Xiran Yang

Collaborator

Making interdisciplinary collaboration easier.

 

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Overview

Project Brief

Collaborator is a mobile application prototype. It aims at helping students in the same educational institute to find collaborators cross departments. A user can log into this app either post a project idea and look for collaborators with certain skills, or find a project that requires skills he has to become a collaborator of others.

My Role

I worked on this project individually as a UX/UI designer.

Methods & Tools

Storyboard / User Research / Competitive Analysis/ User Flow / Wireframe / Prototyping / User Testing

Adobe PhotoShop / Adobe Illustrator / Adobe XD

Find a project to collaborate

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Upload a project proposal

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Find a talent to collaborate

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 Background Story

How can I find my collaborator?

As a student who is interested in emerging technologies and new media arts, I am always trying to express my understandings about this world by combining different technologies, art and media formats. However, as I am eager to explore new approaches to express my ideas, I also constantly encounter the problem of not having enough experience in a particular area I am interested in. So I always have this idea to collaborate with other people. I want to contribute what I am good at and at the same time learn from my teammates who are experts in things I am less experienced with.

However, I sometimes find finding a collaborator not an easy mission. For instance, if I want to build an interactive installation. and I am most experienced in physical computing and less experienced in visual design or fabrication. I really want to collaborate with some people who have strong visual design skills and fabrication skills. However, when I ask around, people who are available are not quite strong in terms of visual design or fabrication, yet the strong candidates have different schedules with me and could not spare time to collaborate. I also send emails in my department email list and ask people to forward things around, but sometimes people just do not really read emails. Anyway, various situations make finding a collaborator really difficult.

So a strong willing just emerges from the bottom of my heart “I want a platform where I am able to find partners!” I really wish there is one in my school which could allow me to post a collaborator request to all students on campus and also potentially allow me to become collaborators of others.

 

User Research & Insights

People

My targeted audience are college students who work at the intersection of different subjects and have the needs to find cross-department collaborators.

I interviewed 5 students who will be the potential users. I asked about their personal experience finding partners.

These students come from different backgrounds including computer science, fine arts, architecture and design. When they are creating projects, they often run into the need to collaborate with other people.

Goals

I am interested in learning their current approaches of finding collaborators and find the pain points of their current experience.

 

Two Approaches

From the interviews, I found that

The most used approaches people use to find collaborators outside their own majors is either by asking a friend to recommend candidates or sending emails to other majors’ email list.

Tools people use the most include Instagram, Facebook Messenger, gmail (phone&web based), WeChat(as well as other chatting tools on the phone).

Pain Points

Lack of efficiency

The first pain point is that the current methods (asking friends/sending emails) are not efficient enough. Asking a friend might end up taking a lot of time - what if my friends do not know anyone I know? And passing emails around might lead to a situation that people do not reply efficiently.

Lack of matching system

The second pain point comes when there are several candidates to choose. Since people are collaborating with people outside their our area of studies, if they have multiple potential collaborators to choose from, sometimes it might be tricky to decide the most ideal candidate. How do I make sure this person has the right skills I need? How do I know someone will be a better collaborator than someone else? Though talking to each individual helps to make a decision, Still, is there any better method besides that?

 
 

Analysis of Current Service

Tisch Talent Guild (TTG) - Through my research, I found a student-oriented organization (web platform) at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University which aims at fostering student collaborations.

 

What do they provide?

TTG basically provides two main services. The first one is a find feature and the second one is a submit feature.

A user can use this website to find collaborators, projects, talent as well as scripts(stories);

A user will also be able to submit his/her own project idea/personal profile.

Pros

It solves the "collaborator-matching problem” by providing portfolio and resume of the talent.

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Cons

Not inclusive enough - Although the platform claims to foster collaboration among various departments, they are more targeting towards majors related to performing, acting and video production. Other majors like Interactive Telecommunications Program or Game Design, which focus more on design and technologies are less included.

Information Architecture is a lit bit complicated - The “project” and “stories”, “collaborator” and “talent” sections are a bit overlapping. When clicking into a project page, the information hierarchy is a bit messy.

Efficiency Problem- Once you find a project you are interested in or an ideal collaborator, you will still have to go through the “send an email and wait” process. You have to move from one platform to another in order to get into connection with people.

 
 

Opportunity

Based on the interview and competitive analysis I did, I figure that there are a few opportunities to improve the current “finding a collaborator” progress:

A mobile platform where users will be able to find collaborators, projects and upload their own project ideas easily

A direct messaging function that allows people to contact with each other directly on the platform

A more inclusive community where more majors could be included

 

Userflow

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wireframe

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User testing & insights

Three tasks to test with

I designed three scenarios for my users to test the app.

You are new to this app. You are creating a dance and technology project. You would like to use this app to find a dancer.

You are an actor. You currently are not engaged in any show. You go on this app to see if you will find some projects you are interested to participate in.

You have a cinema project proposal, you want to use this app to post your idea and see if it will attract some people to collaborate with you.

 

User Feedback

Confusing Phrase

Users think that the phrase on the home page are not clear enough. Some of did not realize that projects and talent are places where they will be able to find a project or talent.

Solution - Add phrases that are more clear to the users

Confusing Icons

Some icons are not clear enough, for instance, the envelope icon, which I thought meant chats with other people is pretty confusing to users. People could get it in the end but the also felt it was not the best representation.

Solution - Use clear icons

Not aware of certain features

Some people did not realize that the can add their own profiles to the talent pool in the settings.

Solution - Add on-boarding instructions to make the user realize that the can add their profiles into the talent pool

Want to learn the title rather than major

Interestingly, I found user were more eager to learn the specific title and skill sets of each talent instead major.

Solution - Add “title” in the talent profiles

 

refined wireframe

Based on the user feedback I got, I refined my wireframe. I tried to use more clear phrases and icons to provide better instructions for the user. I also re-think and re-designed the first-time user login experience so that they know how to add their profiles to the talent pool. I also modified the information I provide on each page based on the information I got from my users.

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 final prototype

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