Ethos Student App

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HOW IT STARTED

Every university seems to have it's own mobile app for students, but are any of them actually useful? Do students use them at all or are they severely lacking any real value? As far as we could tell there was a huge opportunity in this space and we wanted to tackle it. The bottom line: Students need an app that actually helps them navigate their university experience.

We wanted to design a modern product that could provide assistance throughout the day while going to and from classes, making students' lives undeniably more manageable, and giving them the tools they need to feel empowered. 

  • Client: Ellucian Stakeholders
  • Timing: Q1 & Q2 of 2017 
  • My Role: Ideating, Wireframing, Visual Design, Prototyping, Story Boarding
 

CHALLENGES

The product should work for any type of student but our main focus was a traditional 18-22 year old young adult who is tech savvy and has a low tolerance for any app that isn't "amazeballs." 

Designed to fit seamlessly into a student's life.

  • How do we use design to really speak to young adults and their tastes?
  • Should we lean towards something that is basic but easy-to-use or a playful discovery driven experience...or something in the middle?
  • If we want them to use our app instead of a combination of existing apps they already have, how do we create that value?
 

SCOPE OF WORK

While we knew how important this work was, the priority was getting the company stakeholders onboard and wowing our current clients at our yearly conference. 

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  • Build an understanding of students' lives and how they use technology within their education. 
  • Find out where there are pain points.
  • Research our current products to discover opportunities for growth.
  • Build out wireframes and test everything.
  • Tell a story through prototyping and story boarding.
  • Present to clients at eLive 2017.
 
 
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THE PROCESS

 

 

DISCOVERY, PROTOTYPING, AND TESTING

This project was completed using the swarming technique. Many of us were working on other projects but were brought in to swarm and collaborate for a couple days to several weeks. Therefor I was not involved in every piece of this process, but helped with some and was given access to all the research and caught up enough to do my part effectively. 

  • Conduct student interviews, learn everything we can. 
  • Use mural boards to organize and sort through data. 
  • Create personas, mental models, journey maps, etc.
  • Ideate & wireframe, get feedback.
  • Build low-fi prototypes and test with students. 
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DESIGN CONCEPTS & DELIVERABLES

I was brought into this swarm in time to put the final pieces together. At the time there were only low-fi wireframes, placeholder text, and some big ideas about a sleek, modern interface. 

 

TELLING A STORY

We decided the best way to show value was to tell a story of a fictionalized student using our product. Using our understanding of the target user, we wrote out a story that highlights how a student (we called her Zoe) relies on technology to accomplish tasks and have a productive day of "adulting."  

 

CONCEPTUALIZING

It was important to me that I didn't design everything in the most predictable way - which can be a real challenge when you've been utilizing the same pattern library for over a year. I did a lot of research of popular apps among young adults and looked for common themes. While building out the workflows I constantly looked for opportunities to include moments of delight without being intrusive. I presented many different iterations of the same screens until we struck the right balance between enjoyable and useable. 

Several different iterations of the home screen.

Bold motivational typography art with large nav overlay. Swipe through content. 

Personalized greeting with background that changes as the day progresses. Scroll down to see content. 

 

Minimalist home screen with customizable navigation, content, and design elements. Robust visual search with suggestions to explore.

 

Motivational typography art with schedule below and a traditional bottom nav. Includes prompts to action and encouragement throughout.

 

THE WINNING CONCEPT

  • I used a more adventurous style of navigation and bold, but clear layout and style that would appeal to a younger generation.

  • Different aspects of the product are brought forward depending on where you're at in your day. The things needed most will be right there waiting.

  • Many customizable features and content areas.

  • Nothing of priority is buried too deep. 

  • Navigation is customizable so the user can determine what is important to them.

 
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PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER

Telling the story of a student using our app throughout her day.

FINAL RESULT

The project was presented at eLive 2017 to a very positive reaction from clients and colleagues alike. 

  • Learned many insights on how modern students can utilize technology to feel empowered and in control of their college experience.
  • Lots of "thinking outside the box" in terms of our current design system and styles.
  • Came up with creative ways to give students assistance and motivation throughout their day. 
  • Team continued to iterate and build upon established concepts.