One Week Design Challenge
Student organizations is a society or organization that operated by students at a university. University uses it as a platform to cultivate a student-centered learning environment, provide resources and support students growth. For this design challenge, I was asked to design an experience for new students to browse, search, and propose new student organizations.
This is a individual project that lasts one week. My contribution includes: design research, concept development, usability testing, workflow, wireframe and visual design.
RESEARCH and insights
I started my design process with a few questions in mind. By answering these questions, I would be able to have a better understanding of this problem space, users' desire and users' frustration:
1) In what situation and context will a new student browse and search for student organizations?
2) What is a new student looking for when browsing student organizations?
3) How does a new student decide which organization to participate?
4) In what situation will a new student want to propose a new student organization?
5) What concerns will a new student have if he/she is going to propose a new student organization?
By considering the time limitation, I used the questions above to inspire me and interviewed four new students at Indiana University to quick feedbacks about their experience with student organizations. I then used affinity mapping to see if they have similar needs or struggled about the same things. And here are what I found:
New students see student organizations as an excellent opportunity to get involved in a new environment.
When new students entered a new school, they usually do not know anyone there. Joining a student organization provides them with opportunities to meet new people who have the same interests as well as discovering fun activities and opportunities to become familiar with this new place.
New students care most about if the student organization fits
their interests or not.
There are a few factors may affect a student's decision when selecting one student organization: if this organization matches their interests and hobbies, how many members are in this organization, and what kind of events and activities this organization hosts.
New students prefer to participate in activities first before they decide whether to join the hosted organization.
New students are uncertain about their school schedule especially at the beginning of a new semester, and they are afraid of committing a student organization. Some of them prefer to participate in activities first to see if they like the hosted organization before they decided to join it.
If there are no student organizations that fit a new student's interests, he/she might go ahead to propose a new student organization.
Due to the unfamiliar with the new place and new school, new students do not propose new student organizations unless they know there are no student organizations that fit their interests and needs.
According to the research insights, here are some design opportunities for the new design:
Allow students to search not only organizations but also activities
Use categories to facilitate students to browse organizations and activities that match their interests and needs
Allow and encourage students to propose new student organizations if they failed to find what they are interested in
Explore design opportunities with whiteboard and sketches
GetInvolved is a website that not only allows students to browse, search and propose new student organizations but also helps them choose the right organization that fits their needs efficiently.
It allows students to browse by categories
Since students care most about if the student organization fits their interests or not, the link to categories is placed in a prominent area.
It provides search functions that fit all types of searching scenarios
According to my interview, I learned that there are four searching scenarios:
Wireframe flow about the search function:
How does the search bar work
The auto-suggestion mechanism is based on categories. For example, if 'basketball' is under the 'Sports' category, and a student typed 'basketball', he will not only see results relate to 'basketball' but also results relate to 'Sports'. Also, only when students spelled the word out, the auto-suggestion dropdown would show. For example, if a student typed 'S', nothing will show, but if he/she typed 'Sport' or 'Sports', the dropdown would pop up. I assume, this design is easy to understand from students standpoint, as well as easy to code from engineers standpoint.
It provides proper filters to help student browse easily
According to my interview, things that students want to know include: if this organization matches their interests and hobbies, how many members are in this organization, and what kind of events and activities this organization hosts. For activities, students also care about the date and location. Therefore, related filters are provided to help students have a better browsing experience.
It encourages students to propose new student organizations at the right moment
Besides allowing students to access the student organization registration page, it encourages students to propose and register new organizations if they cannot find the right organizations.
I assume this website will be built by the university and will be able to access students' information such as their major, interests, age, and gender. Once a student login to this website, he/she will be recommended activities and organizations based on their personal information, which ultimately can improve students' browsing experience.
To verify if the categories, search bar, and the filter make sense to students, I tested my wireframe and the design concept with two students. I asked them to search for a specific activity as well as to interpret the interface. Both of them mentioned that they would like to see more options about the activity filter. So I made the following modification:
Since my interviewees and I are all come from Indiana University, I followed the university design guide to design the final interface.
For the next step, I would like to do further research about the search bar and the auto-suggestion mechanism, as well as work with engineers to get feedback.
I also want to do more research on the quantity of recommending items on a web page. How many items should we recommend to users without overwhelming them? And when and where to layout the recommended items?
In addition, I would love to ideate more possibilities of the overall web layout, as well as the layout of activity thumbnail and organization thumbnail.