To inspire powerful connection

and growth

ORCAS | Mentorship Platform

ORCAS

ORCAS is an online platform for UX beginners to foster meaningful mentorship and support in their journey.

The platform is specifically designed for the Master of Human-Computer Interaction + Design program at the University of Washington and recognized by the program advisor for great praise.

MY ROLE

UX UI Designer

MY TASK

Qualitative Research

Ideation

Wireframming

High Fid-prototype

TEAM

Dongming Liu - UXR

Tsahao Yu - UXD

TIME FRAME

6 Weeks, Spring 2022

RESEARCH + FINDINGS

UX Practitioners in the MHCI+D Program

Due to the project's time constraints, we conducted 8 user interviews, including 6 students from 2 Master's programs, to understand their journey and how they pivot to the UX Industry. We also interviewed 2 Subject Matter Experts to get a high-level perspective. We discovered there are a lot of common concerns and needs that UX practitioners hope to mitigate by finding someone to resonate with their career change journey. To cope with this, mentorship was found to be a vastly beneficial experience.

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Looking at the MHCI+D program, the current mentoring system is very heavy-loaded for both advisors, alumni, and students. Most of the work has been done manually. We set our goal to alleviate some of that burden to help create delightful, personalized, and coequal relationships for both mentor and mentee to grow efficiently together. 

Design Goal

Reduce the burden on the MHCI+D advisor, and help students get continuous support from alumni who can sympathize with the same experience.

How to Find the Right Mentor?  

Looking into the process of how mentorships work and what UX people consider to be meaningful, I came up with this interaction chart that is based on our research insight of what's essential in forming the right mentor and mentee, especially for career changers who need support and guidance. 

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Solution

Introducing a mentorship platform suitable to the MHCI+D program so that both advisors, students, and alumni feel less overwhelmed.

Prototype + Usability Studies

I conducted user testing with the program's advisors and 5 students to review the concept and test our system logic and interaction in both the wireframe and prototyping stages. From this user testing, I extracted findings of where and when the failure happened in the designs for improvement. 

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Comment on Setup:

Instead of only looking at the professional background, I want to know more about who they are.

Solution:

Giving the option to fill in personal interests to start a unique mentorship.

Comment on Explore

While exploring, the most common question is who is the best fit for me? 

Solution:

We added the compatible percentage on profiles to show how matchable you are based on location, interests, and more.

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Comment on Profile

There is a lot of potential in visualizing the experiences and building the community. There is a lot of information out of the lines.

Solution:

We added the timeline on user's profile which people can comment on and like.

Comment on Message

While messaging, it's normal to have to make notes on future things to do.

Solution:

We added memo features next to the messaging platform as a reminder.

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Final Design- Core Feature

Automatic - Onboarding

Our website experience starts when the users begins to fill out their professional & personal information.

Instead of doing them manually, users can upload their resume or sign up with their LinkedIn to speed up the setup process.

Set Up

Finding The Best Fit

ORCAS encourages users to fill out their future goals, top concern, and personal interests in the system that helps them to find mentors who resonate with the same aspect.

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Exploration

Meeting Your Mentor

Based on your inputs, ORCAS will analyze your profile and provide you with a percentage number to suggest how suitable each mentor is for you based on your location, interests, and more. Students can click into mentors' profiles and understand them better before matching. 

Our study shows that mentorships are more engaged when the connections are built by themselves.

The Journey Map

The Experience that You Share with Others

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Building UX skills is a gradual, long-term journey of years. This journey map on your profile uses the time at MHCI+D as an anchor point with experience before and after to help students zoom out and understand each person's growing path visually over time.

Activities and Communication

Maintaining the Connection

Your notes, monthly goals, and messages are all integrated into one place. To encourage more conversation, ORCAS provides prompts to keep the conversation going. 

Users could also check the mentor's availability without any back and forth confirmation.

Motivation

Achievement!

Based on the goals they have achieved every month, the award will be shown on their profiles for the community to acknowledge their hard work.

Award can be displayed on the profile to show truth worthiness and commitment to the community.

It motivates mentors on knowing both the mentee and ORCAS are grateful for their contribution.


For the Advisors

A Simple Dashboard of Progress

ORCAS also has a unique advisor dashboard for them to create channel groups, send out announcements, and see the satisfaction rate.

This allows the advisors to quickly understand how students feel about their mentorship and assist them when they encounter any problems.

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Takeaway

Going through this whole process, I found user research insight in the design stage helpful in fixing the problems from the original concept. It wasn't until I tested our initial prototype with our users to find out the interaction and flow felt quirky on the website and on the matching features. There were some surprising moments during the project when we have to change something quite fundamental at a later stage, but it also made me remember to not resort from the very start to common ways of UX in future projects. 

Next Step

Introduce ORCAS to More Organizations

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Knowing how mentorships are helpful for UX beginners, ORCAS can be implemented by other school programs or companies outside of the University of Washington. ORCAS can help to lower the barrier of running their mentorship programs to assist individuals in their journeys. 

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2022 Eric Chen - Images and content may not be used without written permission. All rights reserved.®