Designer + Researcher
Statement of Purpose
Univibe’s aim is to best match students with schools that reflect their wants, needs and personality so that they may make smart decisions for their future education.
When thinking back on our experiences as high school students getting ready to apply for college, my teammates and I shared stories of struggling to find a college that matched our personality simply because it's difficult to find the vibe on campus until you're literally on campus. Oftentimes selecting a university is like picking blindly out of a box as selection of schools based purely on objective factors like geographic location and budget lead to disparate placement into an unfavorable, adverse university environment. This could lead to wasted time and money most families wish to save.
Prospective undergraduate/transfer students often wonder what the vibe on campus at a university is like, but cannot always visit every school they're are interested in. Sometimes, after their first year on campus, they realize the school was not a good fit at all.
A website that will aid prospective undergraduate/transfer students in their search for the best school that suits them from a personality standpoint reducing time, money, and mental resources.
In order to understand how we personally would figure out the vibe on our campus, we took some time to observe the environment of UT Dallas by sitting outside the student union. We realized that:
General atmosphere: relaxing, walking pace is moderate
Conversational notes: most people are paired or in groups working on homework, talking about classes
Buildings are new, modern, sleek. Clean campus
Personable campus. People are friendly and opening (sidewalk signs, people leave electronics around because they feel safe and trusting)
From there, we discussed our own opinions about the vibe on our campus and felt that we had a better idea of what to ask of other students about their campus as well as questions to ask university advisors. We began brainstorming some primitive concept maps of the platform we were trying to build:
Interviews & Pain points
At this point of the process, we had a clear direction of what purpose we would like our solution to fulfill, but felt unclear which media format would best fit our audience. We decided on our platform a bit later, but did a deep dive into the history of our problem.
Undergraduate Advisor Interviews
We conducted several interviews with undergraduate advisors both on and off campus. We interviewed the following individuals to help further our research:
"Size of the university is a big factor. A lot of students think they want a big university with lots of offerings but then they go and visit the campus and are a little bit overwhelmed." - Montgomery
"...the vibe that they get. When you walk onto a university and it doesn't jive with you, that's telling. It has to have a good vibe where you feel like, "hey, I can see myself hanging out here, I can see my self making friends here." -Montgomery
"The academic rigor is enticing to a lot of students. Students that come here obviously aren't looking for fraternities and sororities granted, we do offer them...but I think students come here really know that UTD is an academically focused school." - Montgomery
"I think the most endearing quality to students is the location of the campus relative to their homes." - Henderson
"The fact that there are minimal sports teams...the laid back and easy going environment...and nice facilities" are what draws students to UTD - Snyder
We then created a questionnaire to send out to current college attendees to understand how others view their campus. We gathered our questionnaire data over the course of a week from students attending different schools all over the U.S. Below are some examples of questions we asked and the feedback we received:
Storyboard & Concept Map
After our interviews and questionaire, we narrowed down possible platform ideas to 3: a website, an app, and a VR platform and created storyboards for each:
Concept Map for A Website
Our findings were not only extremely helpful in determining what content should be considered in building university profiles, but they also allowed us to develop our solution into a website because the material we would gather would be too content-heavy to be application-based; desktops are more intuitive and accessible to a wider audience.
Refined Scope and Concepts
After preliminary research we found that the motivations behind undergraduate and graduate schools are vastly different, and for the scope of this project we have reduced our scope to undergraduate and transfers only.
One problem we discovered was communicated to us through one of our advisor interviews. She explained that students have trouble finding a college that fits their vibe and personality. Fortunately, this problem presented us with the opportunity to formulate more personal questions that would truly hone in on a student's personality and yield more fitting results for our potential users.
prototypes, field testing, & user enactments
The Speed Dating Matrix
Using a Speed Dating Matrix we were able to create a number of potential interactions a user might encounter while utilizing Univibe. We then selected the nine enactments (highlighted in gray) that best represented the features of our website. These nine enactments would be used as guides as we formulated scenarios for our user enactments using our low-fi prototype.
The Low Fidelity Prototype and Enactments
In order to carry out our enactments we created a low fidelity prototype (click to view our low-fi frames used during our enactments) that would allow us to demonstrate the features of our website. We gathered five different participants who acted out the activities specified in the nine enactments we chose. We photographed each of the participants and took notes as they were acting out enactments.
Luke, High School Senior
Noted importance of including "class size" as a question as he wants to attend a school with larger class sizes
Suggested to include a price range bar/toggle
Said financial aid should be listed earlier because if the college that is shown to him is not within his price range, he doesn't want it to be presented as an option at all
Mitchell, High School Senior
Liked the sports aspect as he hopes to attend a school that offers sports programs
Suggested including clubs (animation or AV clubs)
Can this be modified for someone who is looking for trade schools?
Suggested to include a number campus photos at the results pages
Allie, High School Senior
Questioned, "Distance from home"...Current home? or distance from potential college to potentially new or existing home
Instead of distance/distance from home, she would like option of being able to choose colleges in a specific state. (ex. she only sees herself going to school in Colorado but lives in Texas)
Brayden, Potential Transfer Student
Liked then general idea of the landing page but thought that the "Take the Test" was not apparent enough.
Incorporate email into the user profile.
Add user profile photo.
Wants able to adjust color scheme of user profile.
Lots of focus on creating a profile personalized for the user.
Amy, Potential Transfer Student
Suggested adding a progress bar to show how much still needed to be completed.
The final results page could reflect the best matched university's color scheme.
Wanted to be able to create a profile so that if the user had to stop midway through the questionnaire they could pick back up where they left off.
A majority of the feedback we gathered was primarily focused on questions or features we should include in our website, such as:
Additional distance/location options
Include progress bar
Create, personalize and save your user profile
ideas to develop further
Suggested to include a price range bar/toggle
Add current distance from home
Allow people to choose a specific state to go to college to
Profile to edit test at a later date
Perhaps include multiple photos of the 3 schools after match test?
Add progress bar
Make sure "Take the Test" is apparent
summary of findings
We realized that we should make the website more personalized allowing the user to create their own profile (that includes their personal information, a picture, their test results (that would allow them to edit the test when needed), and quicker access to contribute to Univibe).
Our system will consist of a website, profile-building program, and a database. The database will store information such as: user profiles, user contributions, school profiles (which will "answers" to Step 2: Personal
We updated our concept map:
We updated our storyboard to reflect some of our revisions to the concept (in bold):
Final System Concept
To demonstrate the Univibe experience, we created a Quicktime screen recording of a user moving through a series of high-fidelity prototype screens created on Sketch. The demonstration video was enacted to convey what we hope to be an interactive flow with the Univibe test form, designed with simplicity in mind yet also meant to be dynamic and interesting enough to keep the user engaged.
Univibe would greatly benefit its users by providing a subjective match-making system that takes into account not only their GPA and budget, but also their personal interests: whether or not they prefer cityscapes or the countryside, a diverse student body, prominent Greek life influence, etc.
user flow video
Before employing development with Univibe, potential technical, social, and usability issues must be openly discussed and addressed. A few that we anticipate to tackle and solve are as follows:
Users should have access to a computer and should not try to access it from a mobile device to receive a more fitting user experience.
Users should be able to recognize what he/she wants or likes or dislikes in order to generate more accurate results.
Initially we anticipate issues with having an adequate amount of data to build the university profiles. We will have to collect the information ourselves or have a third party gather our information.
Schools may not like or agree how they are being represented on our site.