Ignitus

Non-profit organization that helps students and professionals get research and industrial internships

Overview

About the project

Overview: A Non-Profit Organization for the welfare of the student community that helps students and professionals get global research and industrial internships. More about Ignitus.

Timeline: Nov'20 - May'21

Team: 6 team members and I was the only designer with some volunteer people helping on the project.

Skills: Product Design and Management.

Role: User Research, Interaction Design, Visual Design, Prototyping, User Testing

Tools: Figma, Miro

The Solution

Ignitus Web App

The solution proposed is a web-based application which can list opportunities posted by professors and can be viewed by students, also include a chat system to communicate on the application. Students can search for internships based on their fields and form a community of professors and students.

Research

Interviews & Surveys

I conducted contextual interviewed on a call with the professors, researches and students to understand our core users, their environment, and majors tasks to accomplish. I gathered data on their current workflow and major challenges. This data helped us in finding opportunities to solve the problems.

We found that most students found the process for these internships to be a bit less tedious and expected clear guidelines about who to contact, the timelines, and clear information about the work of professors and the available positions. Students also expect clear information about what kind of skill sets are required for the different kinds of roles available.

Participants

We chose 6 people including Students (1 from India and 1 from the US), 2 Professors from CMU to interview, and researchers and scholars working in universities on their research paper. Interviews conducted were semi-structured and from universities, Berkeley, CMU, Stanford, etc. Over three days, we received 100+ responses from students who were currently in an assistantship position, students who were interested in these positions, and students who were looking for these positions.

Framing the problem

We brought together our individual research data and created broad or high level themes into which the major challenges faced by the students fell under. The major themes were:

Thumbnail Image

Communication

There was no response from professors so who to ask for help and how to communicate was a problem.

Thumbnail Image

Resources

To find opportunities, students to google search, email researchers and professors and arrange meetings with them or get referrals.

Thumbnail Image

Work Environment

They are interested to know of what kind of work is the internship about and what skills would be good to have and does that match their interests.

Thumbnail Image

Application process

Whole process is uncertain, time consuming and frustating. They need to know how they can secure the position or improve their profile better.

Ideation

Information Architecture

After we had brainstormed potential solutions and analyzed pain points, we created a detailed map outlining features needs to be developed. This allowed us to get a grasp into how the platform would work system-wide. This allowed us to start defining a specific step-by-step process.

Exploring ideas & opportunities

After surveys and several interviews, the primary pain points of students searching for positions were assessed. We aim to inform students of available positions, connect them with professors and researchers,and ease their process of working with them. The results of these methods were analyzed in several meetings we came up with 3 different possible designs solutions.

Prototype

Brand identity

At this stage of product development, we already had enough insights into the company perspective. So it was the right time to look upon the branding aspect of the application.

Gathering the insights about the education platform we decided to choose a blue color. Indeed blue is associated with open spaces, freedom, trust, loyalty, sincerity. Because we wanted to create a platform to help professors, students and other people, we wanted to find a font expressing a friendly and human feeling. That’s why we have chosen American Typewriter.

The logo symbolizes joining hands(in form of a tree trunk) and as it is a non-profit community so representing that in the form of a tree. The leaves can be looked in the form of flames to represent the passion and desire to help people.

Color palette

The central principle of visual design in this app is the cleanness of user interface and the emphasis on the main elements of the content. Based on that was built look and feel of the app. For this purpose colors were defined as bold and engaging which can attract attention to an element even if it takes a small part on the screen. We also didn't want to confine our look into a limited choice of colors so it was decided to use many different shades for additional colors.

Design Style Guide

Designing the Product

We had brainstorming sessions in which we received feedback from the team on each of our designs. We received valuable feedback which showed us which features our users liked and which features our users did not like by conducting surveys.

The three main components of the overall user interface are the Dashboard, Internships and communication. Some key screens of the application are illustrated below.
View in Figma

View the live Website and codebase in Github

Landing Page

1. Dashboard

2. Network

3. Profile

4. Feed

5. Opportunities

6. Opportunity Description

7. Messages

8. New Message

Development

Once we have a design, now it's time to hand it off to developers. Thanks to Figma, developers can analyse the project as a whole and get the required assets and CSS for the screens.
As this is a open-source project, so I decided to start build the design system and them create the screens and features step by step. I create a github issue explaining details and providing assets and help the contributors with any questions and also approve the user interface and designs. We are still building the platform and taking part in various open-source programs. View more details in Github

Evaluation

User Testing

We recruited students from the various universities to participate in a task-based think-aloud session. During the session, we analysed their flow and held follow-up interviews and also did the heuristic analysis.

During the interview, we asked participants to choose the top 5 words from a word list reflecting their experience. The top 5 words that we got were: Convenient, Innovative, Clean, Effective and Comprehensive. Many users have told us that they hope our design converts into a business solution that can be used by the students in the future!

Takeway

Reflection and learning

My experience in Ignitus paralleled my transition into the field of UX as this was the first project where I was responsible for UX design and project management, strategy, and team leadership. It was a great experience collaborating with developers and other team members which helped me in developing a holistic idea about the feasibility of the design. Designing the app has been a challenging and rewarding journey.

Finally, I faced the challenge of creating an engaging app both from the user experience perspective and the visual perspective. UX project completed and many lessons learned. This project involved so much, and yet I'm left pondering all the ways to supplement the design of the Ignitus web app to make it even more accessible and inclusive.

Next Steps

The design cycle is a constant iterating process, now I am constantly collecting user feedbacks from different users and iterating the design. These are some points which could be improved in the future:

  • Make a design component library- As when the project was started figma didn't had soo many features.
  • Internal Design critiques and feedback modifications.
  • Work on Brand Application to promote the idea.
  • Application front-end development with the Design System.

Thanks for making this far. Let's connect, if you are interested in the idea and want to help the community.