According to Natural Biotechnology, from a total of 2,279 students (90% Ph.D. students) 41% of respondents showed signs of moderate to severe depression.
Build a peer-to-peer connection app for Ph.D. students; share personal and academic interests to foster deep connections and reduce loneliness.
User Research—Discover Problems
After me and two of other teammates decided to focus our study on Ph.D. students, we sent out a screener survey (using the UCLA Loneliness Scale questionnaire) to recruit the appropriate participants for our interview and diary study.
We recruited a total of six participants, among whom five expressed "moderate to high" loneliness, and one expressed low loneliness measured by data from the screener survey. We covered these 8 categories during the interview:
After the semi-structured interviews, we wanted to go deeper and learn about Ph.D. students’ day-to-day lives and how it would affect their emotions. As part of the Diary Study, we asked our participants to take pictures or notes of surroundings, artifacts, persons, or mobile-screenshots (or anything else) that affected their emotional state at least once per day.
We collected quantitative (screener survey) and qualitative data (interview and diary study) about Ph.D. students from various departments. We built and used a pivot table and an affinity diagram to organize and synthesize our findings.
Personas (fictional users whose goals and characteristics represent the needs of our target users) were developed to communicate our findings with our project stakeholders.
Solution Ideation—Develop Ideas
“How can we improve the quality of connections Ph.D. students have?”
1. We first chose the “Connection app” idea to be our solution. We envisioned that the solution would encourage Ph.D. students to build deeper connections and share inner feelings with their close friends and family.
Screen Designs—Deliver Solution
We built IA to organize the structure of the app in a more effective way and communicate the possible user flow better within the team.
The style guide was built to maintain a consistent design while each designer built different screens.
High Fidelity Screens
Reflection and Next Step
The biggest take away from this project was the importance of validating the idea with the user at every stage. Our next step is to test our high-fi prototype, validate conceptual assumptions and fix usability issues, and validate the need for a Ph.D. Community feature for Pair.