GetExp - Educational WebApp

Context

This was a university project. The main goal was to learn the full design flow and perform it from A to Z once in our lifetime.

Problem

Students express their desire for practical hands-on experiences in addition to theoretical classes within the context of their education. They seek opportunities to engage in practical exercises that go beyond typical textbook assignments.

A shared aspiration among these students is their intention to cultivate their learning through practical application, as it enables them to seamlessly transition into the competitive job market. They place great value on tackling authentic challenges that align with those encountered in their future professional endeavors.

My role: UX Designer cooperating with a team of 4 other designers

Task: Create a low budget educational solution for high school and/or university students.

 

Solution

For students who want to broaden their practical knowledge, but do not know where to look for interesting projects, or do not know where to find people for their projects, we will create a responsive web platform which aggregates project ideas announcements, people interested in taking part in a project and experts that are willing to help with gaining a real life experience.

Research

We began with thorough desk research, exploring official statistics, Facebook groups, and Twitter trends to identify student challenges and learning preferences.

After that, we already knew we wanted to support them in gaining practical knowledge.

The most important questions we wanted to get answered during interviews with 10 students were:

  • To what extent are students in STEM fields interested in augmenting their theoretical knowledge with practical skills?
  • What are the most effective methods of learning (materials, types of classes)?
  • Under what conditions do students study (learning environment, limitations)?
  • With whom do students most frequently confront their knowledge, and do they share knowledge, and if so, how?
  • Where do students seek support in applying theoretical knowledge in practical settings?
  • What is the attitude of students towards project-based learning?
  • What technological solutions do students use for learning?
  • What barriers and motivations do students have for practical learning and knowledge sharing?

Most Surprising Outcome

Students aim to minimize their use of smartphones during their studies. They are aware of how easily smartphones can be distracting, so they set them aside and strive to focus on their learning.

The learning style of modern students is surprisingly analog. They rely on their own notes, engage in face-to-face interactions at the university, and do not heavily rely on dedicated learning applications. They primarily communicate through Messenger, despite the abundance of other communication tools available. They even manage projects on Facebook because it provides “all the necessary tools” for that purpose.

Personas

Based on research, we have created 2 personas.

Asia

Smart, ambitious but too shy to start her own project and find people and funds to keep it going. She is very willing to join other’s projects though. She does not want to work in projects with people who are not equally engaged.

Goal: Gain practical knowledge thanks to group projects

 

Jacek

lively, ambitious student who has many ideas for projects and would like to lead them all. The problem is: leading a project is a great responsibility with many challenges on the way. One of the biggest challenges is to find proper people for the job.

Goal: Gain experience and build portfolio

 

While creating a persona for university purposes was fun and interesting, in my real work life I have serious doubts as it comes to the real usability of this tool.


Knowing your users is crucial, but putting them into 2-3 completely separate boxes most often seems impossible.

Ideation

We again used a rich variety of tools. Among other were:

  • Business Model Canvas,
  • Value Proposition Canvas,
  • User Journey Mapping,
  • User Scenarios,
  • User Story Mapping.

This resulted in a clear vision of the product shared among all team members. We also established our competition, business model, development directions and KPIs for the project.

Experience Journey Map

Modeling

The next crucial phase involved aligning our understanding of specific solutions and the overarching product vision.

During the modeling stage, we focused on refining the final Minimum Viable Product (MVP). We dedicated our efforts to crafting numerous paper wireframes and wireflows, complemented by highly effective Design Studio workshops.

The Design Studio method and the creation of successive iterations of wireflows clearly demonstrated that our overall vision was highly cohesive. However, we significantly diverged in the details, and it was at this stage that we managed to align them. This taught to pay close attention and challenge assumptions as hard as possible.

Fast paper prototyping turned out to be the greatest tool of all design tools that I use in everyday work in almost all my projects. There is literally nothing more effective to quickly ideate with clients.

Prototyping & Testing

Throughout the prototyping phase of our university studies, we acquired valuable skills in leveraging industry-standard tools such as Sketch and Axure. These tools enabled us to create seamless and interactive user experiences.

With the culmination of our efforts, we successfully developed a mid-fidelity Axure prototype for our project, showcasing the functionality and flow of our design solution.

Asia who wants to join an interesting project, can browse existing projects and choose the right one.
 The project is finished. Asia can confirm Jacek’s competence and write a comment about his leading skills.

Testing & Iterating

We carefully selected a group of 10 students who closely matched our project personas, and evaluated both the mobile and desktop versions of the prototype.

Following the testing sessions, we meticulously analyzed the findings and derived actionable conclusions. We swiftly implemented necessary changes to address critical and significant issues identified during the testing phase.

Our testers expressed genuine enthusiasm for the potential market entry of this solution, recognizing its ability to facilitate learning and skill development. They found the prototype to be intuitively designed, user-friendly, highly useful, and easily comprehensible.

Click through the prototype

What's next?

The last leg of our journey is the grand finale – the big presentation. Our main task is to “wow” the investors and make them believe that our project is a total game-changer that needs to be brought to life and shared with the world.

While this may have started as a university project, the amount of in-depth research, brainstorming, strategic planning, modeling, prototyping, and meticulous testing, all under the guidance of our amazing mentors, makes me truly believe that GetExp! has the potential to make waves in the Polish market. It can be a game-changer for students looking to expand their knowledge, but…

Since the investors in this case were just part of the simulation and this wasn’t a real startup planning team, I’ll be harnessing all the knowledge and experience gained during this course to fully embrace my role as a UX Designer and contribute to making the world a better place through my future endeavors.

Takeaways

It is not every day that you have an occasion to perform the FULL design process and cooperate with great specialists and mentors who are willing to help on every step of the way.

Will I ever have an occasion to follow such meticulous design flow? Probably not. But this project stays significant to me, and I like to go back to it while working on REAL projects to reuse tiny bits here and there. 

Besides structuring my usability and product design knowledge, this project also taught me the importance of constant communication and challenging project assumptions. Especially that each team member can have entirely different ones and not even know about that.

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