Rethinking the

University of Texas at Dallas International Center App

The International Center (IC) provides opportunities for UT Dallas students, faculty and other stakeholders to participate in international education activities. The IC serves as host to over 7,000 international students, offers programs for students wishing to study, work, or volunteer abroad, and provides resources to faculty interested in adding an international component to their teaching or research. 

 

This is a full case study of my app solution.

 

Preliminary Concepts

WHAT POPULATION WILL THE PRODUCT SERVE?

My app will serve prospective undergraduate/transfer international students as well as current international students. This demographic expects to include individuals in the age group 17-27 as often international students are older than U.S. students for various reasons.

WHAT PROBLEM ARE YOU SOLVING? 

My goal for the app was to establish a clear purpose of the previous version: to guide International Students during their immigration process and ensure they keep their residency.

MOTIVATION AND PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS

The current app was very cluttered and seemed disorganized. The development team created the app themselves so it had user flows that did not match human realities, meaning, it simply wasn't easy to use or intuitive.

Current version

Along with that, the advising office was constantly filled with international students asking questions, often which those questions could be easily answered from the UT Dallas website or on the app itself. Even though some people just feel more comfortable speaking to people in person, I felt that this was an indicator that information on the app and website are not easily readable or difficult to find. I found this to be true when navigating and viewing both on my own time.

 

problem statement


How can i ensure less international students miss or forget important immigration deadlines?

Research

The audience is prosepctive UTD students as well as current students who are from abroad. Sometimes, navigating through the U.S. immigration system can be long, tough, and confusing. This is where IC comes in.This app’s original purpose was to alleviate the amount of questions the IC would recieve each day about immigration. Often, students would come in angry or upset that they had missed deadlines or mixed forms up. So, why don’t we assist by giving them a personal tool to use in their pocket?

interviews

I took to interviewing current IC students as well as the IC staff (since many were IC students themselves). When doing in-field research some of the questions I asked students were “what have been some of the challenges faced during your transition?”, “how did you find help for that issue?" and "what was the most difficult part?"

Some responses I received was that many students were unsure of the requirements (such as getting Tuberculosis shots before classes). They also felt that it can be difficult to get an advising spot. I also got feedback mentioning that some students still were confused on how to fill and submit forms.

BRIEF ACCOUNT OF IDEATION PROCESS

Having talked to many international students and discussing the app with the development team, I came to realize the app needed a very clear purpose. I believed the number one purpose of the app is to provide some way for students to either check off or see the next steps needed to either get their residency or maintain it.

From here I began sketching a new version of the app that had visual hirearchy, was modern, and addressed specific problems such as advising, not knowing the next step to residency in the U.S., and making sure all requirements are met before the first day of classes.

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High fidelity user flow

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video of the user flow

Reducing content can transform an app

By reducing the amount of buttons and options displayed, we force the user to follow a specific flow pre-determined by the app’s design thus, establishing a specific purpose and maximizing the app’s potential.

I gave the app an easier menu navigation with simple icons for the user to quickly understand what they mean. The checklist feature was given the most attention, helping the user figure out their next steps in their journey. Onboarding allows the app to personalize itself to the user so that the checklist corresponds with where the user is at in their academic or residency journey. Push notifications would be sent to the user's phone of any checklist items that have a due date.

The revised FAQ page allows the user to quickly an easily ask questions and get answers immediately. It shows the user previously asked questions as well as commonly searched questions.

If the user needs to visit advising, they can send a text to the advising que quickly via the app.

 

Branding

Along with the UI of the app, I was also inclined to create new branding for the app and illustrate simple images to enhance the visual look.

I also created a logo to match. The app was called iComet, so I created an airplane to symbolize travel with a contrail in the shape of an i. The overall color scheme of the app was in shades orange (our school color) and grays. I allowed my illustrations to reflect more of the school's official colors and bring life to the app.

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Final Look