How a digital assistant can
make college life easier.
Concept: For my thesis project at undergraduate school, I designed a mobile assistant for students in my college to help them with their daily campus life.
Challenge: How to meet the unique needs of users in my college? How can it work together with current campus department settings?
Duration: March 2017 - May 2017
Living on campus in my undergraduate school for four years, I found that students and teachers always complain about the complex procedures about trivial things, such as refilling student card, booking a room in the library or requesting an official transcript. In term of this, I decided to find a solution for a more convenient campus life in Communication University of China.
Overall Design Process
Questionnaire & Analysis
At first, I wanted to understand how people used, reacted to and thought about current campus service system.
How does the current system work?
Which part is tough when they are using current system?
What expectations do they have?
I made questionnaires and got valid results from 191 people in the college.
Among the questions, 57.1% of them thought there were some problems needed to be fixed in current campus service system. And 25.3% said they often found it difficult to complete their tasks.
It also showed that the top3 needed functions are:
online ID card system,
online Campus news.
After questionnaires, I did some user interviews and made personas according to what I've got.
By analyzing and summarizing interviews into personas, I was able to demonstrate the unique needs from various groups of students in Communication University of China. So that I could understand their behaviors, user scenarios, as well as their expectations. These four personas represent students of different academic levels, as well as in typical roles during campus life.
From personas, I made a summary of 3 levels of users' demands:
1. Basic demands
Complete tasks on mobile platform without time or space constraints
Include basic campus services
Check task status at any times
Clear instructions and logical task flow
2. Exciting demands
Lower learning cost
Unique aesthetic style that reflects the features of CUC
3. Expecting demands
I analyzed apps from other colleges and third developers that have similar functions, focusing on interaction framework and interface design. Each of these apps has multiple functions towards different user groups. And each has its strengths and weaknesses. However, I found that the most frequent problem is there is too much information appearing on one screen, which makes it hard for the user to handle.
Current College Service System
From the analysis of current systems, they have adequate functions and services that cover all the aspect of campus life.
However, there are several disadvantages:
Not accessible across different platforms (local office, website or mobile phone)
Time and space constraints
Separate services & functions due to different departments
Various design style
After research and analysis, I designed the function structures of the new service system.
I chose four main tasks as examples to design user flows.
After the first version, I took some user tests. The testing showed that users were confused by the sliding between two main pages.
So that I iterated the home page and main menu design by adding three tabs on the top of the interface, in order to provide clear signifiers, as well as to contain important information as much as possible within one page.
Visual Design & High Fidelity Prototype
The overall aesthetics of CUC Helper is based on three insights: the temperament of the college, the preference of students, and current mobile design trends.
Since most programs in my college are in the area of art, drama, journalism, and literacy, the students there are more sensitive to visual elements. Meanwhile, compared with students majored in science and engineer, they have more passion about extracurricular activities. Therefore, I created the visual style with a sense of youth, artistry, and passion.