Mentoring can be a great way to share knowledge and help someone be successful in their personal or professional life. But many potential mentors are often too busy to commit to regular meetings, or they have a hard time connecting with people seeking help. Design an experience where prospective mentors and mentees can be matched, based on similar interests, location, and availability. Show your process and how you arrived at your solution. Please include a sequence of high-fidelity mocks from your design solution.
🔠 Define 'Mentorship'
The word 'mentorship' has a very broad definition and people have different interpretations as well. There are mentors who are assigned at a workspace to help new-comers get used to the environment quickly, mentors who charge on revising personal statement for college applications, as well as mentors who help with technical issues at Hackthon.
'Mentorship' in this case study refers to voluntary, professional-oriented, long-term guidance from someone who is more experienced to someone who is less experienced.
📝 User Interview
"I am very lucky to have mentors who have never worked with me such my neighbors. Most of people have mentors through company or university assignment. It will be helpful to have a place to find mentors outside my circle who have the initiatives to help and willing to spend time."
"Sometimes I need to check the background of mentees through their Linkedin and resume to know more about them. Also, it is helpful to know what mentees are looking for so that I can provide more meaningful advice."
"I knew my mentor through Linkedin search. He is an alumni working in the company that I am very interested in. I contacted him through his company email, and scheduled our first coffee chat. It will be nice to finish these things at one place."
"It is hard to keep the mentorship active in long term. For example, when you don't have specific questions, but still want to keep in touch with a mentor. It is awkward to contact the person again to ask something after one year."
🔍 Finding the Problem
Where to find a mentor
Most of the time people know their mentors because the company or school assigned them one. The
experience that mentors share the mistakes they have done and how they went through hard situations is precious for the growth of mentees. Therefore, it is helpful to make mentors who are willing to help visible
so that mentees can seek help outside their company or school.
To match with the right mentor
When looking for mentors, people prefer those who have similar career path but are several years
senior. However, to keep a long-term mentorship, it is important to have similar core values and personality
match. Mentees are looking for not only someone they can learn from professionally, but
someone who are trustworthy, reliable, open, honest, and available to talk.
To make the mentoring efficient
From the user research, mentors are able to give more meaningful guidance if they know the background of mentees and what they are trying to get advice on. Although mentorship doesn't need to be limited to
specific questions eventually, it is helpful to have a clear goal, and keep mentors and mentees on the same
To stay in long-term mentorship
A lot of the time mentees find it difficult to keep the mentorship active when they have got their questions answered. Although they still want to stay in the mentorship, they don't know how to keep in touch with
mentors. Therefore, it is important to match mentors and mentees on personality level so that they
can share not only professional experience but life guidance. Also, it is helpful to encourage mentors and
mentees do check-ins frequently and continuously.
👥 Define Users
- Mentees: College students and recent graduates
College students and recent graduates need career advice such as whether to do further study or to start working directly, how to negotiate offers. Having limited working experience, they need mentors to explain the pros and cons of each option to decide what they want.
- Mentees: Experienced employees seeking for career change
For experienced employees, they are looking for insightful advice to make a solid decision, such as whether to quit a big company and start their own business. Mentors can teach them how to identify the opportunities and potential risk, and help them see a bigger picture.
- Mentors: Spontaneous mentors (Not through company or school assignment)
There are many people who benefit from mentorship and want to give back to the community, so they become mentors. Also, there are people who initiate to share their experience and help younger people to grow. It is important to make mentors visible to mentees who need help.
🔗 Assumptions and Constraints
- Mentorship starts with online messaging first, and may lead to a physical meetup.
I am assuming that some of the mentorship can be done by messaging, such as Q&A. When messaging is not enough, mentors and mentees schedule for a physical meetup, such as for mockup interview.
- Focus on connecting mentors and mentees.
There are many aspects to facilitate mentorship, such as dashboard to track how the mentorship goes. However, due to the time limit, I am focusing on connecting mentors and mentees.
- Mobile first
Looking for mentors or mentees to connect doesn't require a dedicated time in front of desktop, so I decided to build a mobile app first so that users can look for connections on the go.
🔐 Solving the Problem
Keeping these things in mind, I decided the following mission statement.
Connect mentees with the right mentors.
This will be achieved through these three goals:
1. Find the best match between mentors and mentees.
2. Promote efficient mentorship.
3. Help the mentorship last in long term.
Knowing what we want to achieve, now I started designing the solution.
From the phases above, I brainstormed the features that can help with the problems.
- Show the mentor's personality through reviews from other mentees.
- Guide mentees to write clear messages about what they are looking for.
- Prompt to catch up with mentors after a while.
- Suggest opening to help mentees talk with mentors again.
➡️ User Flow
Based on the previous steps, it is very clear what are the necessary features, actions, and information. Thus, I jumped straight into mapping out the user flow, questioning and making revisions, until it is logical.
To allow mentees to get started quickly, they sign up with only basic information such as name, occupation, company. They can choose whether to create a complete profile or skip for now. Based on what they need help on and their expected experience level for mentors, we recommend mentors that may help.
Based on the answers, we recommends mentors based on mentor's experiences, skills, and location. Mentees can send a message to the mentor. To avoid spam and help mentors to learn about mentee's background, mentees are required to complete their profiles before sending a message to mentor. If the mentor feels he can help, they can start the conversation.
If mentees don't get enough help from messaging, they can also propose a meetup with the mentor after checking their availability. If the mentor accepts the invitation, mentors and mentees both can add the appointment to calendar and get notification before the meetup.
After mentees get mentoring through messaging or meetups, they can review the experience to help other mentees find a good match. Since a mentorship is long - term experience, mentees can review every time they receive help. The system also reminds mentees to catch up with the mentor after a while to help maintain a long-term mentorship.
Mentors are required to complete their profiles to use the product. Since the meetup is usually scheduled in the future, we need them to enter areas convenient for them (Midtown Manhattan, Mountain View etc) instead of taking real-time location. Mentors often have busy schedule. Allowing synchronize from calendars make it easier to communicate their availability when mentees propose a meetup.
Mentors may receive a lot of messages from different mentees. They can read the messages and reply to those they can help.
Mentors can check meetup proposed by mentees and decide whether to accept the invitation.
Mentees may give reviews to mentors. Mentors should have the right to decide whether to display the review on their profile if it shows mentor's personality or skills, or to hide the review if the bad review is due to not-so-perfect match of personality or skills.
Since we don't have a lot of top-level views, I opted for mentee side bottom navigation bar of 3 views:
- Me ( my meetup appointments and my profile)
Each tab represents a cycle towards forming a mentorship. As users achieving user goal #1 to #3, they move from left to right through the navigation.
The landing screen is an opportunity for branding and enhancing the value proposition - to connect mentors and mentees for professional guidance. Also, it explains why users need to go through the onboarding questions.
The onboardng question screens are designed in a conversational way with a minimal layout. This aims to enable users to glance over and make decisions quickly. The progress bar gives users an overview how many more steps they need to go through.
Since what mentees look for help can be very broad, making multiple selections from lengthy list can be very tedious. If engineering resources permit, it will be more efficient for users to enter their issues in several words. Then NLP (Natural Language Processing) technology can help find the right mentors.
When users make a selection, it goes to the next question automatically to minimize user action. Users can swipe right or tap the left arrow to go back to previous question to make changes.
The processing screen shows a loading animation for several seconds before displaying the mentor matching result. This waiting time is necessary. It creates a feeling that we are working hard to provide a good match so that users feel worthy spending time answering the questions.
The mentor match result is shown in a list view with cards consisting of mentor's photo, name, title, company, and strength. Name and photo help build a connection and increase the trustworthiness. Title, company, and strength provide a quick overview of mentor's professional experiences so that mentees can quickly decide if they want to know more about this mentor.
The full profile provides detailed information for mentees to evaluate if it is a good match. Message button is put on top to remind users the next step, and make decisions as they read through the profile. Mentorship that lasts long usually requires mentor and mentee to be matched at personality level. Reviews from other mentees show mentor's personality, and potentially build lasting relationship.
If mentees decide to message the mentor, a pop-up shows up. I opted to use a pop-up instead of a new window because a pop-up makes it easy to continue checking other mentors' profile after sending a message. A clear message helps mentors to decide whether or not to go with the mentorship, while messages that are too long can drive mentors away. The placeholder in the message box suggests how to write a clear message, while the size of the message box prevents mentees from writing too long and detailed.
If mentees and mentors want to have an in-person mentoring after messaging, they can schedule a meetup. Since mentors usually have busy schedule, I opted to use calendar which is synchronized with users' calendar to show the availability for both mentor and mentee. I decided to integrate map instead of enter an address manually because it reduces misunderstanding. If mentor accepts the invitation, they can add the appointment to calendar and get notification before the meetup.
After mentee receives mentoring (e.g. the next day), they are invited to review the mentor. After a while (e.g. one month), mentees are invited to catch up with the mentor such as greetings or updates. To help open up the conversation, the bot or Smart Compose can suggest some openings. This helps mentors and mentees to maintain a long-term relationship.
🎨 High Fidelity
As we are focusing on the professional mentorship, I opted to use blue as the primary color to create a professional, calm, mature feeling.
At this moment, users want to get through the setup and start using the app as soon as possible. Therefore, a minimal layout with only content helps users to scan quickly.
When users make a selection, it goes to the next question automatically to reduce user action.
To go back to previous question, users can either swipe or tap on the back button.
• • •
Mentor List & Profile
In the mentor list view, I used a card format to group text and image.
In the profile view, I used section color, breaking line, different font size and color to group information and create visual hierarchy.
MESSAGE button is put on top to drive user action as mentees read through mentor profile.
• • •
From the messaging view, mentees can start to schedule a meetup with the mentor. I was inspired by the 'Find a Time' feature from Google Calendar for Android, which the machine helps find an availability automatically. Therefore, after users set the duration and date, they can choose from the one of the suggested time slots. Also, I opted to use map to set location instead of manual input to reduce misunderstanding.
I use the highlighting color and disable states to lead user action step by step.
• • •
Catch up with mentors with AI assistance
Mentees are encouraged to catch up with mentors. To help open up conversation, we can integrate Smart Compose to assist mentees to write a message.
👩🏻🏫 Mentor Side
Wireframe & High Fidelity
Most screens for the mentor side are very similar to the mentee side. Due to the time limit, I only focused on the mentor home screen which is very different from the mentee side.
For mentor side, checking incoming messages and meetup invitations is important. Therefore, bottom navigation bar for mentor side consists of:
- Incoming (messages, meetup invitations, reviews)
- Me (my profile, upcoming appointments)
Since the incomings have different categories, the Filter dropdown allows mentors to check a certain type of incomings (All, Messages, Meetup Invitations, Reviews). The Sort dropdown allows mentors to sort by time, or by relevance (prioritize incomings from mentees who the mentor has already given a lot of mentorship to).
With each incoming, mentors can take different actions. The button styles create a hierarchy to highlight more important actions.
When mentors tap on the meetup invitation, it goes to a new screen, and shows the details about the meetup with calendar view and map view. It shows mentors how the invitation will fit in their schedule in a straightforward way.
It is a challenging but meaningful experience to design within a tight timeframe. It is very important to set constraints and assumptions when I don't have time to do a deep and comprehensive research.
For future steps, I plan to conduct more user research and usability testing to backup my assumptions, and to customize towards user needs. Also, I would like to take more consideration on how the app will fit in the ecosystem, such as how users synchronize their calendars and complete their profile.
Thanks for reading!
Google Design Challenge