Here's an overview of what the entire UX lifecycle looks like when I develop an app
I recently roughed out an app as part of a job interview. Here's what I did.
The problem, users, scope & constraints, the vision, and success metrics
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.
Mentor Connection is a heterogeneous app with two distinct categories of participants
Mentees may be looking for help with personal or professional growth
Mentors ideally have 5-10 years of experience ahead of their mentees.
Mentees may be looking for help with personal or professional growth.
Scope & constraints
The project needs to document my thought process through a project’s life cycle, but needs to be fleshed out in about a week with one interaction designer and no budget.
Given the constraints, I decided to focus on minimum viable product, with a quality, but simple, experience. Nice-to-have features were set aside for "next steps" when they came up.
Connect mentors and mentees through an intuitive, accessible, easy-to-use product that surprises and delights.
Establish similar interests
Connect based on location
Make scheduling easy
I then set out some clear implicit and explicit metrics to define what meeting our user's needs would look like.
We could potentially want to include metrics connected to the business model as well, such as app purchases, ads, or organization subscription. But I'm used to working in a context where monetization comes later or in a broader sense and focusing on an incredible user experience is my main focus.
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.
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.
Mentoring overview, mentoring empathy map, competitor user reviews, competitor app study, and user journey map
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
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
First, I fleshed out an empathy map by polling friends and family about their mentoring experiences, both as mentors and mentees. I then organized their comments into things they say, think, do, and feel. Lastly I distilled their ideas into pain points and hopes.
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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.
Here's a sample of some of the user reviews I came across
March 14, 2020
Brilliant idea but the app is horrible to use. Will try again in a few years when the app is working.
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.
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
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
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
Personas, flow chart, wireframes, prototype, testing, inclusive design, and identity
User journey map
I took the comments and synthesized them to map out an experience with a competitor app
I plugged six personas into the process to help leverage my user empathy
I went with such a high number because I wanted to be able to keep an eye on both mentors and mentees, on top of the categories of academic, personal, and professional contexts.
Yavette Curtis| UX Designer
Education: BA Human Computer Interaction
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.
Busy, frequently needs to reschedule
Not sure how to assess who would best benefit from her coaching
Ethos Elliott | Illustrator
Education: MFA Illustration
Help younger artists and illustrators develop business practices that are sustainable.
Unsure of how to connect to illustrators that are still in school
Low tolerance for clunky apps
Gregg Smith | Nutritionist
Education: MA Nutrition
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.
Has a hard time reading his phone
Most potential mentees are relatively wealthy