Finding community in college
Greet - Mobile app design / UX / design methods
Research, Storyboarding, Wireframing, Prototyping, Visual Design, Filming
How can we help incoming college students build personal connections and better adjust to college life?
A phone based application that helps students discover and connect to like-minded peers. Suggesting matches based on events, class schedules and interests.
Feel free to check out our complete project report →
📄 Problem Statement
The transition to college is difficult. At varying degrees, incoming students find it difficult to adjust to college life for a number of reasons. Pressures such as making new friends and paying for college can lead to poor academic performance and feelings of stress and loneliness, all of which create a negative college experience. Many college students face mental health problems due to factors such as those mentioned; among those students affected, freshmen in transition are highly influenced by them. Factors specific to freshmen such as adjusting to unfamiliar environments, navigating new relationships, performing at a higher academic level and facing homesickness, can all lead to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and stress. For our specific project, we will choose to focus on interpersonal relationships as our cause to this issue, as it is not feasible to tackle all of the factors contributing to mental health.
Existing solutions at UW
UW tries to foster student relations with various tools and programs such as First Year Interests groups (FIGS), Dawg Daze events, and the Schools app, but all fail to provide a long lasting foundation that encourages students to develop a bond that lasts more than a quarter.
We interviewed 10 UW students to get more insights about how people find their connections in college. These are some of our key questions:
- What have been the best ways to meet new people on campus
- Why do you use that method to meet up with new people?
- What are the most difficult factors for making new friends?
From our interview, we learnt that people usually meet new people through student organizations, clubs and events. They preferred this method because it felt casual and people they met in this setting often share similar interests or experiences.
However, most students still mentioned that it is hard to find people who share similar interest. It is also difficult to maintain a close connection with people they met since people usually have complicated time availabilities.
As stated above, a lack of community on campus contributes greatly to poor mental health. Building strong bonds and interpersonal connections is critical for students, especially those undergoing transitions as a freshman or transfer student.
Through interview, we were able to understand the major sources of community that current students have found to give them a sense of belonging. Our product aims to cultivate those types of interactions among students who are unable to form the connections themselves due to reasons such as lack of availability to attend these spaces and difficulties in searching for common talking topics to break the ice.
After synthesizing our research findings and brainstorming potential ways to address the problem, we settled down with the solution — mobile app that allows users to connect with others looking for friendship. We match users based on their interests, events they want to go to, and also their schedules.
We decided to create a mobile app since it is the interface our target audience interact with for communication on a daily basis. An app will allow users to be able to contact each other fairly easily.
Rather than simply depending on matching profiles like Tinder and Bumble, we wanted to incorporate activities and class schedules to better fit our target demographic of college students. From our user research, we found that students mainly made friends through clubs and classes; this allows us to better match students who share activities that they are interested in and makes it easier to meet up with each other. Even if students may not have a lot of similar interests, they are still able to meet up with others who take similar classes and can meet up to study together.
🧐 User Test
Now in the final stages of our design, we gathered empirical evidence so we can better understand the quality and utility of our design thus far. We did this through conducting interviews with stakeholders and user testing of our app’s prototype.
We did user testing with three UW students using our high fidelity prototype and watched our participants complete a list of tasks that were given to them.
- Find the posts from other users
- Find suggested restaurants or events
- Updating your user profile
- Creating an event to post yourself
Throughout the testing, we asked the tester to voice out their thoughts as they completed the task so that we could better understand what a potential user may be thinking as they navigate the app. Throughout the testing session, we were paying attention to what the user taps, what they didn’t tap, and designs decisions/tabs of the app that they may not be sure of what to do.
User Testing Takeaways
One feedback we received was to add the ability to see mutual friends attending events, similar to Facebook’s model. Knowing another student attending an event would increase safety. The feedback for the above frustrations will help us to remove confusion and refine our app to be more intuitive.
In all, our user testing verified our designs and provided points to continue iterating during future development.
Interview Key Takeaways
A few interviewers are concerned about keeping people engaged. To combat this, we will create “greet bundles”. These will be a group of events that you could sign up for, with a couple of events that are part of a series, and a couple one-off events. This would allow students to interact multiple times with the same people, and would help students get over the initial awkward stage of forming friendships.
Another concern brought up is that the app could have a social stigma of being uncool and make students feel shame for being unable to make friends themselves. Since we plan on partnering through UW and introducing the app when students are first getting involved with UW, we aim for the app to have a similar effect as the School’s app where students used it because all of their friends also used it and because it was one of their first connections to UW.
My teammates are amazing and I feel so grateful to get to know them and work with them! Our work won the best project for the class and has been used as a demo project since :)
I learned a lot about design methods and techniques for effectively getting user feedbacks. If we were to continue working on this project, I think it is important to place more focus on helping students maintain the friendship they built.
Thanks for scrolling 🙌