PAVE

Goal

A streamlined mobile website that allows for easy tracking and better support of users' activities.

Role

UX designer
UI designer/developer

Methods

User interviews
Iterative Design
Medium-fidelity Prototypes (UXPin)
HTML/CSS/JS

Background

PAVE is one of the most successful student mentoring programs in the country, but its outdated activity tracking system had resulted in mentors not consistently tracking their activities, which is essential for the organization's continued funding. PAVE asked our team to update this tracking system, as well as to create an interface that delivers educational content to mentors and lastly updating admin dashboard for managing mentors.

I worked in a team consisting of another designer, a developer, and a project manager. I focused on the mobile tracking application, while the other designer worked on creating educational training. The developer focused on the admin dashboard, which at first glance did not require much design work.

Interviews

I first conducted interviews with stakeholders of the project and learned who were the main users (mentors), their pain points with the current systems, and their motivations for tracking their interactions with their students.

Then I conducted interviews with mentors, and learned that:

  • The current system requires them to memorize numeric codes for each of their students for confidentiality reasons, but which also creates a barrier to tracking
  • Mentors vary greatly in the number of students they interacted with - some mentors interacted with all of their assigned students on a weekly basis, while others had never met them

I also learned of the different priorities of the people who were accessing system - the administrative staff and the team leads wanted to be able to track and gain insights from the various encounters that mentors had with students, while also being able to quickly coordinate and communicate with team members. The mentors wanted to be able to quickly log their interactions, and also to have access to resources if they didn't know answers to student questions or how to deal with a situation.

Iterative Design

I went through multiple rounds of designs and usability testing with a digital prototype. Usability testing revealed that:

  • Some users may not log their interactions when they meet their mentees frequently. This causes the organization to have less accurate data about interactions.
  • When users send mass emails to their mentees due to busy schedules, they would still have to log a separate interaction log for each mentee. This required them to manually type in repetitive information about each student.

After each round of usability testing I presented results back to stakeholders. Example of a presentation on usability test results here.

I also conducted an agency-wide design review to pick up on any usability issues. During the workshop I asked people to walk through the prototype and give feedback on specific elements. Example here.

Interaction map

The final designs focused on making sure users could quickly log both individual and group interactions. I mapped out the screens for our back-end programmer, so that she could clearly see what type of data was needed on each screen.

Visual Guidelines

Based on the client's existing style guidelines, I created high-fidelity mockups that could be used as the basis for front-end development.

Outcome

The designs are currently being used by PAVE for their student mentoring tracking data.

What I learned

Constant communication is invaluable

I didn't realize until working in the industry more that I had taken for granted what really worked about this project: the team's biweekly practice of sitting together all day in the same room really helped in communication and making sure the project ran smoothly.

The entire team also had access to stakeholders through weekly meetings, where we could directly ask questions instead of getting a filtered view of their needs, and I also had direct access to users. This made iterative design and getting feedback from stakeholders relatively smooth. I could run user interviews through one or two weeks and then present findings and recommendations to the stakeholders.

Using time wisely

On this project I took ownership of one section of the project and saw it through from research to front-end development. Looking back, instead of spending time coding, I could have devoted my time to incorporating more user-centered design to the other portions of the project by creating and testing prototypes for the admin dashboard and the training modules. Although my team members did amazing work, it would have been helpful to get more users to interact with these components.