Hanieh Kaheli
Project:  StudyBuddy
Role: User researcher, UX Designer, UI Designer
My goal for this project, was to provide the students of online universities an integrated platform where they can find study partners for themselves. The lack of such platforms in this day and age where universities are getting more and more online is an issue for students. They have to waste a huge amount of their time searching to find someone that matches their schedule and experience requirements.
Key Challenges
I wanted this platform to be fully integrated into the university system as to provide a seamless experience for students. But this meant that I have to tackle several challenges. I will describe them in short here:
Each student and major has a specific set of requirements when it comes to finding a study partner, so finding a balance for the amount of options and filters was a challenging design decision for me.
Apart from the technical part of integrating with the university database, the look and feel of the platform also had to match the university portal not to produce a design that was out of place when visited by the students.
To provide students with a nice overview of their schedule including the lecture timetable and the studying, I opted to design an informative calendar view. Designing it both in terms of UX and UI posed a nice challenge for me.
Design kickoff
To kickoff the design, I had to understand my users, which were university students. To do so, by applying an empathy-based design process, I started with the interviews.
I could perform a friendly interview with 3 university students. Gather valuable insights from them and understand their needs and pain points. They told me stories of times when they had to find a study partner and I asked questions like:
"Is finding a study partner easy for you?"
"Describe the last time you wanted to find a study partner"
"What would you expect from a platform that would help you find a study partner?"
By going over my notes, I had an empathy map of my user group clearly in my mind.
Meet Sara, a busy architecture student, who wants to find a suitable study partner to manage her time and improve her studies.
The persona provided a lot of insights into the user journey. I created a user journey to better visualize the user experience and their feeling.
Early design
The design process of the actual website, started with simple wireframe which then in turn was transformed into a low fidelity prototype. During this design, I complemented my design along with the design of the University of Utrecht to achieve a look and feel of an integrated platform.

The design would include a homepage which acts as a landing page for the users, describing the service. This landing page would act as the beginning for the 2 main scenarios:
Finding a study partner, which brings the user to a list page where they have access to a set of filters to find the perfect study partner and send them a message along with the request.
Creating a listing or an ad, which guides the users through simple steps to create the best suitable request.
The requester has to select a topic, the level and a time for the study session. Some of the information here are gathered via the university integration.

In addition, a profile page is designed, to help users review the status of their requests and view an overview of their schedule and timetable. I have also included some major changes to the design in this iteration and provided the Figma link for your better view.
View Low Fidelity Prototype on Adobe XD
Usability study
2 rounds of usability studies were performed to measure the design and gather improvement points. These studies helped me better tune the UX and UI aspects of the design in several ways.
Users wanted export functionality of the calendar view to popular formats such as ICal.
Users wanted more descriptive labels for level requirement.
Users wanted to have more control over the filters so they query the specific date for their study partner search.
The Final design
I was able to combine the result of iterations of the design with the improvements that was the outcome of usability studies into the final design that I share below.
View Desktop High Fidelity Prototype on Adobe XD
View Mobile High Fidelity Prototype on Figma
Final Notes
Because of the pandemic that changed the world, a lot of problems that were solved by traditional ways needed a new and refreshed solution. The human factor in an online setting for a university is reduced to almost none. That's why the design of this solution for students to find help and offer help for studying to each other was a joy for me. Interviewing excited students gave me more energy to finalize the design and getting feedback from them meant a lot to me.

This project thought me the value of human factor in design and how important it is to know your users. This will let you experience as your user and gives you immense and true insights.
Process Deck