Degree pal

spring/2022

 UX Research  |  UI + UX Design  |  Design System  |  Design Strategy

Frame 4 (1).png

Degree Pal is a mobile application that helps students find their best-fit education programs
by providing a fast and accurate program-searching interface,
thus facilitating their research process and minimizing their stress.

 

about

I created this personal project while completing my Google UX Design Certificate on Coursera. I designed a mobile application that helps students find and research their best-fit educational program in this project.

duration

2 Months

scope

Concept Ideation

Problem Framing

User Research

Low & High Fidelity Prototypes

Design System

Usability Testing

Design Thinking

context

Students dream about being accepted by their dream school, but they don't always apply for schools effortlessly. The application process is tedious and time-consuming, while there are other important tasks on the side, such as preparing for exams and keeping up with school or work life. On the other hand, the market for international students has grown dramatically throughout this decade. For international students, admission information can become harder to acquire, while there are language exams and student visas to worry about simultaneously.

 
 

the challenge

1.

          Understand users' priorities when selecting college programs:

What aspects do users take into consideration when they select a college program?

How can I make it easier for users to accurately find the programs with the qualities they need?

2.

           Find out users' top needs when applying for a program:
 

What is the most important information the users need when applying for a program?

How can I make that information easier for users to find and re-visit?

           Design an easy-to-use mobile application that helps students research and select college programs:

3.

How can I design an overall pleasing user experience for the users that achieves my goals?

understand the user

                                                      from my survey(16 participants)

quantitative data

87.5%

of students think it's hard to find, organize, and compare information through researching on the university websites.

93.7%

of students feel stressed and uncertain
when researching admission information online.

                                                 from my moderated testing session(4 participants)

qualitative data

Methodology: Participants were asked to perform tasks on university websites

Task 1
Find the Master of Computer Science Program page

75%
completed

12 min
Avg. time spent

5
Avg. tab opened

Task 2
Find the GPA requirement to apply to a program

100%
completed

8 min
Avg. time spent

7
Avg. tab opened

Task 3
Find the tuition fee for a program

75%
completed

11 min
Avg. time spent

6
Avg. tab opened

Task 4
Find the language exam requirement for international students

50%
completed

14 min
Avg. time spent

8
Avg. tab opened

 

research methods:

online Survey

user testing

market
research

prototype usability testing

user pain points

Key findings

Time-consuming to gather

useful information.

1.

Pain point

Get lost and spend too much time searching on the University websites.

Users goal

I can easily find all the useful information I need to apply.

Hard to effectively compare the information acquired.

2.

Forget about the information after moving on to another one, thus hard to make comprehensive decisions.

I can save useful information, revisit it later, and be able to compare or arrange the programs.

 

research questions

1. How long does it take for a user to find the key program the information they need?


2. Are users able to accurately find the programs they want?


3. Are there any parts of the searching process that users feel are unintuitive?


4. What does the user feel about the key information provided in this app?

usability study

participants

5 Participants
(2 female, 2 male, 1 nonbinary)


Participants are college students and employed workers who need to apply for a college program.
 

methodology

Time: 15 - 25 minutes


Location: the United States, remote


Date: 02.25.2022 - 02.26.2022


Type: Moderated usability study


Process: Users were asked to perform tasks on a low-fidelity prototype from different prompts.

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Theme 1.

          Users want a simple and accurate way to search for programs.

- 4 out of 5 participants expressed confusion
about the multiple degree searching
functions on the homepage.


- 2 out of 5 participants mentioned that they
don’t like the current location search page.

JG: “Not sure if this search bar is for school name
or location, hmmm."

Home Page - 1.png
Home Page - 2.png

Theme 2.

          Users want the important application information to be prioritized.

- 3 out of 5 participants questioned the
location and completeness of important
program information.

TH: "These(application deadlines) are at the bottom? The dates are so important, and if you miss them, it's over!"

Admissions- 6.png
Admissions- 6.png

Theme 3.

          Users need more ways of sorting and filtering based on their needs.

- 2 out of 5 participants think the sorting and
filtering of the program can be improved.

JM: "Other than school ranking, I wish there's
program ranking, which is the most important."

Sort By - 3.png
 

Design decision 1:

Make the searching experience fast and straightforward.

- Since the users' priority goal is to save time on the research process, I decided to simplify the app structure. I want to make sure that users can find the information they want with the fewest clicks needed. 

- I also redesigned the home page after getting feedback from the usability testing sessions, in which users expressed their confusion with the multiple search function.

Home Page - 1.png
Home Page - 3.png
Home Page - 1 (1).png

Design decision 2:

Make information with higher priority more visible.

- Through my user research, I learned about the priorities that people tend to look into while considering a program. I have re-arranged the order by their importance to the users.

Admissions- 6.png
Admissions.png

- I decided to place certain information that users take into consideration when selecting a college program on the search result page to help users to compare and contrast without clicking on each page.

Search Page.png
My Favorite Programs.png
Filter.png

Design decision 3:

Improve the category and sorting interface for users to easily target search results.

- I received feedback from users questioning the "search by location" pop-up window where users would need to type in results. To increase efficiency, I changed all pages into select windows.  and improved the sorting function so the users and easily target programs they wanted.

Home Page - 2.png
Location.png
Area of Study.png
Program Type.png

- I improved the sorting function so the users and easily target the programs they want in as detail as possible.

Sort By - 3.png
Filter.png
 
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Style Guide

Alongside the finished interface designs, I created a style guide documenting all elements to keep the designs as consistent and re-usable as possible. 

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reflection

1. creating & updating objectives

There is always a trade-off when making decisions. Sometimes, it can be hard to decide without looking at the bigger picture, or without a plan. I decided to follow along with every objective I wanted to achieve derived from my user research and usability study. For example, I believe the user goal is more important, so I decided to prioritize their need and simplify the searching process instead of adding more information and complexity. I learned that it is always important to list down the main objectives when working on a large design project, constantly updating it based on research and user feedback, and to check off the list when overviewing the project at the end.

2. importance of feedback

In this project, user feedback has helped me with decision-making tremendously. From the early user research to the low fidelity prototype testing, I have realized how much I could have missed if not listened to them, despite trying to think as comprehensively as possible. To avoid designing tunnel-visioned, always find people to test on since the early stages, and make design decisions based on users' pain points and needs, instead of out of imagination