I was able to test with 3 users.

Selection of wireframes

Before and After Testing

Evolution from wireframe to high fidelity design for the dashboard screen

Changes to dashboard after testing:
• Added stats and link to mentor page to dashboard (it was previously an icon in the top right corner)
• Removed "assignments" feature everywhere after negative results from all 3 testers. It needed more research and testing then I was able to complete in time. 

Evolution from wireframe to high fidelity design for the mentee screen

Changes to mentee page after testing:
• Added tabs for goals and profile to this page instead of linking to a separate page
• Removed "assignments" 

Evolution from wireframe to high fidelity design for the "create meeting" screen

Changes to create meeting page after testing:
• Combined all elements onto one page to eliminate number of clicks
• Redesigned the availability chooser
• Removed "assignments" 
High Fidelity Prototype

I created this prototype using Sketch and Invision.
Next Steps

I would like to do more user testing on the high fidelity prototype to try to improve the existing features before building a native application. With a native app, I could add device notifications and a messenger which would be very helpful for my personas. 

Conclusion

Mentors wanted to help and mentees wanted to receive that help, they just needed to be connected and motivated to make interactions happen. I believe that this application minimizes the tiring back-and-forth that sometimes happens when you're emailing to coordinate an appointment and it also motivates people to continue rewarding the relationship over time as they see their progress and goals grow. 
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