Travelog

Customized and collaborative planning. Relieving stress from your (group) excursion.



I began Mind Space at the end of August as a personal project towards the right direction- an eye opening process that I hope will spread awareness about mental health. I took on the responsibilities of UX Researcher, UI Designer, and Usability Tester. Tools used: Sketch, Adobe XD, Figma, Photoshop, Principle


I began Mind Space at the end of August as a personal project towards the right direction- an eye opening process that I hope will spread awareness about mental health. I took on the responsibilities of UX Researcher, UI Designer, and Usability Tester. Tools used: Sketch, Adobe XD, Figma, Photoshop, Principle


DESCRIPTION

Plus Me's Journal is now an immersive digital experience. Administrators can now track students' progress more easily, having more control over managing activities and journal entries. Our Code The Change team helped the organization create this web product.


TIMELINE

Oct 2019 - Apr 2020


TEAM & ROLES

Me - Product Design Lead
Jillian Khoo - Tech Lead
Harshil Shah - Project Manager
Chloe Tanlimco, Natalie Abreu, Ashwin Bhumbla, Matt Evenson, Adam Egyed - Developers


GOALS

1. Give students the ability to extend and craft their stories outside of just the classroom.
2. An interactive and more immersive experience for the student. In other words, making the storytelling experience for them, more than just filling out a journal.



INTRODUCTION
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Our Code The Change team was notified of who our nonprofit client- Plus Me - in August 2019. In the beginning of October, we officially kicked off the project - we met once a week to discuss ideas and progress updates. This was a year long project, consisting of 10 separate sprints from October to April.

Right now, Plus Me is using the new digital experience in their July camps. So far, it's been working well - we've received lots of positive feedback on it from the team!

One of our later sprints (February 2019)

From one of our weekly meetings - planning student activities page for administrators.


ABOUT PLUS ME

Plus Me is a narrative-based nonprofit outreach program in Los Angeles whose mission is to instill community and confidence in underrepresented youth through storytelling. Their programs target middle and high school students, providing these students the opportunity to craft their storytelling skills and realize their true potential. When Plus Me guest speakers tell their own stories, they help students become motivated and inspired by their futures.


THE CURRENT SYSTEM

Plus Me administrators spend 3-4 hours a week with students from different schools. They are encouraged to work on different parts of their journal. Currently, they use a paper version.

The journal is meant for students to write about their life stories, role models, and accomplishments. These all help students recognize their own potential and talent through the act of storytelling (hopefully, they can use these stories for their college application essays!).


THE CHALLENGE

Plus Me can only physically spend a few (3) hours with the (90,000) students in the classroom a week. They want to give students the ability to extend their story outside of the classroom and share it with others. The current system in places calls for a printed journal for every student. And right now, students and only just "filling out a journal." How can we help Plus Me create a more immersive and inclusive storytelling experience?

Plus Me came to Code The Change with a strong idea what they wanted the product to achieve. This gave us a set of guidelines to work off of, but we had to make sure that our solution matched Plus Me's product goals, and that it would be a seamless experience for both the student and administrator.



A SUCCESSFUL SOLUTION

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Ideally, a successful solution would:
1. Represent Plus Me's three pillars: community, equity, & social justice.
2. Allow students to engage with storytelling outside of the 3 hours Plus Me admins are with them in class.
3. Create a sense of deep community and connection amongst the students themselves, and between students and admins.

Plus Me's original product vision goals for the students:
1) Ability for students to be able to fill out their journals in an interactive way.
2) Easy to use and make sense to the students.
3) Ability for students can share their stories with their friends. They will be able to interact socially on the platform.

Plus Me's original product vision goals for the admins:
1) Be able to add additional resources to the platform (scholarship information, CommonApp Essay prompts, etc.)
Plus Me's Style Guide- available on their website.


PROBLEM CAUSES

What's at the root of this problem? Plus Me has partnered with so many schools, and have not yet had the opportunity to update the student storytelling experience. They've found a method that "works" to extent that it gets the basic job done (paper pencil handouts & stories), but the experience for both students and admins can be more engaging, social, and interactive.

OUR USERS
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Meet Samantha Rhodes - student. And Eric Johnson, a Plus Me administrator.


INTERVIEWS & INSIGHTS

The project manager and tech lead were the points of communication to and from Plus Me and their representatives. In the latter part of summer, Jillian and Harshil spoke to Richard Reyes (founding member of the nonprofit)on multiple occasions to talk about user needs/wants/frustrations. Plus Me already had a good sense of what they wanted the product to achieve. We also received valuable feedback and advice from the team when presenting our first iterations in April.

Here are the questions asked when speaking to Richard about the administrators:
1. What features do you want to interact with on Plus Me's Digital Journal? What is necessary, and what are "nice-to-haves?"

And about the students...
1. What are your thoughts on making your journal digital?
2. Do you think this will be beneficial or not for you personally and why?
3. What influence has Plus Me had on your life, currently?
4. How often do you write in your Plus Me journal, currently?



IDEATION & WIREFRAMES

After having conversations with the founder and multiple discussions on what we can/are not capable to achieve during this 6 month period, the nice to haves became lower priority.

In the beginning: went through very quickly low fidelity wireframes. As PM and Tech Lead spoke with founder more and more, we added on/took away features to further fit the refined product vision.
Phase 1 (October-December) consisted of making the student portal and journal activities.
Main design question for this phase: How do we make the journaling activity more interactive and engaging for the students?

Feature Ideas for Phase 1:
1. Transfer journal information onto digital journal, maintaining previous design's integrity (main)
2. Ability for students to share stories to and from friends. They can read each other's stories and get inspiration from those closest to them. (became a nice to have)

Phase 2 (January-March) was focused on incorporating the admin portal into the Plus Me experience- they want admins and students to work alongside each other in a smooth manner.
Main design question for this phase: How do we give admins more capability and control over how they coordinate the students' journaling activities across the country?

Feature Ideas Phase 2:
1. Ability for admins to track metrics:
    a. Overall: how many students are using the digital platform
    b. Per student: how many students were active in the last week, active journal entries, activities completed,         etc.
2. Ability for admins to manage what journal entries/activities students are working on (to add and delete.    digital journal sections)
3. add/delete schools, add/delete admins & creating super admins
4. sending mass emails, or individual emails to students/other admins
5. adding other college related components: common app essay prompts, scholarship information (nice to.     have)


FINAL DESIGNS

How does our final product act as an interactive digital journal that helps students engage with their stories? How does it allow Plus Me administrators to be more involved in guiding students to the track of success, without having to be physically in the classroom to provide instruction and direction?

Pain Point #1:
Having the students' journaling experience to be on paper was not helping them engage in developing their stories and being inspired by their friends and more importantly, themselves. Founder Richard Reyes noted that students felt less engaged in the activity and less motivated to be inspired by those around them when using the paper journal. Also, school admins were not able to spend as much time with the students physically (only being able to dedicate 3 hours a week).

Solution Part 1:
Digitized version of the journal, making this more of an interactive experience for the students. This digital version maintains the design integrity of their previous paper journals. This allows students to work on their journal when admins are not physically present. It also allows for more flexibility for both students/admin and and a broader scope for activities.


Pain point #2:
Plus Me administrators were having a difficult time keeping track of students' journaling activities across the schools. They wanted a more organized way to keep track of students' journaling progress - like what activity they are on, what journal entries have been completed or not, when were the students last active working on a certain activity, etc.

Solution Part 2:
An admin portal feature that allows the administrator to check student progress and other important metrics.


Pain point #3:
Without the admin being physically there with the student, there is no sure way of managing the students' activities on the journal. The admins would like more oversight over students' activities in the interactive journal, when they are not in the classroom with the students.

Solution Part 3:
We can allow the admins to add/delete activities and questions. And they can choose if the student should answer with a long or short response. This way, students can work at the pace at which the admin prescribes.


Pain point #4:
It is currently difficult for Plus Me to manage administrators and schools. It currently has no system in place to track and organize the students, schools, and administrators.

Solution Part 4:
Admins now have the ability to add new administrators, to assign the role of "Super Admin" to a current administrator, or to delete any one of these.


Pain Point #5:
Admins don't have the ability to communicate with students on a mass level.

Solution Part 5:
They now have the ability to send emails to all users, active users, or users from a certain school.


DESCRIPTION

Mind Space is a personal health companion that aims to improve to your mental state with cognitive tools.


ROLE

Principle Product Designer
UX Researcher
User Testing


TIMELINE

Aug 2019 - Dec 2019


TOOLS

Sketch
Principle
M
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After completing two calls with Plus Me, my team's developer lead, project manager, and I set out to generate basic ideas that would suit the outreach organization. We went the through the logistics of the to-be interactive website- what tabs we need, how we would naturally place the information we needed onto the website screen. I am still in process of generating iterations of which are to be reviewed by the team at a nearer time. I'm super excited to see how the final website turns out. Plus Me deserves all the best with the positive social impact the organization is creating in the community.

I will be keeping this page update as we near the finish product!
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

Many teenagers and adults struggle with mental health issues- either in silence or without the proper self help tools. Some individuals are lucky enough to be able to seek professional help, but many would benefit from the extra self aid a mobile companion could provide.
MARKET SCAN

Many self help applications in the market costs a certain fee and as young adults, we may not be able to allocate a budget for taking care of our own mental health- as there are so many other expenses to cover. Headspace for example, is a meditation application that has a fee of $5.00 a month.

WHY CARE?
MARK'S USER JOURNEY

Let's follow Mark's mental health story. Unfortunately, he goes through a traumatizing mental breakdown that cycles downwards.

THE SOLUTION- MIND SPACE
The Homepage - complete your daily tasks.

Check your moods for today or the days before. Write a brief journal. Complete a short meditation course. Mind Space will remind its users to complete all three tasks.

Meditation Courses - browse through instructions of increased concentration.

Free for all, users can choose from quick lessons that are 5 minutes each. From there, they can complete one time, 10 minute lessons that are geared towards specific events in the day. Specialized lessons are created as longer guides towards positive practices.

Emotions - Check in with how you're feeling today.

Track your emotions each day and check your progress weekly or monthly. A breakdown of your mood count is located at the bottom of the page.

Journaling - Outpour your thoughts.

Users can choose the subject of the entry through tags and begin the daily journal at the bottom container. Filter your past entries with tags, moods, or by date.
RESEARCH PROCESS

I interviewed 20 individuals aged 18-28 for their opinions on whether or not there has been a lack of accessible and affordable self help tools in the market. I found that the majority believed that YES, there was a significant lack of mobile resources to help keep track of mental health progress.



And some interesting quotes...

SO HOW MIGHT I...
SYNTHESIS‍

An affinity diagram of users' pain points.

IDEATION

Foremost goal: To combine the most important needs of young adults in tracking their mental health progress. Here's a user flowchart of all the screens in a hierarchical fashion.


Description

Spero helps survivors of sexual assault to heal and seek treatment- by connecting them to trauma therapists, community, and self-help resources.


Timeline

Feb 2020 - April 2020, 8 weeks
Design Update: Aug 2020, 4 weeks


Role

Primary UI Designer
User Researcher
Co-Founder


Goals

1. Aid survivors in transition between trauma & recovery.
2. Encourage survivors to seek long-term psychotherapy recovery options.
3. To get users off of the product long term.
4. To empower patients and give them their strength back.


Overview

As survivor of sexual assault, I am always inspired to help people who've gone through these horrific events. This is my capstone product project.

All around us, there are people who have remained silent about their traumatic experiences. Our friends, family, and co-workers you may not even know have survived sexual assault are as a result, grappling with psychological turmoil. Far too often, the largely taboo and deeply triggering subject of sexual assault and consent are avoided and stigmatized.




OVERVIEW

I had the tremendous opportunity to work on a product concept to help survivors of sexual assault, heal. This project is our team's capstone product project. Advocacy for sexual assault survivors is a shared goal for each of us in the group.

The problem - suffering in silence.

Less than half of the people who have been sexually assaulted are not speaking up about their experiences with sexual assault/violation. Survivors are not receiving the support that is required for them to heal. They are being discouraged to seek help and to tell their story.


Root Causes


Meet Cindy - Student & Survivor

She, like many others around her, is a victim of a sexually traumatizing experience. Cindy's university doesn't have the resources to help her. And she's got rent and tuition to pay herself. Struggling to cope with the enormous mental and emotional weight of it all, Cindy's at a loss for what to do.

Following research, I placed our targeted users into categories separated firstly by role: survivors and therapists. Then, by gender: she/her, he/him, and they/them. Since the project will be designed first and foremost to help the survivor, I'll focus on them for now.


And Anitra, one of our partner licensed trauma therapists.


Solution Objectives

For the product: act as a transitioner between a survivor and prolonged trauma help. We need to encourage survivors to come forth and seek recover options when they’re ready. A successful solution would achieve this in a safe space and it would connect survivors with long term psychotherapy options (CBT, EMDR).

For the patient: allow them to feel empowered again, to give them back control of their lives. The trauma experience will never be forgotten. Symptoms will not automatically be alleviated. So the product would point the patient on a recovery path that would mean gaining the healthy coping skills to function better & to reduce shame/guilt.


Gaining perspective from the community
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We set out to interview individuals around us, who would be comfortable sharing for this project. The target audience for our potential product are members of Generation Z and younger millennials (ages 18-35). Because this is such a touchy, complex, and sensitive subject of conversation, we took extra care in the research process.



User Concerns
‍‍‍
Here's what we learned from our interviews. The 3 largest areas for concern were emotional, monetary, and lifestyle based.

Following our interviews, it became very important to consider two main concepts:

1) What medium (website, mobile, both) will help our users solve their problems?

2) How exactly will therapy work? Our aim was to encourage and guide survivors towards long term trauma therapy but how are different business models going to affect the patients and psychologists who work with us? We considered a few of options:

a) Having a tiered plan (including a completely "free" basic plan), where the trauma therapists would not be fully trained, but perhaps volunteers who are passionate about sexual assault survival advocacy. The more patients could pay, the better care they would get.

b) Having our service open to both insured and non-insured patients. This way, the fee will be an affordable $25 a session - copay or not. We would partner with licensed trauma therapists all over the country- who would be open to teletherapy.


More user testing

By August, it was becoming more evident that my designs were becoming outdated, inconsistent, and not nearly as “in touch” with the users as it should be. With all the unrest going on in the country, accessibility and inclusivity has become a top priority. So I’ve actually been working on a redesigns on the side - doing more user tests and interviews on the current (old) designs which has helped so much! Here are the users' tasks and their opinions on the overall flow of the product.

The first task- find and connect with a therapist you think would be a good fit for you. Now, how was that experience for you?


Design options

From there, I set out to create a redesign. Here are some features I additionally test and received helpful opinions on.

The first feature: What avatar should be used in the community section, so to maintain anonymity?




Final Designs

Access therapy, resources and the community from the homepage.

Pain Point #1:
Not receiving proper information about sexual assault- how to prevent it, what it is, and how to cope with the trauma in a healthy way. Some may believe that recovery will never be possible - which is false.

Solution Part 1: Restore self empowerment with Care/Healthy Coping Guides.
Psychoeducation is the first step to healing and processing trauma. It's not a full replacement for reinventing how sexual education is taught, but this is the first step. Self help guides for Cindy, David, and other survivors- on topics ranging from reporting an incident, to managing flashbacks, to regaining confidence.


Pain Point #1a:
Male survivors of sexual assault also hope to recover and cope, but they feel that they may be antagonized by females, or by others who have misogyny misogynistic views.
.
Solution Part 1a: For male survivors, reject gender meshing for a more comfortable experience.
For male survivors like David, there is a different community and portrayal of values that would be comfortable for him.


Pain Point #2:
Survivors find it difficult to open up about their experiences and to seek long term help because of the shame, denial, and social stigmas that society embraces. They seek a comfortable space where people will be understanding, nonjudgemental, and most importantly- empowering for each other.

Solution Part 2: Finding strength with community.
A closely watched forum-style feature that allows users to browse through survival stories, therapist recommendations for recovery, positive messages of support, and tips on getting long term support.


Pain Point #3:
Long term recovery from sexual trauma (PTSD) can only be achieved with psychotherapy support. Because of shame,/denial/embarrassment, financial issues, and a lack of direction on how to open up, survivors are stuck living with psychological distress that will not subside, unless the proper care is taken.

Solution Part 3: Matching you with an affordable and licensed trauma therapists who are open to teletherapy.
The long term support Spero can guide the user to (acting as a transitioner), will be the key to recovery. We have a variety of trained individuals dedicated to helping trauma patients. There will be a $25 fee for each 60 minute session if you do not have insurance. If you do, we partner with most insurance plans, so you will still be paying a $25 copay for each session. The Spero recovery program will initially last for 4 months. If patients feel that they need more sessions, they are welcome to schedule those thereafter.


How will the patient interact with the therapist?
Reflection

Building this project was personally very challenging yet so rewarding- and I had to constantly examine how research and the product build out had to occur with the utmost care. At each step, I had to pause and check in with myself, my users, and my designs. Was I using design in a positive and powerful way to help this crisis, or were my designs not reflective of push forward for survivors? I felt a heavy mental weight throughout working on Spero.

The overarching challenge throughout this project was: how do I use design to help survivors of all genders, personalities, and ages in such a deeply flawed, and traumatized society? It was so difficult for many to wrap their heads around because sexual assault and its "survival" are taken for granted by many- all those who've never experienced it.

Because I attempted to tackle such a sensitive and complex topic, I had to be extremely careful in understanding every different type of user's viewpoint. In light of the recent political, racial, health crises, I had to be extremely careful of inclusivity- my choice of avatars, artwork, and words. Research was also affected by this. I couldn't put up a Google Survey on social media and get responses from that. That's a no no. So would lots of other research methods. I had to rely on close friends and friends of family.

A large part of the reason why I decided that a redesign was an absolute must was due to events that were surrounding us. Never more has there been a time where justice, equality, support for ALL types of downtrodden individuals- has been a priority in many minds. Sensitivity to inclusivity and accessibility was what I focused on in my redesign. I wanted Spero to resonate even more with its users.


Description

Travelog makes group travel less stressful. Those with a passion for travel can collaborate real time when planning for their trips and share pictures of their journeys with friends & family.


Timeline

Sep 2019 - Apr 2020


Role

Principle Product Designer
User Researcher


Goals

1. Make group travel more accessible to young/busy individuals.
2. Make travelers' experiences less stressful - by aiding them in destination discovery and attraction planning.
2. Improve communication between travel partner(s), so that travel experience will improve relationships.
3. Make traveling easy and memorable.


Description

Mentorlink connects new students @ USC with more senior students. Mentees will be matched with mentors through similarities in interests and personality.


Timeline

Feb 12 - 17, 2020


Role

Principle Product Designer
User Researcher
User Tester


Goals

1. Connect more experienced students and freshmen/transfer students at USC seamlessly and with ease.
2. Act as a the catalyst for a lasting, supportive, and nurturing relationship between mentor and mentee.
3. Make sure both parties are receiving positive results from the partnership.


DESCRIPTION

JobGet's improving the job seeking process for blue collar workers - those in the hourly workspace.


Timeline

August - October 2020


Role

Product Design Intern


Goals

1. Engage more users (active job seekers and non active job seekers) on the social platform.
2. Create an accessible community with learning resources.


DESCRIPTION

Led ideation, wireframing, and high fidelity iterations for Newegg's new Custom PC Builder service.


Timeline

July 2020


Role

UX/UI Design Intern


Goals

1. Engage more users (active job seekers and non active job seekers) on the social platform.
2. Create an accessible community with learning resources.
Click to interact with the Low-fi Prototype!
How does it feel? That's right. 5 of the users I tested mentioned this. "Rectangular buttons are a bit jarring." And here are some of findings following user testing! I learned so much from this part.


FIRST VERSION DESIGNS

I realized that the color scheme here was definitely not soothing nor relaxing after showing the prototype to others and I decided to alter the color scheme. Here's what users had to say:
"The orange and turquoise are a bit harsh on the eyes- especially on the login and signup pages."

"
I don't feel comforted when I look at the meditation courses I have to complete. The Green and red make it seem like a boring classroom assignment. I don't think that would motivate me to become more mindful."

"The Emotions Page seems a bit outdated- you know what I mean?
Like the graph for viewing your emotions is very harsh and too tall."



UI STYLE GUIDE
Pain Point #1a:
Male survivors of sexual assault also hope to recover and cope, but they feel that they may be antagonized by females, or by others who have misogyny misogynistic views.
.
Solution Part 1a: For male survivors, reject gender meshing for a more comfortable experience.
For male survivors like David, there is a different community and portrayal of values that would be comfortable for him.


“Male Image” by Jarom Vogel; “All other illustrations” by icons8

Click to interact with the Prototype!
Click to interact with the Final Prototype!


REFLECTION



I began baking seriously and practicing Food Photography when I turned 18. I had wanted to start a baking blog for sometime, but never had the guts to do so until after my first year of college. Since then, I've fallen in love with baking many times over, tested piles of recipes, and most importantly, I've grown as an artist. Here are some of my favorite shots. If you have any baking requests, please contact me!


A scope.

I completed Mentorlink for Google's 2020 UX Design Challenge, in 7 days. As the sole UX researcher and visual/interaction designer, I knew that my time management skills were on the line for this one. Basically, hustle or bust.

I chose prompt 2: Your school wants to strengthen the community by encouraging experienced students to connect with new students and help them adjust to campus life

"Design an experience that allows mentors and mentees to discover each other. Consider the needs of both mentors and mentees, including how someone may become a mentor and how to connect mentors to mentees."


Introduction

JobGet is changing how hourly workers find their next jobs. We have LinkedIn for white-collar workers to network, Indeed and Glassdoor for them to find jobs. But how about blue-collar workers? I joined the team in early August as a product design intern.

Introduction

This is project is under NDA. If you'd like access, email me. This page is still under construction 🛠. Bear with me here!
See project

Before I joined the team...

JobGet's been helping workers/employers in the hourly workspace find work quickly in a few different ways. Besides having a quick apply, no resume process, the platform also allows potential employees/employers chat with each other on demand. Applicants are notified if they were shortlisted within a few hours- a few days at most. How have they helped job seeking users outside of just applying for the job?


Other designers had already created a generic social feed for the platform- to create community amongst users (job seeker or not), to let each other know what worked and what didn't work for them in the job search.

But how might we engage more users and make learning resources more readily available for users?

This is one of the first projects I had the opportunity to contribute to. Basically, my job was to iterate on multiple features that would contribute to increased user engagement on JobGet's social feed.

Here's the original social feed: ‍



Research & Collaboration

Working closely with the PM and CTO.

‍‍

By making it easier to 1) create a post.



By having 2) better-curated feeds.


and the final design for the feeds:


By having 3) User Competitions - "Share Your Story."


in context:


By building 4) A more robust search function.





Takeaways... so far :)

JobGet has a super collaborative environment - I've never had an experience like this before. PMs, engineers, and designers are always on board with what's up and give great feedback on design options! Balance is the key. More projects to come soon!

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USC's role in all is?

USC does NOT have a centralized mentorship program between upperclassmen and new students.
Each school within the university has some sort of “career” mentoring program. USC Residential Housing Association currently doesn’t have a mentorship program.



In-depth research.

What are USC students’ current options for: Mentorship (professional, social, academics) & Finding a community amongst students? Well, there's the Trojan Career Network. My interviews later showed that this program was relatively unknown to new students (even more senior students). Most schools within USC had their own mentorship program - for professional networking and learning purposes.



Other prominent 3rd party mentoring apps include: Tribute. This is mostly for strengthening workplace relationships. There's also Mentorly. This one is mainly to connect with professionals in the creative and business fields. Both are paid servies and not really geared towards students.



Before I began my interviews, I had to really think about how this was really gonna work- realistically. The disparity occurs at how the mentors and mentees would find each other. What would be the best option? I set out to find out during my interviews.



Interviews

In the course of 2.5 days, I reached out to 15 people- upperclassmen, lowerclassmen, and transfers- through in-person interviews and conversations through social media. I wanted to hear their thoughts on the mentor/mentee process. I also sent out an online survey that collected 6 responses. 

Here are the questions I asked to gain insight on the mentor discovery & matching processes.  

Here are some really interesting insights to Q5: "How would you want to be matched with your mentee/mentor? What do you look for in a good mentee/mentor?"


Insights & Synthesis
‍‍

On how the mentor and mentee matching process should go to best aid both parties.

On Here are the main, identifiable users who would interact with this mentorship service.


Wireframing
‍‍

Some sketches and low fidelity wireframes. I took a day and a half for this part.


User Testing

I had 3 people use the rough prototypes (made in Adobe XD). I wish I had the time to get more insight, but I definitely learned a lot from this session!



The solution - Mentorlink

Mentees want direction. Mentors want to give back to the community. Both desire a supportive, nurturing relationship.

Pain Point #1:
Mentee concern: How will the mentors be qualified in their position to become a mentor? Will they be certified or attend a training program?
Solution Part 1:
Mentors will be required to attend a 1 week training program with USC staff and upon completion, will earn a certificate to be uploaded into their onboarding process.


1. Irene’s profile picture can be shown to all potential mentees.

2. The long biography will give potential mentees a glimpse of her personality and what kind of a person she is.

3. Hobbies, interests, academic strengths, and social strengths will be entered in “tag” form to avoid any generalization (placing people in a box).


Pain Point #2:
Both mentors and mentees' concern: How do I get matched with someone with "similar interests," to ensure that we click?
Solution Part 2:
When creating your mentor/mentee profile, you will be able to add your interests, hobbies, languages (inclusivity), personality, and social habits & strengths.

Pain Point #3:
Both mentors and mentees' concern: What is the best way to be matched with mentor/mentees? How to find them in the best way possible?
Solution Part 3:
Mentorlink has both a survey and filter options. A percentage match for the survey will account for different criteria such as personality & social habits. The match for mentor/mentee will then have a higher likelihood of being mutual and the relationship, a greater chance of working out and being mutually beneficial. Originally, there were differing views through my interviews of how to display potential mentor/mentee matches. A greater number of people preferred to see a small biography + a small profile picture that reveals some personality traits and hobbies.


For more precise, algorithmic mentor/mentee matching, the survey will narrow down your choices- so you don’t have to filter through everyone yourself.

1. Part 1: Social Activities Survey
2. Part 2: Personality Survey




Results from filter option.

Pain Point #4:
Mentee concern: We'll probably want help with more than just academics. Is it possible for need guidance for our social or professional prospects?
Solution Part 4:
Mentors and mentees can explore events to go to (together perhaps) that will help the latter integrate better into campus life. Events will change as  USC club partners (LavaLab, Code the Change, etc.),or recruiting companies (EY, Facebook, etc.) post campus events through Mentorlink.

Sort Upcoming Events:

1. Social
2. Academic
3. Professional

Clubs can work with MentorMe to have their events placed on the app.


Pain Point #5:
Mentor Concern: Since this program should benefit both mentors and mentees, potential mentors want to only sign up for the program knowing that they will be repaid in some way. Interviews demonstrated that many senior students don't want monetary compensation - how will we be appreciated? How will this program benefit us?
Solution Part 5:
Mentees will be reminded to send their mentors weekly words of kindness. After the pair begin their relationship through text or another messenger platform, mentees will have it in their mindset to complete acts of kindness for their mentors.


Messaging on the portal before transitioning to text/messenger will ease the bumpy transition between trying to get a feel for this person and deciding to develop a deeper mentorship relationship with them.



Don't forget to thank your mentor!



Pain Point #6:
Both mentors and mentees' concern: What if my mentor/mentee and I don't get along? How would I know if this is going to be a beneficial, nurturing, supportive relationship?
Solution Part 6:
We recommend you to meet with mentees at least 4 times before deciding that the relationship will not work out. For mentors, there is a feature to check the progress with your mentee. This will allow the mentor/mentee relationship to have a higher chance at succeeding- making sure mentees are receiving the guidance they need.


The issue

When travel planning becomes stressful and overwhelming, we don’t end up with an enjoyable travel experience. I want to make it easier for individuals to plan their ideal getaways and to minimize the friction of finding destinations/attractions where they would enjoy themselves. Processing my own personal frustrations and after talking to others, I observed a significant breach between the enjoyability of journey and the actual planning process.


Why is travel planning stressful?

Or in other words, what causes us NOT to have an enjoyable travel experience, when planning becomes stressful?

Young people love to travel but often complain of not experiencing "real culture." They're upset that they are unable to connect with the locals and go to places with less crowds. There are so many resources online, and in mobile application form- but nothing that caters to our personal travel interests. Give the user the best local artisan viennoserie bakery, or the most interesting thrift shop. Allow people to come together in travel to have an easy and relaxing time by not stressing about planning too much.





Who's affected?

Individuals without children (20 - 35 years of age) are likely to travel more frequently - they can be students or working professionals. Those who may have an inner passion for travel and exploring, may not get the opportunities to travel that much due to financial, student/work obligations - and therefore, less experience planning. Within those younger people who love traveling, there are different personality types - some receive meaning from their trips by spending time with locals, exploring local culture. Others may stick to themselves and explore different sights.




Kevin's frustrations...

His main pain points when planning a trip:

1. He's overwhelmed by the overload of travel information when performing a couple Google searches. He has out, just to name a few: Goole Maps, Expedia, Trip Advisor, Yelp, Reddit, Quora, Airbnb, etc. It kind of takes the joy out of planning, already.

2. He doesn't know where to go. He's on a budget and only has a few days to travel because of school.

3. It's his first trip with his partner. But tensions rise when they can't find a time to meet and discuss travel plans. They get slightly annoyed at each other for both being so indecisive.

4. By the time they decide on San Francisco, it's already too late to do any useful planning. He doesn't get to see the attractions he wanted to. His partner wanted to go to more touristy places, but he wanted to visit less well known attractions - to experience local culture.





What other travel apps are out there?

Observing the current market for travel planning tools, I noticed a common trend amongst the different mobile applications: Each of these revolved around these elements: city, accommodation, flight, or maps. They are catered towards a specific element of the planning process. There weren't any that targeted customized and collaborative planning. For example, here are some of the different travel related applications, categorized:



Understanding the user's thoughts...


How'd I get to our user journey and craft out his pain points? These interviews. Keeping this in mind, I interviewed 20 people to try to gauge what individuals want in their travel planning experiences and how they currently feel about travel planning. Below are some of the main points I received through interviews.

What I learned:
A majority of the survey participants noted that their trip planning process could potentially be improved. Many tend to use more than 3 resources (online, book format, etc.) when planning. They sought out their next travel destinations by way of social media & friends/family.



Insightful Excerpts




Crafting a solution

After identifying the main pain points users had when planning their trips, I began brainstorming possible ideas. The ideal product would ultimately: act as a customized search and planning engine that focuses on customized suggestions and collaborative planning.

Any traveler- whether they go on excursions frequently or only on the occasion, deserves to have a memorable experience - one where feel that they’re able to explore local culture and connect with those who he/she is traveling with. Planning and communication are huge factors in determining whether a trip is “successful” or not.



Low Fidelity & User Testing Round 1

Some sketches and low fidelity wireframe snapshots. I allowed users to test my low fidelity prototype and here are some of the critiques I received, highlighted.



First Version Designs


User Testing Round 2
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I thought I had finished the project- but there was so much that could be improved! I received A LOT of valuable feedback when presenting my project, so I decided to do another round of user testing and updated my final high fidelity designs. First, I gave 4 new individuals my old prototype and assigned them 2 tasks. Here is some more feedback that I received.


Some A/B Testing on new designs- all for better user experience!


Final User Flows
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Onboarding:

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Discovering travel destinations:

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Receiving inspiration from family & friends:

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Planning your trip:


THE SOLUTION - TRAVELOG

There are 2 main components to easing stressful travel planning and having an enjoyable experience: Customization and Collaboration.

Pain Point #1:
I don’t know where to travel next. I’ve saved up enough and finally have time, but I don't know which destination(s) would best make my experience memorable?

Solution Part 1: (Optional) Get travel inspiration from friends and family..
Interviews showed that people tended to rely on family, friends, and social media to decide where to go next. The social element to the solution would help influence the traveler to make a decision on where to travel to next. However, if Kevin is on the introverted side and not much a fan of social media, he can turn this feature off.


Pain Point #2:
There are too many attractions to choose from. Internet search results are rarely what I’m looking for. I only ever see a lot of big touristy places but I want the best mom and pop restaurant.

Solution Part 2a: Customized suggestions & search results in one place.
When onboarding, Kevin can choose up to 5 of his favorite travel activities. He can choose from more touristy attractions/cities or less-visited local gems. And enter what experiences he's looking for on excursions!




Solution Part 2a cont.
Then using AI, Travelog will be able to recommend him places (cities & countries), experiences, and attractions that are related to these activities, as a priority.



Solution Part 2b. Further customize your suggestions & search results, when planning a new trip.
When Kevin creates a new trip, he’ll be asked to input budget constraints, and to enter what experiences he wants to get out of the excursion (i.e. adventure, food, fun, etc.). This way, Travelog will know what to recommend him when he begins planning. Feel free to add collaborators here.



Solution Part 2b cont.
Now on his “Discovery page,” the attractions he wants to visit and experiences he would like to participate in will be further filtered to his previous inputs. Of course, you can search for places & attractions without having to create a new trip. You'll just get further customized suggestions for attractions, when you plan a new trip! Here, Kevin's interested in Paris's Petit Palais Museum.











Pain Point #3: It’s difficult to find times in our hectic schedules to actually sit down and plan everything.
We would be out of sync for planning on the internet or even another planning app like TripAdvisor, because we couldn’t make changes to our travel plans in real time.

Solution Part 3: Collaborate w/ your travel partners in real time, on one screen.
Kevin would be able to view what changes have been made to his Paris Travelog (time stamp page), and it’d notify him when his partner is on the screen at the exact same time as him. This way, you don’t have to be next to each other to plan what’s going on. It’s easier to be in sync.




Pain Point #4: We might not get to visit all the places we planned - that might stress us out more.
There's no way to prioritize what attractions we want to visit without getting out another app like Excel or Notion.

Solution Part 4: No worries, set it when you plan.
Set the priority of the attraction in your timestamp page.




USER SCENARIO MAPS

Using two of the very different user personas, I created multiple scenario maps for Travelog.



As you can see, Travelog caters to both more social individuals and those who are more careful about their media presences and prefer to keep to themselves.




Reflection

As a second personal project, I learned that there are definitely still many aspects of Travelog that can be improved.

Placing my mind into the minds of ALL possible users really taught me a lot in terms of good design choices and features that need to be created. A large takeaway from this experience is that I can't assume anything specific about a user's needs or past experiences, yet I should be broad in terms of the features of the actual product to cater to different user archetypes. Every little detail in the prototypes and mock ups matter greatly to the user and I should always be taking that into account.

Looking forward, I would encourage the use of Travelog in my own and fellow users' travels. With more information gathered from first hand experiences, features can be altered and improved based on real time feedback during the travel process and not just through interviews and surveys. Additionally, researching the specific needs/frustrations of the targeted user group would help further refine Travelog's features.

I learned so much following the culmination of one of my first ever personal project. This piece was very special and personal to myself- as a sufferer of mental health problems and an advocate to spread awareness to break down the stigmas those issues.

Trust me, there is no "easy way" to cure mental illnesses. As a designer, I definitely don't think we are capable of doing that alone. But the one thing we can do for sure as a supportive, inclusive community is to help others and most importantly, ourselves in taking care of the mind. We spend an unimaginable amount of time in that little space that it's worth the effort to make it a nice place to be. And while we can't cure any of these little devils with just a single app, with just journaling, it is imperative that we have an affordable resource that actually helps improve cognition. Something is better than nothing.

Because the subject of this project was so sensitive and deeply complex, I would have liked to complete more research to test- more holistically what the users need and want. For each individual, this varies so greatly. Talking to as many people as I can about their opinions on this issue- lack of effective, affordable resources- would be so helpful.

Other projects: 

Like something you see? I'm happy to chat 🥳! I'm currently interested in Winter & Summer 2021 internships.
Come say hello at: hoemily@usc.edu

Copyright © Emily Ho 2020, Made with lots of garlic 🧄