Case Study

PLAPP

// A career development app

THE CHALLENGE

Timeline: 5 weeks (March-April 2020)

Project Type: Design Challenge, Case Study, Mobile App

My Role: Product Designer, UX Designer

Team: 4 People

The mobile app Plapp is my first UX group project at Flatiron School. My team was assigned to design a product for public libraries allowing patrons to have access to library sources and improve skills in order to find employment. We consider public libraries as our main client. Library staff, supporting subject matter experts, patrons, and community influencers are all stakeholders for the product.

Design Goal

To design a product that will strengthen the library’s relationship with the community it serves. Public library is considered to be an important third-party institution because it takes more functions than just lending out books. The mission and culture of the library is to provide free access to information and services for everyone.

Audience

The audience is given - adults over the age of 22 who match at least one of the following characteristics:

  • They want to enter the workforce or change job sectors
  • They are seeking advanced training for their current jobs
  • They require access to resources and training to supplement or compliment their education
  • They want to start their own company or business project
  • Their current job is being impacted by, or at risk of disruption by, new technology or automation

The solution must come from the research we conduct and be specific to the needs of the users we interview. To get started, we need to consider:

  • How can the library help improve patrons' skills and help them find employment?
  • How can it be a resource to prepare young people for a new labor market?

SOLUTION

After the team project finished, I decided to iterate some minor areas and make the high-fidelity prototype. This is the user story using the app Plapp:

James is tired of the repetitive work and wants to be a graphic designer that he can use his creativity. He enrolls in free Graphic Design online courses offered by public library. It allows him to learn new skills at his own pace.

James downloads two e-books from the public library to get a head start. He can’t wait to learn new knowledge.

James signs up for a networking event in order to know more people.

James has developed graphic design-related skills and has completed several projects in his graphic design class. He starts job search & application process.

James receives an interview invitation from his dream company. However, he feels unprepared to job interviews. He signs up an interview prep workshop and practices at home. The interview turns out with a good result, and James successfully gets his dream offer!

APPROACH

Our team followed a user-centered discovery process. Since we are not familiar with the public libraries, we decided to conduct an exploratory research and then use synthesis methods to find insights. We practiced ideation and brainstorming sessions to identify key flows and information architecture of the solution. Finally we tested our solution and made iteration.

DISCOVERIES

Competitive Analysis

The direct competitors we chose are learning platforms that are mostly self-paced, online and have a low cost. They are mostly used by post-college young adults who want to further develop their skills in the field they work in, as well as learn a different skillset that could be related to their careers.

The indirect competitors are popular job search / networking platforms for both hiring companies and jobseekers. They are mainly used by job seekers to compare salaries, get company information, read reviews from current and former employees. In terms of resource and skill training, LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Indeed have some helpful articles about polishing resume and interview prep. However, jobseekers can barely gain professional education / training resources from these indirect competitors.

SME & User Interviews

In order to understand how career help of public libraries works, we went to different public libraries in New York and conducted 4 SME interviews with librarians and staffs at career center. Also, each team member conducted 2 user interviews ( total 8 interviews) with people who matched the characteristics of our target audience to learn more about the mindset and need of users.

Persona

IDEATION

Card Sort

To gain a better understanding of potential users' mental models, each team member used card sorting with 1 to 2 participants (total 5). This session helped me understand the best way to organize the information architecture.

Sketch

We conducted 6-8-5 sketching and ruminated on some design directions. Our team decided to use my paper prototype as the template, and each team member choose one task flow to build mid-fidelity wireframes. There will be 5 task flows. Besides of two flows I picked, I also created sign in and home screen.

  • Enroll in an online course
  • Register an event
  • Download an e-book
  • Search job and submit application (My task flow)
  • Sign up for an interview prep workshop (My task flow)

ITERATION

Each team member conducted 1 to 2 usability tests (total 5), and the testing were done mainly with qualitative and some minor quantitative questions. Participants were asked to finish the 5 task flows. As a result, most users had a positive experience and found that buttons, icons, and labels are clear and easy to understand. Flows and transitions are smooth and easy to use. However, there were some confusing moments during the usability test interviews. Thus, we made some iterations to optimize the user experience.

MID-FIDELITY WIREFRAMES