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Project Type

Academic

Duration

Oct - Dec, 2020

Team

Team of 3

My Role

UX Research, Prototyping, Participant Recruitment, Usability Testing, UI Design and Study Report 

Overview

Overview

Comfyhead helps you stay connected with your peers no matter what software you use to communicate. Express yourself beyond “LOL”s with real-time facial expressions and give yourself a mental health break by keeping your camera off while still being able to show a smile with your avatar. Comfyhead keeps you comfortably connected, while also adding some much needed whimsy back in your life.

Design Problem

Although we have many ways to stay connected with each other, there’s still a massive disconnect between people. We are looking to bridge the gap between people as they are looking to connect, allowing people to passively understand each other’s comfort level, but also know when to reach out.  We want to develop a product for people to understand how their peers are doing and when they can feel comfortable reaching out to others or be reached out to themselves.

Process

Research

User Research

>>

Define

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Ideate

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Design

Test

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User Research

To understand how we can help students feel comfortably connected, we first conducted user research to identify problem areas and space for improvements in the lives of professors, students, and advisors.

Surveys

27 Responses from students engaging in online education

Interviews

12 Interviews
7 Students
4 Faculty
1 Student Advisor

Ethnographic Field Study

2 Students

Surveys

Since our primary stakeholders are students, we knew we had a huge group of people to gain knowledge from, namely our peers. We believed the best method to get specific answers and data to our questions without using too much of our time and that of our research participants was to release an online Google Form survey.

  1. “Comfortably Connected” - Our survey

  2. “College students emotional well-being” - Fellow students' survey

Interviews

We took 12 semi-structured online interviews consisting of students doing remote learning, advisors interacted with such students and professors taking remote classes. The link to the detailed findings can be found at the link:  Interview Data

Ethnographic Field Study

Apart from surveys and interviews, we conducted field studies to find out how students are customizing workspaces to fit their needs. We went to the student’s workspace to observe their studying habits, behavior and environment. We took detailed notes of the happenings throughout the day and compiled some key observations. 

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Key Findings

From all of our research methods, we narrowed down onto a few key insights

Define

Students feel uncomfortable turning their web camera on through the lectures

Without visual cues, students and faculty are unable to gauge each others comfort levels

Students hesitate to reach out to professors and classmates for casual conversations

Define

After research, common patterns and behavior trends are identified. These findings are then used to further guide the design process.

Refined Design Questions

After our user research, we further refined our design question with the hopes of it leading us towards building a product:

  • How can students understand each other’s comfort level?

  • How can we understand the boundaries of students connected remotely?

  • How to be respectful of a student's personal space and academic space?

Personas

Through our research, we have created three user personas that represent the motivations and pain points of our stakeholders.

Design Goals

Our research and persona creation allowed us to come up with specific design goals that we hoped to accomplish with our design solution. At this point we kept intentionally wanted to have a wide range so that we could ensure to keep all answers from our user research in mind while addressing problems and interesting points we had previously identified. We selected four most important ones from them.

Ideate
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The solution should send signals to others whether the student is focusing on personal or academic life

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The solution should inform about their comfort level in terms of open for communication

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The solution should encourage all students to actively participate in class, in spite of being at different comfort levels at their homes

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The solution should encourage interactions between remotely connected students

Ideate

Based on key pain points of the defined personas, brainstorming is done to solve their problems. Features are devised keeping in mind the motivations and  goals of potential users.

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Proposed Solution

We believe that using avatars to replace your face during video calls or to supplement your text chats can greatly benefit the emotional and social interaction between people. For this, we would want to use Apple's already existing avatar system, Memojis. This takes advantage of an already existing design language that is familiar and easily understandable by people.

Use Case Scenarios

With the above created design goals and proposed solution idea, we created some use case scenarios on how we imagined our personas to interact with the product solution we came up with. We did this by creating comic-like storyboards to help illustrate our points and bring our personas to life in real scenarios. 

Comfyhead in Slack

Comfyhead in Zoom

User Flows

There are several user flows illustrated below, ranging from the High-level over, to the Comfyhead software, to two example “linked” software.