EMILY CHAN

WORK RESUME OTHER PROJECTS ABOUT

PROJECT TEAM

Research Connect

Reinventing the way undergraduates find research opportunities.

DURATION
February 2018 to Present (Ongoing Project)

CURRENT TEAM
Emily Chan, Aram Baghdassarian (PM), Ayesha Gaggaturi (Dev), Phillip Kheyfets (Dev), Connie Lei (Dev), Laura Sizemore (Dev), Andrew Xiao (Dev)

FOCUS
Product Thinking, User Experience Design, User Research, Visual Design

TOOLS
Sketch, inVision, Illustrator

In Spring 2018, I was recruited onto the Cornell Design & Tech Initiative project team. I joined a team of 7 on the Research Connect subteam in its second semester to conduct user research and design a website that allows students to find research opportunities on campus. During my first semester, I worked with co-designer Michael Huang but now I lead the subteam's design decisions.

THE PROBLEM

Many students at Cornell want to get involved in research, but there is no standardized way to apply for opportunities. Though it’s common practice at many research universities for students to just cold email professors/lab administrators, it is inefficient for both professors and students. With Research Connect, we wondered:

How might we make the process of being involved in undergraduate research as easy as possible for students and professors?

THE SOLUTION

Create a website that allows students to easily search for and apply to research opportunities and allows professors to post those opportunities and review those applications.

Though this platform has two user sets: students and professors, this case study will focus on the student-facing user interface and experience.

Research

USER RESEARCH

Over the course of two weeks, 2 other team members and I conducted user interviews with 18 undergrads at Cornell who were already involved in part-time lab research in their respective fields. From these interviews, our goals were to understand:

  1. How students currently find research positions.
  2. What pain points were experienced in this process.
  3. What students' wants and needs were in terms of choosing a lab.
Instead of doing our initial user research with freshmen and potential users of our product who have never applied for research positions, we turned to students who already have gone throught the process because they could offer more insight. We turned to underclassmen for our user testing sessions later in the design process.

We consolidated our interview findings into an affinity diagram as shown below.

A small glimpse of our very large affinity diagram on RealtimeBoard.

To better understand the trends and common pain points in the students' stories, I created a journey map.

From this research, I learned the following key takeaways:

USER FLOW

Now that we better understood the problem, we could hone in on the features we wanted to include in our product. Our research helped us focus in these 3 most significant points in the user journey:

  1. Finding Opportunities
    Before even applying to a lab, how does a student know exactly what that lab specializes in? What kind of responsibilities their research assistants have? What the lab environment is like? etc.
  2. Applying for Opportunities
    Once a student finds a lab they're interested in, how do they formally show interest in the position?
  3. Getting Connected with Faculty
    After a student applies for a position, how does the application get in front of the professor of lab administrator? How do they receive their acceptance, rejection, or interview offer?

Michael created the following site map to guide our brainstorming. For each step in the user flow, we divided the work and created screens for each flow.

Final Design Solution

After a few weeks of back and forth critique, these were the final outcomes of this project.

LANDING PAGE

BROWSE OPPORTUNITIES PAGE

SINGLE OPPORTUNITY PAGE

WALKTHROUGH

Reflection

This was the first web-based project I designed for. As a freshmen, I learned so much from my peers especially from my co-designer. It was so rewarding to see the user research be applied to the final design and I look forward to continually improving the platform in the coming semesters. Next semester, we are going to focus our efforts on designing the platform to suit professor's needs and making their interface as intuitive as possible. Overall, this team has been crucial in teaching me how to work with an interdisciplinary team on an impactuful, agile product.

Thanks for checking out this case study! Here are some of my other projects:

UX INTERNSHIP

CariClub Events

An event and volunteering opportunity finder for CariClub, the first professional networking platform for social good.

UX INTERNSHIP

Mira Financial Quotes Page

A search-and-compare tool that helps people find life insurance policies.

PROJECT TEAM

Research Connect

A web platform that connects students and professors for undergrad research opportunities.