Vidhi Mehta

The following case study is a hypothetical assignment that provides an overview of my design process while creating a mentoring platform based on skills, interests and availability. The case study was completed in 15 hours.

Brief

Design an experience where prospective mentors and mentees can be matched, based on similar interests, location, and availability.

Mentoring can be a great way to share knowledge and help someone be successful in their personal or professional life. But many potential mentors are often too busy to commit to regular meetings, or they have a hard time connecting with people seeking help.

Solution

Shoshin is a symbiotic mentorship platform that facilitates professional growth. Members can not only benefit from other member’s experience, they are also empowered to influence the growth of

Process

My design process is a derivative of the double diamond design model invented by the London Design Council.



Problem Statement

Mentorship can play a significant role in shaping personal and professional life. “How might we help people connect and forge meaningful, lasting relationships?” I approached the brief by first penning down my thoughts at a high level These included questions, assumptions, hypothesis and even a few ideas.

Research & Findings

Secondary Research

Diving through internet, I found a statistical study on mentorship in the technical industry. Few key problems identified in Emma’s study were:

Over 90% people find it hard to initiate conversations seeking mentorship.

70% Fortune 500 companies have some sort of formal or informal mentoring program. This has enabled employees to continue to grow in their career path and helps the company retain them. However, not all of them are as successful as their organizers would hope for.

46% women do not have access to leadership to support their career.

Survey

Using quantitative and qualitative data helps debunk myths and understand member pain points. Thus ensuring the solution is designed for the right use cases. For this task, I conducted a survey with 20+ participants trying to learn their needs from mentorship platform.

Link

Insights

Skill mismatch

It is difficult to find someone with the right skill-sets and mind set. I might be too skilled or not skilled enough for the person.

Reaching out

I am unsure of where to find the right people to connect with.

Commitment

Finding a common time slot to connect. Everyone seems busy, I don’t want to impose.

Logistics

Communicating online vs offline, asynchronous vs real time.

.

'Shoshin' is a word from Zen Buddhism which translates to beginner’s mind. It refers to having an attitude of openness and eagerness to learn without preconceptions even when studying something at advanced level.

For the success of the solution it is important that all members feel that they can learn something, no matter where on the career ladder they are.

While the role of a mentor and a mentee are well defined and non fluid, it is important to realize that an individual can hold both roles that of a mentor and a mentee. While the person learns from one, they may mentor another.

Goal

Connect members of the community to like minded individuals that can help them grow in their professional lives.

  • Connect individuals based on their skills and development areas.
  • Build a quick and easy onboarding flow that validates/verifies member identities.
  • Allow members to have control over their commitment to their mentors/mentees.

Gaurd rails

For the purpose of this assignment I built the following constraints to help me focus my design decisions.

  • Platform: Mobile
  • Design systems: Google’s Material Design
  • Solution must follow accessibility guidelines

Wireframes

Early paper prototype, to build user journey and get feedback from members.

After receiving sufficient feedback on the paper prototypes I switched to Sketch where it is easier to move elements around. Sketch wireframes gave me more control on the interactions and helped me plan my storyboard and narrative.

UI & branding

I have used open source design libraries from Humaaans by Pablo Stanley (Blush.io) and Google’s Material design to develop the final prototype.

Typeface: Roboto 


Accessibility

  • Touch targets: 48 x 48dp minimum touch targets for all tappable fields.
  • Clear and succinct UX copy to explain actions to members at every step.
  • Easy to understand hierarchy of visible elements with colour contrasts according to accessibility guidelines (4:5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text).
  • Error states and next best action available for screens.

Shoshin | Grow together

Onboarding

Suman wants to create her account on Shoshin. The platforms asks her to sign up via either her LinkedIn profile or her school/company id. This helps the platform verify her profile. Her onboarding requires her to complete 4 questions:

  • Photo, name, role and company, location – imported from Li
  • Student or a professional – radio buttons
  • Skills you excel in – chips
  • Development areas – chips
  • About – text field
  • Photo, name, role and company, location – imported from Li
  • Student or a professional – radio buttons
  • Skills you excel in – chips
  • Development areas – chips
  • About – text field

Community

The Community section focuses on showing Suman some on the preliminary mentors that the platform recommends for her. The page is divided into different sections that are treated with different visual styling based on the hierarchy. 

The cards are designed to easily scan information and allow members to make a first level decision if they are interested in the individual. The cards thereafter rely on matching the member with mentors based on their preferences such as interests, location, school, company etc. 

Research indicated that a lot of people found their mentors by reaching out people from their school, previous workplaces or skill groups that they are part of. These cards use follow on a similar hypothesis to find relevant matches. I also designed cards for events as some participants said that they met their mentors at networking events.

At the end of this page is an educational modal that lets her improve her matches by adding more details to her profile.

Member profile

Member profiles are a more detailed snapshot of the people on the platform. The page is divided into various sections, starting with the top card. 

It is easy for Suman to see Ashish’s qualification, skill sets, experience, mentoring style and recommendations. Suman will also see if she shares any connections with Ashish (in this case alma matter). 

I think this will help ease her conversation with the person and allow her to establish a connection.

Request mentorship

Suman explores Ashish’s profile to learn more about this match. 

Suman decides to send Ashish a mentorship request. Her request is sent with a personalized message that let’s her explain what she is seeking for.

*If the member is at full mentorship capacity and cannot mentor more people, the request button will be disabled. There will be an option to opt in for a notification when the member is available again.

Notifications and Requests

Ashish gets notified when Suman asks him for a becoming a mentor. Ashish chooses to accept her request. 

Requests tab also contains pending requests that Ashish has sent out to other members of Shoshin to seek mentorship.

Ashish can see Suman’s request in the Request section of the application.

Request section is divided into 2 sections:

  • Pending mentee requests that the member has received.
  • Mentorship request queue sent by the member.

Mentor-Mentee requests are capped to 5 active relationships on the platform. This is to ensure that the communication is not spread too thin and people get value from their conversations.

Ashish will see the message that Suman wrote when seeking him out as a mentor in context to her profile. Ashish can then choose to accept or ignore this request. He also has an option to message Suman if he wants to ask her further questions before accepting her request.

Both mentors and mentees will see the active state of their connections on the platform when they are online.

Also, they can choose end their mentor-mentee relationship on the platform at any time by toggling the drop down button in the top card.

Messages

Mentors and mentees can communicate with each other through the messaging section of the application. Messaging is supported by multi media uploads such as photos, audio files, pdf etc. Messages also lets members schedule meetings, mute messages in case one is on a vacation or would like some downtime and report abusive content.

Profile

Ashish can see his own profile and edit his skills and development areas on the platform. 

Success metrics

  • Number of members matched
  • Balanced ratio of mentors to mentees 
  • Number of messages, scheduled calls

Supporting metrics: low number of uninstalls, page load time and voice of members

Learnings & conclusions

  • This design exercise has allowed me to showcase my approach to problem solving and product development.
  • Working on this exercise solo was a new experience, and it has helped me appreciate the joys of teamwork, and collaboration a little better.
  • The core value proposition for Shoshin is how allows a person to take on bot roles – Mentor/Mentee thus not only growing, but growing together.

Stretch Goal

The prototype focuses on mobile interface however the platform isn’t necessarily mobile only. The capabilities of the application can also be extended to desktop and watch interfaces.

The current solution is primarily focused on individuals who are trying to grow in their careers. However, given that over 70% of Fortune 500 companies have some sort of formal or informal mentoring programs, Shoshin can be a great B2B tool. A separate role for the admin/organiser of the program needs to added to it’s current mentor-mentee usecases.

Our current landscape for mentoring isn’t very inclusive to gender and races. Reports show that over 50% of women don’t find senior leadership support in their workplaces. The platform should ideally help to filter out these biases and provide equal opportunity to all members. One of the early solutions I thought of was to use alias names and digital avatars for all members to overcome the subconscious bias. However there are con to this idea as people are a lot more likely to be abusive behind an anonymous identity and therefore I did not pursue it further.

Shoshin can utilize several of Google’s in-house products to make this a complete ecosystem for its members. These include:

  • Calendar: To check availability and schedule meetings
  • Drive: to share documents for feedback
  • Hangouts: for audio and video meetings

Hypothetical brief, January 2019
Tools: Sketch notes on paper, Figma, Google Form
Illustration credit: Pablo Stanley, Humaans

 

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