A social networking based platform allowing students to connect and collaborate on an inclusive and encouraging platform
The Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business is a satellite campus under the University of Waterloo. Many students have classes at this distinct location and sometimes have to alternate between campuses throughout their undergraduate journey. Although the campus is full of valuable resources and amenities there is a feeling of isolation from the university spirit that can be found on the main campus. Having school spirit can positively impact morale and in some cases performance. It is a dynamic, in this case, that celebrates the accomplishments and uniqueness of the Stratford campus. Due to this, the sense of feeling connected to one another within the campus remains low and a lack of school spirit remains prevalent.
The goal of this project goal is to connect fellow students with each other based on skills, expertise, and or interests. We want to design a way for students to be able to find people who can help and teach each other valuable skills for any projects. Share knowledge and learn about other topics they are interested in. Even develop mutual relationships/ partnerships too.
How might we increase the amount of school spirit and build stronger cohort relations on the Stratford campus?
With the duration of this project, I adopted a design thinking process
Due to the project’s timeline being short, usability testing was not able to be conducted
To gain a better understanding on student’s opinions in relation to our study, we asked qualifiable questions and conducted a series of user interviews on staff, faculty, and primarily students within the Stratford campus
I interviewed 10 students age’s 18-21 and the questions mainly pertained to reveal how they felt about the level of spirit and connectivity on the Stratford campus. The interview was semi-structured and all questions remained open-ended to allow for extended thoughts and details
After conducting interviews, I discovered that the average user preferred effort being put more towards building community which would also essentially bring school spirit along due to the built of stronger relations with others
“I am not involved within the campus because there are very limited options to get involved with, however I would love to get myself out there if there was a way to connect with others and gain help with my work and projects” - A student interview
Though analyzing user data from conducted interviews and surveys, forming our user persona, experience map and constructing ideation, we discovered that the collaboration and innovation which takes place in the Stratford campus is an opportunity to build a stronger community. Spirit does not necessarily emerge from having “fun”, but however it remains a sense of pride, showing off accomplishments and being immersed in a unique environment to help others and thrive
Hence, our solution became to curate a digital platform which encourages the sharing and collaboration of similar and unique talents and interests as an effective method to build community spirit amongst the Stratford campus
To gain a clearer picture in my head on the layout of our application, I created a rough mind map to connect the site's information architecture to its visual design by showing the relevant paths between pages
Our first conceptual iteration comprised of a “Tinder-like” app for technical skills and creative interest
Users are able to swipe through profiles and match with whoever’s profile they like - whether it be a fellow student or find tutors. User is also able to provide ratings to fellow peers on their artwork and published posts
I conducted failure/problem brainstorm to understand failing possibilities on our first iteration
I developed some wireframes prior to designing the app to understand the structural baseline and visually show the laid out elements and its positions
The app's initial log in and setup process streamlines the user experience to fit users' interests, providing them flexible options to choose from
The discovery page allows unique collaboration between users through posts and updates. These sections bring users closer into discovering new ideas, gaining inspiration and keeping up with user's stories
Users are able to connect with each-other through a simple but effective messaging section. This is useful for users to collaborate, build relations and find a connection between their profile interests with one another
Some of the challenges we encountered were completing all aspects of this project in a short time span, as the app did not get designed a high quality within two months. Another challenge was also the collaboration as a team effort to combine all of our ideas into one feasible solution
The next steps for ConnectU would be to refine the app by continuous iterating, conducting user-testing, and design it on various platforms. I would like this app to expand the horizons of being committed to only Faculty program students onto broaden reach to the entire university and further beyond. While this concept would require further and thorough research and development, it is a potential possibility for the future of ConnectU