We were tasked by the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (RUAS) to look into the struggles of international students to collaborate and learn together during the Covid-19 pandemic.
To figure out what the real challenge would be for us during this project, we dove head-first into desk research to further understand our topic. To do this we made a long list of questions we had, so we could tackle and answer them one by one.
I focused more on getting familiar with the topic of international (and remote) education, whereas Dennis focused on connecting with our target audience of international students. Following this, we were able to conclude that international students really couldn’t meet eachother physically anymore. Both the students and the educational programs weren’t fit for this.
Following this, we were able to define our challenge as;
How might the RUAS provide her students with an intercultural, educational experience which results in self-actualization, by use of a personal and context-rich platform?
These insights and design brief were then used to define our guidelines. We were also able to redefine our target audience as ‘international students of the RUAS that want to develop their intercultural competences’.
Have found a clear direction to head in, we were able to start developing concepts and design that would solve our design brief and satisfy our target audience’s needs.
To get to compelling concepts we used the brainwriting method together with other students. This resulted in a multitude of ideas we could further develop. Following multiple reviews with our tutors and fellow students, we were able to narrow down to two compelling concepts.
However, once we started working out these concepts and reviewed them with our target audience, we found out how little they actually catered to their needs. Therefor, we decided to completely ‘kill our darlings’ and reframe what was essential. We did this using our guidelines we had set up earlier to grade our concepts. From this we were able to develop a complete new concept that suited much better.
The concept we came to was a tool that would allow international students to get to know each other asynchronously first, and then define their own team rules and culture together.
Using the MoSCoW method, we were able to prioritize what features would be most essential to our target audience. We found out that the onboarding, and forming a team would be most essential. Therefor, we made clear flowcharts of each so we could work these out in wireframes.
We worked out these flows in Figma in the form of low-fidelity prototypes using wireframes. Given that we still didn’t know if it would work well, we decided to review this with an expert from the field. We learned a ton from this and made a lot of changes to the design.
The most vital screens of the low-fidelity prototype we reviewed with an expert.
Following this, it was time to start cranking out screens and develop the visual identity of the product. We choose to go with a very friendly and trustworth identity by using lots of round corners and friendly colours.
To make sure we could both work on screens and end up a consistent design, I set up a quick component and styles library in Figma that we could both use. From this we could quickly iterate and design screens. Along the way we had multiple reviews with our tutors, peers, and our target audience.
As a final product, we worked on a high-fidelity prototype we could test with our target audience.
This prototype ended up being quite extensive with a ton of screens we had to design. Luckily it all went smoothly, since between the design system I had set up, and the multiple reviews, we had both gotten the visual identity down quite well.
To finalize the experience, we worked on a story the respondent could experience while testing our prototype. This being something very close to what our target audience would experience in real life. Feel free to try it out for yourself!
This project was very insightful for multiple reasons.
First of all it was the first time I really got to work with international students, and for a corporate company like the RUAS. Secondly, because we were both passionate about building products, we actually had quite some time to build and test it. This resulted in multiple iterations and lots of components which was very nice to finally have time for.
Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (RUAS)
Communication, Media, and Informationtechnology (CMI)
Communication and Multimedia Design (CMD)
Design Challenge 8 (Blended Mobility)
Saskia Best and Nino Gontcharova
May 4th, 2020 — July 1st, 2020
Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences
Digital Product Designer
Figma, Notion, and Miro