To design a digital mobile interaction that improves the experience of finding a mentor in the workplace.
Capstone Project, BrainStation
June-September 2023, 10 weeks
Solo UX/UI Designer, User Research, Wireframing, Prototyping, User Testing, Design System, Brand Development
Working professionals have a hard time finding and keeping mentors.
Mentorships can boost our careers and job satisfaction, as well as reduce our feelings of isolation at work, but in my experience, it's difficult to determine who is willing to put in time and effort to mentor someone else.
A mobile app that shows employees who is available and willing to mentor in their own workplace.
The Mntor App addresses common needs for mentees in the workplace, such as:
Full visibility of coworkers available for mentorships.
Hand-selecting mentors who match their needs.
Having a mentor who knows the context of the mentee's struggles.
Having the support of employers in their professional development.
Continue reading to see my 10-week process developing the Mntor App...
Step 1: Discover
The Current State of Mentorships
Right off the bat, I had a lot of questions and assumptions but not enough facts. To gain an understanding of the problem space of mentorships and to identify opportunities for a design solution, I employed 3 research strategies, Secondary Research, User Interviews, and Competitive Analysis.
workers with a mentor say they're satisfied with their job.1
of mentors and mentees feel empowered and more confident from their mentorships.2
of employees manage to have mentors.3
My Secondary Research was my first deep dive into the problem space. It validated my assumptions that while the majority of people liked having mentorships at work, it was still a relatively rare occurrence at work.
But...do we need another mentor app?
To answer this question, I performed a Competitive Analysis. This allowed me to see opportunities to improve on the current offerings, rather than create a redundant clone. Services such as 10K Coffees, MentorcliQ, and Qooper focused on employee-to-employee mentoring, which was the direction I wanted to go in.
To see how these apps have solved the problem, and what they can do better, I looked at their reviews online while asking myself these questions:
1. How do they match their employees?
2. How do they engage their employees during the use of their product?
3. How do they get around the busy schedules of their employees?
4. What is the overall feeling of using the platform, from the employees’ POV?
5. What are the strengths of the competitor?
6. What are the weaknesses of the competitor?
✅ Uses Auto-match
✅ Saves time for employees with integrations
❌ Onboarding is long
❌ Hard to find other teams
✅ Uses Auto-match
✅ Goal templates and agendas available
❌ Can’t track sessions
❌ No metrics
❌ Boring UI
✅ Uses Auto-match
✅ Easy to track analytics
❌ Designed for enterprises
❌ Employees can’t see reports and reviews
I wanted to hear first-hand from my peers why mentorships aren't a bigger thing in the modern workplace. In order to gather qualitative data, I conducted 5 interviews with a set of open-ended questions, and probed them about their pain points, attitudes and behaviors concerning mentorships in the workplace. I gathered the data into an affinity map.
Main Takeaways from the Discovery Phase
- It’s hard to find willing mentors who align with the mentees’ values and preferences.
- People want workplace mentorships so that someone can vouch for them at work.
- Existing products cater to the employers, not the people actually having mentorships...and they’re boring to use!
Step 2: Define
Who is this app for?
Based on my user research, I decided to focus on mentees as my primary user group. My research into competitors' products inspired me to design something that specifically focuses on making the journey of finding a mentor as easy and delightful as possible. After all, it's a "work" app, why not make it fun to use?
How might we match employees with suitable mentors in the workplace in order to support their professional growth and increase job satisfaction?
Meet Our Persona
Based on my interview data, I created Wendy. This will help as I imagine myself in her shoes every step of the design process to ensure I am meeting my users' needs.
Wendy's Current Journey
Next, I created Wendy's Experience Map when searching for her dream mentor, in order to accurately pin point where a digital intervention would be most effective.
Step 3: Diverge
Searching for a Mentor
During the ideation phase, I came up with dozens of user stories for a potential solution. None satisfied Wendy's immediate needs as much as: As a mentee, Wendy wants to search for a mentor and filter the results, so that she finds someone who is a right match for her.
Sketching for a Solution
Using this task flow as a starting point, I expanded each screen from the Task Flow into 3+ sketches, keeping loose with my ideas at this stage.
Step 4: Deliver
Build, Test, Iterate
During this stage, I prototyped my proposed solutions, tested it with users and implemented the revisions. The goal is to improve the user experience with each iteration. The task flow continued to evolve with each round of user testing.
I conducted two rounds of usability testing, iterating between each round. Here were the major improvements:
The Home Screen was cluttered with unnecessary information, distracting from the CTA. I added a Search Bar and cleaned up info irrelevant to the user's needs.
The Date/Time Picker was confusing due to being unfamiliar to usual mental modes. It was replaced with simple time chips during the chat screen.
I also made other changes to improve the user experience, such as moving the "Schedule Meeting" to after chatting with the mentor, so that the user can get comfortable with the mentor first before committing to a meeting.
An Enhanced Mntor-ship Experience
After more rounds of testing, I converted the prototype into a high-fidelity mockup. After 10 hectic weeks. I am excited to present a solution tailored for working professionals looking for mentors within their own workplace.
Will Mntor really improve mentees' lives, though?
Through my research, I discovered there were lots of opportunity for A) autonomy and B) warmth and delight within the workplace mentorship experience. Mntor aims to give the users maximum autonomy through discovering and contacting motivated mentors on their own. On the branding and UI front, it was always designed with joy in mind, with the use of cute mascots and a warm palette. After all, career development isn't always sunshine and rainbows, let's make this process friendly and welcoming!
My Key Learnings.
Don't try to solve the problem for everyone
My early mix-up with user roles was due to me trying to solve the problem for both mentors and mentees. Obviously, that was not feasible and I had to make the decision on what to prioritize.
UX Design is Collaborative
If I relied on my own biases and assumptions, I wouldn't have succeeded in creating Mntor. User feedback, as well as feedback from my colleagues and educators were critical in the development of the product.
Research, research, research!!
I had to dive deep into understanding my users before solutioning. As a result, when I began ideating, I already had lots of ideas on how to make my users' lives easier, and at every step of the way, I knew exactly what users needed.