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.
This is a full case study of our website, Univibe.
What population will the product serve?
Our product will serve prospective undergraduate/transfer students. This demographic expects to include individuals in the age group 17-22, though outliers will be considered as well.
What problem are you solving?
We are attempting to propose a solution that will help prospective undergraduate and transfer students select the best school that suits them from a holistic standpoint.
→ reducing time, money, mental resources wasted
Definition of Scope (Audience, Environment, Activity)
The scope of our project will be limited to three large Texas universities: The University of Texas at Dallas, The University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Houston. These three campus cultures will be studied and compared in developing our product.
Motivation and Preliminary Observations
We took the time to observe the environment of UTD on the Plinth, where much of the campus's socialization and traffic occurs. At the time of our observations(around 3PM), we noted:
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)
We also visited the Student Union to observe and listen in on the conversations that students were having, in order to gain better perspective of our audience. At 12PM the following notes were taken during this account:
- TV/lounge area near the ping pong tables
Small area with lots of comfortable seating and televisions
Welcoming space to for students to hangout
Belongings placed all over area- which gives the impression that people feel comfortable here
A girl in a group discussed issues with parking- “took 20 minutes to find parking today”
People playing card games (MAGIC and regular playing cards)
Some watching TV
Some doing homework
Several large groups of diverse people playing games together
One group spent time discussing what race each of them were
One group spoke about how broke they each are due to bills
Brief Account of Ideation Process
With our problem and audience in mind, each of the group members individually brainstormed what our website would like look and what criteria we wanted it to include. From this individual brainstorming we created rough sketches based on our ideas that we will later share and refine.
Proposal of Concepts (Descriptions, Sketches)
At the end of Milestone One, we were able to grasp a better sense of what UTD's environment and student interaction was like (through our field observations), what similar solutions existed and use these findings to brainstorm what content our solution would include to help us achieve our goal (as seen through our individual concept maps).
Although we have a clear direction of what purpose we would like our solution to fulfill, it is unclear which media format would best fit our audience. We hope to gather more insight through in Milestone Two.
Undergraduate Advisor Interviews
In order to gain better perspective of students' needs and concerns when it comes to choosing a fitting college, we conducted several interviews with undergraduate advisors both on and off campus. We interviewed the following individuals to help further our research:
To take our research even further, we chose to create a questionnaire for current college attendees. The questions were thoughtfully created to reflect what we had learned from the advisor interviews, our field observations and relevant elements pulled from existing websites. 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:
"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
After conducting interviews with advisors from a community college and public university, our findings were not only extremely helpful in determining what content should be considered in building university profiles, but they also re-affirmed our decision to develop our solution into a website. The material we have gathered is too content-heavy to be application-based; desktops are more intuitive and accessible to a wider audience.
Ideation and Selection
Concept Map for Website
Refined Scope and Concepts
We refined our scope in an earlier iteration of our study when we distilled our targeted outreach from prospective undergraduate/transfer and graduate students. 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.
In conclusion, we feel that our solution will best ease the struggle of perspective students who are having difficulty finding their dream school as it will give them a free, travel-free, and personalized example of the top three schools they should attend. From there, the student is given the tools needed to further research their matches and decide to schedule a campus tour or to attend.
We also believe our best platform would be a website because the form the perspective student would have to fill in would be very comprehensive and might seem like too much on an app. We believe we can make the form interactive and fun to work through that would help ease how long it possibly could be.
- Our primary research was gathered from a number of existing websites that claim to help finding fitting colleges for students. We also did field observations at UTD to help gather insight on UTD’s environment, vibe and student interactions.
Using the data and elements drawn from pre-existing websites, our field observations and interviews with college advisors we were able to generate a questionnaire for current college attendees. The data responses we gather from these questionnaires will allow us to generate college profiles. The potential students who use our websites will then be matched to college profiles that are the proper fit based on their ideal college criteria.
Criteria for Success
We as group will be able to determine if our project is successful if we are able to deliver a functioning website to potential college students. We will be able to further identify that our goals are met if the potential students are presented with fitting colleges based on their answers to the questions they are provided through our website.
Experience Prototype & Demo Plan
Step 1: Choose one concept you would like to further develop
Concept: A website that undergraduate/transfer students may utilize to find a fitting college for themselves
Step 2: Design and conduct 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
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)
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
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.
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.
Step 3: Interpret and articulate findings
All the participants understood the website's general purpose and were able to comprehend how the website would potentially be used. 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
Step 4: Generate new ideas to develop your concept 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
- Add clubs
- 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
Step 5: Establish criteria, analyze and select a refined concept
Apart from that, based on the feedback we got from our interviews, 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.
Step 6: Outline your system concept
Statement of Purpose
We aim to create a system for prospective undergraduate/transfer students to find their ideal school by personalizing their search to help better match them with a university.
New insights taken from our interviews have been added to our concept map to showcase what additional questions the site will ask the user and how it will function. Updates are highlighted in blue.
Below we have also updated our storyboard to reflect some of our revisions to the concept (in bold). We aspire that a similar story to this is what the majority of users experience when they use Univibe.
Step 7: Create a demo development plan
Some aspects of our prototype will be simulated such as the matrix, database, and inputing answers because we do not have the coding knowledge to create a fully working database nor the time to create such an intense database. The simulation will probably make the website seem to "go by fast" meaning the time to answer questions goes by quickly and the user easily navigates through them. However, in reality, the test should take around 20-45 mins depending on the user's reading comprehension and how quickly they make decisions.
We will prototype the user interface using Sketch and Illustrator to give the demo a rich view of the site.
Here is our plan for creating our prototype:
- Create basic branding that would be used around the website
- Create a set of low-fidelity prototypes of pages that will be used in the demo to guide the process of creating high-fidelity prototypes
- Map the user flow
- Create high-fidelity prototypes of pages that will be used in the demo
- Link pages together via Invision to get a feel for how the website will behave
Motivation for Our Application
Univibe aims to provide a solution for prospective undergraduate and transfer students for the method in which they find a fitting university. Through Univibe’s comprehensive quiz we are able to present students with a number of college options that meet the criteria for their ideal college experience.
Brief Overview of Our Formative Study
A large amount of formative research was done prior and during system designing process:
We began with field observations at The University of Texas at Dallas and observed several of the common areas students frequented. Through this we were able to gather insight on a typical college environment and the student interactions that occurred at these areas.
We then interviewed several professionals that were involved with undergraduate and transfer students. These interviews allowed us to create a better understanding of what students' needs and concerns were in choosing a fitting college.
Utilizing our field observations, interviews with college advisors, and research derived from pre-existing sites we were able to compile our College Questionnaire. The feedback we gathered through our questionnaire allowed us to flesh out more relevant content for our website and led us to generate a preliminary version of our Univibe site.
We then began our prototype process, where we created a number of scenarios a user would encounter while utilizing Univibe. We then chose the ten best enactments that we thought best exemplified the features of our website. Utilizing a cardboard version of a laptop and low fidelity screens, we asked 5 participants to carry out each of 10 enactments. The 5 participants we involved were thoughtfully selected to represent our user demographic- three high school seniors and two potential transfer students. The feedback from these enactments was assessed to help us refine and add additional content to what would be the final concept of the Univibe system.
Univibe is a matchmaking service designed to connect prospective students to their most compatible schools. By offering a free test, Univibe takes an in-depth look into the student’s personality so they can save time, money, and effort in their college career.
This includes the key elements of the system, features, and high level components and architecture.
Univibe aims to help prospective undergraduate/transfer students find their ideal school by personalizing their search to help better match them with a university.
Our test-based system seeks to find a better solution for selecting a university, a process where significant amounts of time, money, and mental resources are invested and often wasted. After mandatory filters such as GPA and budget are factored, Univibe aims to save prospective university students from wasting those valuable resources by matching them with a school that will resonate with them from the very beginning.
Formative Study + Results
In order to gather a better perspective of our user demographic, we conducted a number of formative studies to help generate more relevant material for our website. Our initial study involved field observations at the University of Texas at Dallas through which we were able to gather a sense of what a university's "vibe" truly entailed and take note of student interactions. We then gathered interviews with a number of professionals that work closely with college students. We interviewed an advisor at UTD who specializes in students who are undeclared majors, a Collin Community College advisor who specializes in transfer students, as well as an advising assistant in the Arts and Technology department.
Utilizing our advisor interviews, UTD field observations, and research derived from pre-existing solutions, we were able to compile a questionnaire for current university attendees. The questionnaire was then sent to students all over the US over a span of two weeks. The feedback we gathered through our questionnaire allowed us to further refine our scope, flesh out more relevant content for our website, and led us to generate a preliminary version of the Univibe concept map that laid out how our website would be navigated.
Experience Prototype + Results
To begin our prototype process we developed a "speed-dating matrix" to create a number of scenarios that a user would encounter while utilizing Univibe. We then selected the ten best enactments that we thought best exemplified the features of our website.
We created our tangible prototype by crafting a cardboard version of a laptop with a slit at the top that allowed us to insert low-fidelity screens drawn on paper. The screens could be switched in and out of the "laptop" to give us the opportunity to simulate what it would be like to navigate through the Univibe site. Five participants were thoughtfully selected as representatives of our user demographic. We chose three high school students who were due to graduate at the end of this school year and two potential transfer students currently attending Collin College. The participants carried out the enactments we selected, and their feedback was gathered and assessed to help us add additional content to the Univibe concept map.
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.
Oftentimes selecting a university is like picking blindly out of a box, particularly with recent high school graduates who may not have university contacts to ask for sound, honest advice. Selection of schools based purely on objective factors like geographic location and budget lead to disparate placement into an unfavorable, adverse university environment, ultimately leading to wasting the time and money they initially sought out to save.
We believe that 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. Through Univibe, valuable resources like time, money, and mental energy would truly be saved.
We speculate Univibe can be coded within two years or less; however small bytes of the website could be rolled out over that timeframe to market and attract users as well as investors. We would also need to spend several months identifying what branding language speaks to our user best, how the branding should go about, and the logo design. Finally, social media handles will have to be created and marketed on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
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.
We thoroughly believe in the value of our Univibe concept. After several iterations of research, discussion, and refinement we have developed what we confidently think to be a persuasive preliminary solution to avoiding wasted valuable resources in selecting a university. Univibe is meant to be a personalized, user-centered system that aims to help prospective undergraduate/transfer students select their best fitting school based on important subjective factors that will ultimately shape one of the most critical chapters of their adult lives.