Connect University Mobile App
Using Design Strategy for a Better Mobile Experience
Connect University Problem Statements
A mission statement describes what a company or product wants to achieve on a high level and how it wants to achieve it.
Connect University Mission Statement
Crafting a solid vision statement is important to the success of a product because it allows all of the contributors to quickly re-align on the "big picture". It's the "where we see ourselves" statement.
Connect University Vision Statement
A value proposition is the value promised to users. It is the reason they truly use the application in the first place. Having a clearly defined value proposition serves as an anchor for design decisions going forward. Below is the value proposition for Connect University.
Connect University Value Proposition
I took some time to sit down with the primary stakeholder and talk about the core attributes of the company. Knowing these attributes allowed for me to anchor back to them through all my design decisions and ensure higher satisfaction in delivery.
- Engaging & Connected
- Keep people feeling engaged & connected with their social circles
- We should feel modern & progressive, not traditional
- We should feel inviting, welcoming both new and existing users
- We are not part of the school branding, we are student focused, not faculty focused
I have a strength in understanding technology constraints since I have a bit of web development background. I wanted to make sure to conduct an audit of the technology stack so that I could keep feasibility in mind for my design decisions going forward.
- Mobile App Framework - Ionic
- Cross Platform Deployments (Android and iOS)
- Utilizes Familiar Web Technologies (HTML, CSS, JS)
- API Backend - Node.js/MongoDB
- Cloud Services - Amazon Web Services (AWS)
- Cloud-Hosted Deployments, Images, Content, etc
- Scales with Increased Traffic/Usage
- Version Control - Git
- Collaborative Codebase
- Easy to See Previous Versions of the App
The app is built using the Ionic Framework. This essentially means that it is a mobile app containing a website wrapper. Features such as advanced photo editing, video editing, or anything GPU intensive should not be considered.
Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Establishing Key Performance Indicators makes sure that there is an established means of measuring success.
- Monthly App Installs - Growth
- Monthly Signups - Growth
- Average Session Length (Time) - Engagement
- Average Session Length (Screens) - Engagement
- Event Attendance - Engagement
- Chat Messages Sent - Engagement
- Deals Claimed - Engagement (Ad Engagement)
- Groups Joined - Engagement
- Positive Reviews - Delight
- Twitter Mentions - Advocacy
- Invites Sent to Friends - Advocacy
- Profile Completeness - Care
Creating customer personas allows us to quickly remember who our users are, as well as provide an anchor for design decisions going forward; ensuring that every design decision lined up with the goals of our users. Working with the primary stakeholder, I was able to come up with the following personas:
Connect University Persona - College Student (Bianca)
Connect University Persona - College Club Leader (Jason)
Connect University Persona - Local Business Owner (Scott)
Coming soon, stay tuned!
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A SWOT analysis let's a company assess those for things. It helps the company take off their "success blinders" and also take a chance to focus on their weaknesses or short-comings.
Connect University SWOT Analysis
The Hook Model defines the stages of building habit through a product experience. An effective Hook Model implementation will result in keeping users feeling "hooked" and keep them coming back for more. The following is how the Hook Model applies to the Connect University App.
Connect University Hook Model Analysis
User Flow Analysis
The point of analyzing user flows is to help a business get an overview of all the flows a user could go through in their interactions with a product. Each flow can then be dissected and improved through business analysis, user testing, or heuristic analysis.
The first part of the user flow analysis was to create the flow outline. The flow outline lists the expected flows to be experienced by the user at a high level. For the ConnectU app, the flow outline was the following:
- Signup Process
- Login Process
- Search for a Deal
- Claim a Deal
- Search for a Group
- Join a Group
- Search for an Event
- Attend an Event
- Start a Group Chat
- Updating Profile Information
The next step is to breakdown each flow into interaction steps, in the case of a mobile app this would be taps and gestures. Below is a quick visualization outline of the account signup process user flow.
Connect University UI User Flow - Signup
Wireframing & Feedback
Wireframes are a great way to quickly get ideas out and validated by stakeholders without investing too much time and money into the nitty gritty details.
I created the following wireframes in an application called Balsamiq Mockups and presented them to the primary stakeholder before moving on to higher fidelity designs.
Connect University Wireframes
Connect University Wireframes (Continued)
High Fidelity Mockups & Feedback
Once the wireframes were presented, iterated, and approved, I was then able to spend my time focusing on delivering high fidelity mockups. In a perfect world, the goal is for the developers to implement as closely as possible to the designs in these mockups; but you will usually find slight differences in the implementation.
Connect University High Fidelity Mockups
Connect University High Fidelity Mockups (Continued)
A growth strategy lays out a high level plan of action for how awareness of a product will be achieved. I came up with the following growth strategy for Connect University.
- Increase brand awareness by providing value to potential users by writing blog articles related to their pain-points. These blog articles should end with a natural mention of our product and how it addresses the user's pain-point; examples:
- Feature the product on startup/product websites such as:
- Pass out branded stickers and college school supplies on campus, these branded items should include a link or QR code back to the ConnectU website
- Allow users to invite friends in their phone contacts or Facebook friends list
- Search for qualified leads on Twitter talking about the pain-points we solve and provide value by responding
- Answer questions on Yahoo Answers and Quora related to the pain-points we solve
- Leverage student directories for lead generation and to A/B test email campaigns
- Find student organization leaders on LinkedIn, send them leader targeted information regarding our product and how we can satisfy their pain-points
- Allow college students to share events and groups on their Facebook pages
- Place ads on the MBTA (public transportation) on routes that go to college campuses
User Retention Strategy
I created a Retention Strategy so that the team would have a well defined action plan for keeping existing users coming back to the mobile app. Without a retention strategy, you are almost guaranteed to lose more users than if you had one.
- Send users a welcome email (with their name in it) with a clear direction of what to do next
- Send users a triggered email after a set amount of time of being inactive, with clear direction on how they can be more engaged in their community (such as joining a group, sharing an event on social media, etc)
- Make discount codes change daily (the discount code changes every day so that users must keep the app installed and keep opening the app to claim discounts at local businesses)
- Send users emails or push notifications about new groups at their campus as well as when new students join the app
General Recommendations Going Forward
I quickly realized that analytics were not setup in the mobile application. This meant that we were virtually blind when it comes to quantitative analytics and how users really use the application. This also meant that we were unable to track key performance indicators (KPIs). I made an immediate recommendation to the product owner for the developers to incorporate analytics via Google Analytics.
I also realized we were missing out on a big opportunity to bring inactive users back via triggered time-delayed emails. For example, we should send a user an email if they don't join a group within a day. We should also send them an email if they have not attended an event within a week, or if they have not claimed a deal at a local business within a week.