Process

3.

Mentor Connection

Here's an overview of what the entire UX lifecycle looks like when I develop an app

Overview

1.

The problem

Mentoring is widely agreed to be a powerful tool to help people grow in their personal and professional life. But many potential mentors are often busy and have a hard time connecting with people seeking help.

Users

Mentor Connection is a heterogeneous app with two distinct categories of participants

Mentees may be looking for help with personal or professional growth

Mentors

Mentors ideally have 5-10 years of experience ahead of their mentees.

Mentees

Mentees may be looking for help with personal or professional growth.

Scope & constraints

The vision

Connect mentors and mentees through an intuitive, accessible, easy-to-use product that surprises and delights.

Success metrics

I then set out some clear implicit and explicit metrics to define what meeting our user's needs would look like.

Number of matches

If users are connecting then things are headed in a positive direction. The ratio of initiated contacts to successful matches would also be helpful.

Number and length of sessions

How much time users spend together has a big impact on the mentoring process.

Mentor / mentee review ratings

Consistently positive ratings would let us know that users were finding value in the mentoring.

Onboarding completion rate

Users need to successfully move from downloading the app to onboarding to use it.

Uninstall rate

Both the uninstall rate and the timing of uninstalls could provide valuable feedback.

Direct user feedback

Direct user feedback would provide a concrete way of knowing our impact.

Discovery

2.

Research

During my discovery phase I first explored an overview of mentoring in general, apart from an app. I asked a variety of people about their experiences and turned them into an empathy map.

Then I  looked at competitors' apps and their user reviews. Lastly I had two volunteer testers download a mentoring app of their choice and I mapped their journey.

Mentoring overview

Mentoring seems to be widely seen as a powerful tool in personal and professional growth. For example I saw a lot of statistics about high school students with mentors engaging in less risk-taking behavior and entering into college at higher rates. 

Common challenges that came up:

  • Not connecting interpersonally

  • Failing to find overlapping time slots

  • Having a transactional experience

  • Feeling uncomfortable asking for help

Best practices that were noted:

  • Employing empathy & active listening

  • Focusing on actionable guidance

  • Engaging with a growth mindset

  • Modeling flexibility

  • Identifying hopes, fears, and goals

  • Having a formal but flexible meeting rhythm

  • Establishing clear expectations

  • Pairing folks from similar industries or with similar interests

Mentoring empathy map

Say
  • Where do people find mentors?

  • Do I need to already be a mentee to use this?

  • Does this app vet the mentors?

  • Why do they need a photo of me?

  • I want to meet Carolyn Guerrero!

  • Learning about your mentee and asking them about their priorities every time you meet is key

Think
  • Do other people need mentors?

  • Will mentoring really make a difference?

  • Am I too busy for this?

  • What if I don't like the person I'm matched with?

Do
  • Asked about mentoring on their social media channels

  • Volunteer with an organization

  • Developed the knowledge or expertise necessary to be a mentor in that particular area

Feel
  • I felt worried that I didn't have enough experience/expertise to offer

  • Am I being overly needy?

  • Am I good at what I do?

  • Will I be liked?

  • This could be a cool mentor

  • Hope, anticipation, reduction of frustration

Pain points and hopes

Pain points
  • Lack of guidance from the mentor program

  • I thought my mentees would have a better idea what they wanted from me as a mentor than they did

  • Having to admit how much you don’t know

  • When it turns out they’re not willing to listen

Hopes
  • This is an opportunity for growth not just for the mentee but the mentor as well!

  • The absolute joy in seeing them grow and I hope that they will someday surpass you and then pass it on to others.

  • Get the support I need

Competitors

Almost all of the apps I looked at either focused on professional or academic mentoring. The majority of existing mentor apps appear to be limited to organizations that subscribe to them. The remaining apps had relatively negative customer reviews.

Competitor reviews

Here's a sample of some of the user reviews I came across

Catalin Rapeanu
March 14, 2020

Brilliant idea but the app is horrible to use. Will try again in a few years when the app is working.

jelena stajic
March 23, 2019

A good idea, awful execution. The user experience is confusing. It's not really clear what a user is supposed to do after signing up. On top of that the design is outdated and cluttered with useless UI elements. 

Obrad Kostic
June 2, 2019

I just downloaded the app, but i can see there is no option for classifying as just a high school student. I can understand why, but I would like to find help from mentors too, without having to explain to them that i'm actually not from some random university that i picked.

Competitor app study

I convinced two friends to choose and download a mentor app and report on the experience

MentorMe
  • I chose because it was the first one that actually seemed to be clear about its function in its name

  • I signed up easily without requiring an email

  • It prompted me to select my interests from a very narrow list...  the three that I chose were peripheral because none of the options were actually close to my interests

  • When I was offered the list to pair with mentees, the closest in matching interests was 60% and the furthest was 40%- whatever that means

  • I was not able to see any information about any of the people at all unless I wanted to connect with them

Mentor
  • It seemed to be obvious about what it was. It was not.

  • When I went to sign up it sent me an email confirmation and the link worked directly

  • I was asked to pick interest areas, but from an extremely limited set of business terms

  • I was sent to a "begin conversation" screen with a woman's thumbnail in a bubble. There was no explanation about what the conversation would be about.

  • I went to the listings and found that I was in the "agile" group-  no idea what that meant

  • I found some modules that seemed to explain what I was supposed to do, but nothing made sense to me except that it seemed to be made for a specific company or curriculum

User journey map

 
 
 

Personas

I plugged six personas into the process to help leverage my user empathy

Yavette Curtis| UX Designer

Age: 38

Pronouns: she/her

Education: BA Human Computer Interaction

Goals

Pay forward the mentoring she received while in high school and college. Help bridge gender and race gaps in tech by supporting women and people of color.

Frustrations

  • Busy, frequently needs to reschedule

  • Not sure how to assess who would best benefit from her coaching

Ethos Elliott | Illustrator

Age: 43

Pronouns: they/them

Education: MFA Illustration

Goals

Help younger artists and illustrators develop business practices that are sustainable.

Frustrations

  • Unsure of how to connect to illustrators that are still in school

  • Low tolerance for clunky apps

Gregg Smith | Nutritionist

Age: 47

Pronouns: he/him

Education: MA Nutrition

Goals

Would like to donate some of his time to help low-income folks gain access to habits and foodways that maximize their health while minimizing their carbon footprint.

Frustrations

  • Has a hard time reading his phone

  • Most potential mentees are relatively wealthy