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Make Friends at SU

PROJECT OVERVIEW

In recent years, college students who feel lonely account for a large percentage in American universities. In a 2017 survey of nearly 48,000 college students, 64% said they had felt “very lonely” in the previous 12 months. The impact of loneliness on college students’ academic and physical health may be far greater than we think, so we decide to build a "bridge" between students based on their common interests and hobbies and then encourage them to use various resources on campus together.

Watch the video to see all the features of the App less than three minutes


THE CHALLENGE

After interviewed with university stuffs and students, conducted immersive experience in campus activities and observed at university facility, we identify 4 pain points.

- It is hard to make friends on campus if you don't have enough classmates or you can't get along well with you classmates.

- Although there are many activities, festivals and entertainment facilities on campus, but many students don’t know about it.

- Many students who know about campus activities don’t want to participate in it, the top reason given by those students are the inconvenient time.

- Although some activities are great, they do not seem to establish a good connection between students.

THE SOLUTION

We will design a system or service that can help college students have a better connection with SU services and make friends at same time.

THE PROCESS

Timeline: 2 Months

Team Members: Jiayu Kang, Shane.

My Role: The leader of the group, UX and Interaction Design, User Research, and User Testing.

Tools: Sketch, Photoshop, Invision, Lucid Chart, Flipaclip, Whiteboard, Illustration, Notecards, Post-its, Pen and Paper.

Research Tools: Qualitative & Quantitative Analysis, Comparative & Competitive Analysis, User Research, Persona Creation, User Journey Map, User Flow, Wire-framing, Paper Prototype, High Fidelity Prototype, Clickable Prototype, Make a Video.


Discovery & Research

EXISTING SERVICE TO SUPPORT STUDENTS

We want to first check out if there are some existing services or events provided by Syracuse University that can help students to reduce loneliness and make friends. And indeed there some services and organization can offer the help, such as Individual Therapy Counseling in Barnes Center at The Arch can have a one on one counseling, Student Organizations can help students find friends with the same hobby, Student Association offers many opportunities for students have a connection with others, Healing Through the Arts Workshop help students find a way to release the stress.

Even though Syracuse University has a great services and activities in place and helps students a lot, given the stashes about loneliness on campus, it seems likely that a large number of students still feel lonely at Syracuse University. So we want to interview with students to truly understand what they feel.

STUDENTS INTERVIEWS

In order to find out the deep reasons of why students feel lonely at campus, we designed a semi-structured surveys for campus students, include open-ended quesitions about how the students form connection with others at campus, and what they like or dislike about campus facilities and events, and I had one-on-one Interview with some students at library, bus station and gym.

We considerate there are some students may feel uneasy to talk about loneliness, so We also decide to set up a survey point with no one around, when students walk by they could stop and fill out the survey by themselves and drop it into the box.

DATA ANALYSIS

After get lots of data and information from the surveys, we decided to use Word Clouds and chart to display the most important data for better inspiration.

How do you form connections with others at SU?

It seems that both lonely students and non-lonely students tend to make friends in a single way, basically through classroom interaction, which makes it difficult to make friends if you don't have enough classmates or don't get along with your classmates, which ultimately leads to loneliness. (this means that your classmates become the decisive factor of making friends, but each person's personality and hobbies are different, it's hard to say everyone have the same hobbies with their classmates, there is a big chance you can't make friends in class, which will possibly lead to loneliness, and even be isolated!)

What is the best way that you’re found to reduce loneliness and have social connections at SU?

According to the survey it seems that having friends is the best way to reduce loneliness.

Which of the following SU services have you participated in?

According to the chart we can see most of students like to participated in athletic and fitness activities, so in the second step of interview, we decide to go to the Barnes Center(Syracuse University Sports Center) to interview with center stuff. We believe this can help us get more comperehensive understanding of the service and activities university provided, and from stuff's perspective we also can get bigger picture.

Given to some survey quesitions are open-ended, we also decided to in-depth analysis of some surveys and get some valuable inspiration from that. Here are some useful information we got.

- One of the participants in a survey said she or he not feel lonely, but she or he did not participate in any school activities or services. It also points to the school's existing activities and services that seem to have little to do with helping students connect.

- In another survey, someone felt very lonely. He or she could establish contact with classmates in class, but only in class. In addition, although he or she participated in many school activities, the effect was not satisfactory, which also pointed out that the existing activities and services of the school could not help students to establish contact.

- In another survey, someone felt very lonely and tried to make friends in a club, but it didn't work.

- In another survey, someone felt very lonely. He or she was able to connect with classmates in class, but only in class. After class, he or she felt more lonely.

INTERVIEW STUFF AT BARNES CENTER

According to the survey results from students, we know most of students prefer to participate in athletic and fitness activites, so in order to better understand students behaviour we decide to interview with the Barnes Center stuff. Here are some of the results from one-on-one interview.

Staff:

Climbing wall: This activity is not very common in everyone's life, so this can give everyone a shot to try a new experience.

Esports gaming room: It can play different games for free. Students can play with their friends together.

Pet Therapy: Many people love dogs. It’s a good experience for students who want to take care of them and have fun with them.

Crowley Family MindSpa: There is a quick massage here and has a private, safe environment for students to relax.

Supervisor:

“Many students just took their headphones while they were exercising and did not communicate with others” (Adonis Fung,2019, Nov.5). This phenomenon may affect the socialization of students.

OBSERVATION AT BARNES CENTER

Students can have many chances to meet new people in Barnes Center(Sports Center) insteand of just make friends in class, so We feel this is a best place to observe how students interact with others especially with strangers.

Observed Result: This large new sports center has a wide selection of activities to choose from, among which the most popular fitness areas such as the treadmill are used by many people. But whether it's the cardio area, the swimming area, or rock climbing, it's hard to connect with others. Playrooms and basketball courts may give you the opportunity to build friendships with strangers, but only if you share the same interests. It seems that this place doesn't make good connections between strangers.

IMMERSIVE RESEARCH AT INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL

This international festival is full of delicious foods and exotic and colorful cultural displays from different countries, I feel this is a perfect event to meet new people and make friends on campus, so I decide to immersive myself into this festival to see if it is effective or good enough at build connection between students.

Research Result: The students here are divided into two categories, one come with friends, one come themselves. I saw most of the students come by themselves look around in the hall, hoping to find others to communicate with. However, this activity does not provide good opportunities or services that can promote the interaction between strangers, and the lonely people are still lonely.


Prototyping and Testing

OUR SOLUTION

According to information and feedbacks that we collected in the Discovery & Research step, we decided to design a app for students to let them fully enjoy the campus life by provide many university services and events information on Apps, they can look at the services or events and select one they like, and the App system will pair them with ohter students who have same selection.

This App would be useful, efficient and convenient because:

- It can help students meet new people at right time and right place.

- It can help campus facilities and activities be fully and easily used by the students.

For the safety concern (To prevent someone may use software to do bad things):

- App only add events and facilities hold or exist at Syracuse University campus, after all we think campus is relatively safe compare to the other place.

- App only provide the account registration to the Syracuse University enrolled students.

PROTOTYPES

After the ideation, brainstorm, persona creation and the user flowchart process, I design multiple versions of app interface, the ultimate goal is to design a easy use and really helpful App for both students and university.

Welcome page: I want to show vitality, youth, beauty and possibilities of campus life. So I design a ball of constantly changing colors, it representing the rich campus life and wonderful activities are in this app, also representing the diversity and more possibilities of each relationship.

Account Registration page: We can see you need Student ID number for register, it make sure all the users are enrolled students. All the personal information you can choose to hide from other users.

Home page:

- Home page have many activities and events for you to check and select.

Solved a pain point: Many students don't even know any campus activities, they can easily get latest information about the events in campus if they have this app. Without the App students need to find information in website or read long email.

- If you don't have friends to participate in the event with you, it is ok, as long as you select the activities you are interested in on the App, the system will automatically match you with students who are also interested in the same activities.

Solved a pain point: The single way of making friends on SU campus will gone, with help of this App we believe you can easily build connection with others at campus.

After clicking on the activity you are interested in, a page appears where you can use filter to set the basic profile of the students you want to match up with, including gender, age, major and time of meeting.

Solved a pain point: Students can easily selected an event that is convenient enough for them (for example convenient time or location).

Matching page:

After clicking on the "Find you partner!" button you will get a partner according to you need, you can click head portrait to browse the information.

Chatting page:

Limited-time chat encourages students to connect with each other in specific activities they choose.

Solved a pain point: Limit students' online chat time, encourage students to experience more activities and increase connection in real world instead of online chatting.

Random Pair page:

We hope by adding Random Pair function can bring fun and surprise to the students, after all random location, unknown time and event sounds like exciting, and you still can use filter to the people you will match up with.

You also can add you new plan in the App schedule to remind your events, location, time and the people you have paired with.

Poster:

I also plan to put up the poster in campus with the highest traffic, and hold a seminar to discuss the user experience.

USABILITY TESTING & RESULT

We asked 10 people to use our App. They all found the App is very useful and easy to use. They like the random pair function and can't wait to use it. They also said they never know there are so many events on campus, with help of this App they can enjoy the campus life more conveniently.


Conclusion

At first place it seem our App is similar as other dating App, but truth is by doing the research we really understand the needs and feeling of students and campus resources usage, so our App is a great adhesive between the students and students, students and campus resources. It can encourages really interaction and communication in the campus.

We believe there are same situations (lack of connection between students, loneliness,etc) in other universities, and we think this App is easy to copy and can be applied to other universities and institutions, I think it can benefit hundreds and thousands students all over the country, help them to get rid of the loneliness and make connection and better achieve their academic goal.