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Seek / Product Design

 

Seek

A web platform that simplifies and personalizes course discovery to help UT students align their academic experience to their interests and career goals.

Seek is my senior capstone project that represents the culmination of my design education at the University of Texas at Austin. The problem it addresses is something I am very passionate about. I didn’t start out as a design student, but by stepping out of my comfort zone I was able to find the love for the work I do today!

The ultimate goal of this project is to acknowledge the often winding road we have to take to find our interests, engaging education, and a fulfilling career.

 

SENIOR CAPSTONE PROJECT

ROLE
User Research, Visual Designer, Interaction Design

CHALLENGES
Wearing all the hats, figuring out what’s the next step

WHAT EXCITES ME
Hearing people say, “Wow, if we could actually use Seek that would be so helpful.”

 
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THE PROBLEM

The threshold of obtaining a comprehensive understanding of available courses is too high, driving students to turn to less substantial methods that cause misalignment between their interests, career goals, and the courses they are taking.

 
 
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THE SOLUTION

Seek is a web platform that houses essential course information that students often consider and utilizes common social media interactions to simplify course discovery.

The design addresses issues by consolidating course details, recommendations, professor information, and scheduling tools. It increases awareness of available courses by expanding peer networks. Lastly, it addresses students’ interests, learning styles, and career goals in a direct way.  

The final output was a prototype of the web application in a series of screens, a video walkthrough, and a gallery exhibition at the Visual Arts Center.

 
 
 
 
 

IT ALL STARTED WITH A QUESTION…

Friends would say “oh, I really like to make things and be creative,” but when class registration rolls around, they end up choosing random “blow off” classes for an easy A.
Why is that?

 
 
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I wanted to tackle the issue of "finding passion in learning." 

My initial direction was to move towards a solution that utilized online courses to help students find that passion, because it provided flexibility. However, my first set of user research led me in a completely different direction…

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I discovered that the online education space had many technical limitations and was more suitable for self-motivated students to pursue subjects that they already know they are interested in. 

Since the setting of a course really influenced the type of learning students experience, I decided to narrow it down to a college setting. I interviewed students on what types of courses they enjoyed and how they navigated the college education space to find subjects they were interested in. I also interviewed professors and advisors to get a holistic understanding. 

 
 
 
 

The biggest pain point students had in this passion-searching journey in a college setting was course registration.

The results showed that there was a disconnect between how courses were portrayed on the registration site and what the course actually entails. Because of that issue, the majority of the UT student relied on word-of-mouth to discover courses they think they would be interested in. 

Below is a series of windows students often open up to prepare for registration. It is a tedious process with information scattered across different sources. Even the course schedule site takes a while to navigate to find basic information.

 
 

My original hypothesis showed only intrinsic factors, while in reality many of the influences were based on extrinsic factors.

After synthesizing the research and drawing similarities between user pain points, I came up with three key insights to act as my compass in the design process.

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Design, polish, user test, repeat…

Using the persona's registration journey's, I arrived at a general concept of where the product would be valuable in the user's registration journey. The simple, first iteration wireframes gave a me a visual sense of what features would be needed in the platform. Then, designed simple low fidelity screens to do paper prototypes.

 
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And more iterations…

The screens below are some of the past iterations. I went through a few more rounds of critiques with fellow students and faculty to perfect the visual language and user experience. To see the full walkthrough, check out the video at the top of the page or click here to watch the video.

 
 
 
 
 

The senior exhibition was the most exciting and rewarding event of my college career!

This project occupied both semesters in my senior year, and the last was fully dedicated to exhibition preparation. My classmates and I spent countless hours discussing branding, considering the logistics, and how to display our individual projects. It was very exciting, and slightly nerve-wrecking, to see the culmination of our work that night. But no matter how vulnerable I felt presenting a year’s worth of work to strangers, I will always be grateful to be able to exhibit my work in this way. Since most of my designs live in the digital realm, I rarely have the opportunity to consider how these concepts should be displayed in the physical space. It is even rarer to see people interact with Seek, be present for them to ask me questions, and be able to share my passion for the product.