Lenya King
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Mentorship App

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Selected Prompt: Mentor Connection

Design an experience where prospective mentors and mentees can be matched, based on similar interests, location, and availability. Show your process and how you arrived at your solution.

Time: Three Days

 
 

Problem Statement

How might we develop a tool for Mentors and Mentees that connects them, helps build a relationship between the two and helps them achieve their goals?

 

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User Research

I approached this design challenge by first looking at who would be using this app. What kinds of people are mentors? How do mentees connect with their mentors and what do they hope to get out of it?

 
 
I had a great mentor when I was right out of college that helped me build my confidence. I also want to see more women in technology and in leadership roles so I want to help in building that vision.
— Annie, Mentor
 
 

Assumptions

As a mentor myself, I went into this challenge with a few assumptions of my own, based on my own experience. Mentees are often proactive and open for feedback. They are sponges for knowledge and love learning new things. Mentors take pride in helping others achieve their goals. But what about mentors’ goals? What does it mean to be a mentor and how is that different from a mentee? What if you identify as both?

 
 
 
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Survey

I decided to reach out to several Slack channels with a short survey to help understand people's goals and behaviors in a mentorship. I received 37 responses from people who were more than happy to share their own experiences.

 
 
 
 

Survey Questions:

  1. What is your email address?

  2. What do you consider yourself?
    (Mentor, Mentee, Both, Neither)

  3. What is your first name?

  4. What is your age?
    (Under 18, 18-24 years old, 25-34 years old, 35-44 years old, 45-54 years old, 55 and older)

  5. How do you prefer to communicate with your mentor/mentee?
    (Email, Phone, Text Message, Skype, Other…)

  6. What does your typical weekday look like?

  7. What is it that you really want to be and do?

  8. What are you doing really well that’s helping you get there?

  9. What are you not doing well that’s preventing you from getting there?

  10. What will you do differently tomorrow to meet those challenges?

  11. How can a mentor/mentee help?

  12. What does mentorship mean to you?

  13. What is your current employment status?
    (Employed part time (up to 39 hours per week), Unemployed and currently looking for work, Unemployed and not currently looking for work, Student, Retired, Homemaker, Self-employed, Unable to work)

  14. Any additional comments?

 
[Mentorship means] having someone in your corner.
— Brooke, Mentee
 

Results

The survey results I received helped me gain greater insight into who the core audience is and what their goals and pain points are. I was surprised to see that over 51% of people who took the survey identified as both a Mentor and Mentee, rather than one or the other. Additionally, only 11% of participants preferred to communicate with their mentor/mentee in person. How people choose to interact is an important consideration, especially when designing a mobile solution.

The survey results also revealed that most participants were able to articulate current challenges and how they might be able to work through them. This helped support my initial assumption that people involved in mentorship programs are often driven and goal-oriented.

You can view the full results from the Google Sheet below.

 
 

What do you consider yourself?

What is your age?

 
 

Survey Observations

In order to understand the responses I received from participants, I decided to create an affinity diagram. A method that was first developed in the 1960s by Jiro Kawakita, a Japanese anthropologist, affinity diagrams organize ideas into their natural relationships and helps categorizes information into logical, cohesive groups.

 
 

First brainstorming session

Observations and ideas organized into different categories

Close-up of goals participants mentioned in the survey


Categories:

Pain Points

Impact

Goals

Growth

Tools

Observations:

  • Imposter Syndrome

  • Doubts self

  • Lets things slide

  • Putting client needs ahead of self

  • Overthinks things in general

  • Overwhelmed by future

  • Burned out

  • Too hard on self

  • Lack of experience

  • Stuck changing careers

  • Mentorship as sponsorship

  • Mentor could help validate concerns

  • Mentorship is having someone in your corner

  • Collaboration pushes people forward

  • Mentorship helps battle Imposter Syndrome

  • Need to be more positive

  • Have a career with a purpose

  • Learn to say No

  • Need help speaking up

  • Need to go to more networking events

  • Could do better job at long-term goal planning

  • Wants to make a positive impact on society

  • Revisiting 2018 Personal OKRs

  • Need help with time management

  • Needs more self-discipline

  • “Ask more questions and stop being so shy.” - Diana, Mentee

  • Actively learning

  • Keeping relationships healthy

  • Taking courses to further career

  • Seeking opportunities to help others

  • Seeking new approaches to art

  • Invests time and money into personal development

  • Video chat


Takeaways:

Users are hard on themselves.

Mentorship is about collaboration and helping others achieve their goals.

Users are driven and self-aware of what they need to do to succeed.

Users are inspired to grow both professionally and personally.

Many users were comfortable turning to technology as a way to connect.


 
I think [mentorships are] a two way street where both the mentor and the mentee have the ability to grow from the relationship.
— Paige, Mentor
 
 

Personas

I created two personas based on my user research thus far. Personas helped me create reliable and realistic representations of my core audience that I also used for reference when designing later on. Objectives I focused on when developing these personas included describing the user and specifying what their motivations are.

Carefree manatee probably not looking for a mentor

Carefree manatee probably not looking for a mentor

When developing these personas, I realized that I didn't feel like the term "mentee" was appropriate for this role. It was too close to the word "manatee" and, as adorable as those creatures are, I decided to brainstorm other solutions. Ultimately, I decided to use the term "protégé", because the word sounds more empowering, and gives a greater voice to those who seek a mentor.

 
 

Primary Persona

Secondary Persona


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User Flow

 

User Flow A: Sign Up

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Wireframes

 

I started sketching what the app would look like and brainstormed key features that would support the overall experience at this point in my process. Keeping in mind that end users are goal-oriented, I wanted to design a system that included the ability for users to keep track of their goals. Additionally, I focused on designing around the key flow: connecting Protégé and Mentors together.

 
 
Sketching wireframes, with specific focus on icon treatment and navigational elements.

Sketching wireframes, with specific focus on icon treatment and navigational elements.

Brainstorming key views

Brainstorming key views


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Main Views

 

Key Features:

Ability to easily switch between Mentor and Protégé profiles for those that identify as both

Planner helps keep projects (mentorships), goals and events organized

Advanced filtering offers Mentors and Protégés ability to find a match that's right for them