UX 2019 Group 7 journal
For our group design project we as a group have chosen to the Student 2 Student option. In this project we are required provide an interactive and engaging experience for students that will assist both their individual and collective. We thought this option would be best for us as we are students and that we can relate to this option a lot. Along with this we know fellow students and have easy access for researching purposes. With a bit of research in to the topic we then went on to conduct interviews to gather research for our prototype. On our first point of research we discovered that students were struggling to make friends as they joined university and these students were mainly freshers. So as a group we then went on to conduct our interviews to gain further background information and knowledge. In our research process we decided to do 3 interviews and each of us would find one student to interview each. For these interviews we decided that we would not take details or names of the interviewees so we would not have to worry about any data confidentiality.
For the interview we designed these questions so that we could gain the right information and see the requirements that our app would need:
Are you currently a student at UWE?
If so, what current year are you studying in?
Do you engage in many social events at Uni? (e.g Clubbing, societies, sporting events…)
When starting university did you find it hard to make friends?
If yes, why do you think this was so?
Do you think there could be an easier way to make friends with other students at university?
Would you be interested in an app that allows students to find friends based on similar interests?
Follow the link to see FULL interview transcripts: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10ehhku0rvdQbQf33Y6B3X4bxXcBkRy2Oq9xbOmvKyh0/edit?usp=sharing 
From these 3 interviews we thought that the following points were the most important to aid us in designing the app:
-People struggle to make friends from first encounters in uni
-Some people were not compatible with their own flat mates
-Students had to go on nights out to make friends
-Students had to join societies to make friends
-Students were interested in our idea for the app
-People liked the idea of being able to a friend(s) with the same interests as them by just using their phone
Once we decided what questions to ask, we interviewed a small group of students from UWE in order to gather some understanding of how our app should be designed and what it can do for the students. The results we got back were as expected and meant that our design process could continue.
The first thing we found when interviewing people was that every student, we asked mentioned how difficult they found it to start university and make friends. The main reason being that meeting new people on your own can be hard. They also talked about how the first initial idea to make friends is by joining a society. This shows that students look for friends with similar interests and relates perfectly back to our design proposal.
Secondly, several students we asked mentioned their flatmates and how getting put into a flat with students doesn’t always mean you’ll be friends with them. In fact, quite a lot of the time, students are paired with flatmates that have completely different interests to them. So, when we asked whether they would “be interested in an app which allows students to interact with other students who have similar interests and abilities”, they had a really positive response towards it, mentioning how it would be very successful for people just starting university and it might take the pressure away from the ‘making friends’ stage of freshers.
The answers we gathered from the Interviews have allowed us to use what the students think and start prototyping an actual product. Taking into consideration the points they made and thinking about how we can design an app to be widely used by students and also have an easy to use interface.
Existing Application Research
To gain a better perspective in what we need to do we then went on to do some secondary research in to similar apps and some apps that have similar features to what we want to implement. For this we have chosen to research in to Twiducate, LinkedIn, Stunited and Facebook. In a search across the internet we were unable to find a social media platform that was same to what we would like to implement in to the UWE campus so we analysed these which students used and then Facebook because we think that our app would have sort of a newsfeed, a messenger system and a profile with a few additional features.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a social networking website that allows users to organize employment and educational information on a resume-like page, then share with potential contacts in the job world. Teens 14 and up (13 and up in many other countries) sign up with an email and password, and list relevant career information, including education history, job experience, hobbies, organization membership, and the like.
We have chosen to research this social network as it has similar features to what we want to use and it has a mobile version. The application has a profile page, a feed, messaging system and a search plus others but these are the things that we want to include in our application. The profile page is great as it shows the right amount of information for each user. The app was very responsive with no bugs.
The mobile application is very easy to use and it is aesthetically pleasing. The layout of the application makes it simple to navigate around find all the features on the app. It has a simple colour pallet.
Stunited: Stunited is an app which bridges socialising and academics. It allows students to match other students based on their social and educational interests. Once matched, students can then go on to messaging and arranging times to socialize. This is an excellent app for students just starting university who are looking to make friends or struggle with meeting new people.
We found the stunited website to be a bit cluttered and messy. Once you enter the website there are 4 different routes you can choose from which makes things confusing. There is no one general homepage or profile page. Each page is over cluttered. The whole website is also difficult to navigate around and easy to get lost.
The aesthetics of the website is ok. The logo is blurry and the website overall does not look as sharp and clean as it could be. They have used a very similar colour pallet to linkedin and facebook.
Facebook: The world's most popular social networking web site, Facebook enables users to connect with friends and family by sharing status updates, personal photos, events and other items of interest.
The facebook mobile app is probably one of the best social media apps. It runs the smoothest, looks good and very easy to use and find features. Each page is mostly user driven with the content on it like our app will be. It has very simple messaging system which runs smoothly. The profile page is something similar to what we would like but just showing some different content and features.
The aesthetics are very good. Very clean and modern with regular updated looks. Good colour pallet with blue and white and then black text.
We started off researching interaction design and came across an article which talks about the “Building Blocks of Visual Design”. This article covers the elements of visual design: line, shape, negative/white space, volume, value, colour and texture, also discussing up on how “different elements can and should go together to create the best results”. This article will be good to follow since we can use the elements to start to shape our prototype design.
In addition to this, we also found a book called ‘Killer UX Design’, which covers all aspects of UX. Chapter 1, ‘You are not the user’, breaks up the overall experience for a user into 5 factors: usefulness, usability, learnability, aesthetics and emotions. This could be good to follow since it goes nicely with the previous article and covers the user side of creating a prototype, whereas the article covers the design aspect.
Our application that we are going to prototype will be for students and it will help them make friends with the same or similar interests within the University of the West of England.
This project is to create an interactive system that addresses student to student issues with in the UWE university. The project will have to provide an interactive and engaging experience for the users to resolve a certain problem that has been identified from interviews with students. The system that will be created will be based off the primary research that is conducted along with some secondary research and research in to existing similar apps that will aid in making the interactive system.
CURRENT SITUATION: (Why is the project needed and what would you like to achieve?
This project is needed to give students a kick start in to their university life and help students that cannot find friends with the same interests as them. The project should achieve success with students having a well-designed system where they can successfully find friends with the same interests as them, have an events forum where people can join and a messaging system between the students.
WHAT PROBLEM ARE YOU TRYING TO SOLVE?
The problem that was identified from primary field research was that some students had problems with finding other students with the same interests as them when they first joined university. Interviewees stated when they first joined university people they were accommodated with had different interests which they had tried but could not get on with and then later on it was difficult to find and join other groups of the friends with similar interests.
WHO IS THIS GOING TO IMPACT ON?
This project is mostly aimed to impact freshers that are attending UWE, however it is not limited to just freshers any UWE student will be able to use it. The app is aimed at freshers because it would be used to make friends with similar interests.
This is a storyboard to get a better understanding in to how our app would work.
Follow this link to see the storyboard: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Jotsv5x2hIEp0uxrV1z4f7UbdVVZfcyY/view?usp=sharing
Follow this link to see our paper prototypes: https://docs.google.com/document/d/139XtRyh59FSMJUkn5T0NuJGwAOQkdZHRpophSu6Iu38/edit?usp=sharing
User 1 found the prototype very different to the first one. This is because of its group system allowing students to join, share and post in groups. Their first reaction was that it was a much better design due to its stand out features and easy to navigate interface. They specifically pointed out how they preferred the search bar being at the top right of the screen rather than bottom left like it was on prototype 1. In addition to this, the events section is vital for students, mixing perfectly with the group feature, which means they can link these two together and easily organise plans.
User 2’s first reaction was that the group feature is an excellent idea. They specifically pointed out the extra features ‘Join, Share, Posts and Events’, mentioning how it’s a great way to interact with other students and linking it to a group is even better. The colour scheme works well as it’s the university’s colour (red) the layout if easy to operate.
When looking at this prototype, User 1 found the navigational aspect of the app very easy to use. It’s a simple design and easy to follow. However, the layout is very basic and similar to other social apps which meant that the design could be changed in order to make our app stand out. As well as this, the options available for the user (e.g. news, messages, profile etc…) are very basic features which could be improved by creating a more things for students to do on the app.
On the other hand, User 2 found the prototype very simplistic, but in a way that it’s not difficult to follow. This made it an enjoyable experience because everything is easily labelled and straight forward. When asked whether they think it’s similar to other social apps, User 2 replied “Yes, but because of the familiarity, it’s much nicer using the app. Rather than having to learn and find where everything is on a new style interface”.
www.facebook.com www.stunited.com www.linkedin.com Siang, T. (2019). The Building Blocks of Visual Design. [online] Interaction Design Foundation. Available at: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/the-building-blocks-of-visual-design