Design Exercise: Mentor Connection

Understanding the problem:

Based on early conversations with my friends, families and colleagues, it was clear that there are a lot of people looking to be guided by experienced folks. But there were still a couple of unanswered questions,

  1. Who is looking for mentorship? Who will mentor?
  2. Does it happen already? If it does how do mentors & mentees get in touch with each other?
  3. Are there experienced folks in the industry who are willing to help others and spare time for them?
  4. Why do they need mentorship? Are they not able to get these learnings online?
  5. What exactly are folks looking for when we say mentorship?

Research:

To begin with, I broke down the brief itself. I took notes based on the preliminary conversations I had with my friends & colleagues.

I spent some time reading blogs, forums, reviews on Appstore/Playstore & other websites where people were talking about their challenges & success stories. Then I took note of all assumptions, what worked & what didn't, open questions and listed down the possible set of users for both mentors & mentees.

Initial Brainstorming

I resorted to two quick research methodologies:

  1. Survey: I sent out a survey to college students, working professionals & parents. I intentionally kept the survey questions very open-ended as I did not want the questions to be leading or biased in any form.
Snapshot of the survey sent out to users.

2. One on Ones: I then set up One on Ones with a few of these folks via phone call to understand their input & to get to know them better.

Jotting down research highlights:

Research Highlights

Top highlights:

  1. Timing adherence & mismatch is a major point of friction for both mentors & mentees.
  2. The mentees reach out to the mentors using Linkedin, events or through a common acquaintance.
  3. Many of the mentors have had a few negative experiences in the past. Due to which they are specifically looking for sincere, diligent and punctual mentees.

4. Young professionals & especially students are hesitant to reach out to experienced people.

5. They don’t know whom, how & where to approach these professionals.

6. All of them mentioned they have never used any platform that helps them connect with each other & would love to be a part of such a community.

Persona - Mentor:

Persona - Mentees:

Empathy Map for the Mentor/Mentee:

Left — Mentor | Right — Mentee

Redefined Brief:

Keeping these things in mind, I decided on the following.

To build a platform, where a mentee gets the appropriate guidance they need.

This can be achieved when

  1. We help mentees get in touch with the right mentors.
  2. Both mentors & mentees are equally invested in this process.
  3. There is mutual respect & adherence to time.
  4. There is a strong sense of belonging to the community.

What will form the core of this product?

Trust: The mentor & the mentee needs to trust & believe in one another. The mentor & mentee should have enough information about each other to build this trust.

Quality: The mentor & mentee are both looking for the right match for each other. It is crucial for us to help mentees get in touch with mentors with relevant knowledge & experience.

Value for time: It is crucial to building adherence to time. Both mentor & mentee should understand that each individual is contributing their valuable time into this.

Closure: To build a sense of closure for actions performed. This will help mentors & mentees get concrete feedback. This can be used to bring a sense of gratification within the platform.

The tone of voice: It's a platform to build community so the communication should focus on gratefulness and togetherness. For a mentee, the tone can be casual & friendly and for a mentor, it should be more professional & formal.

Notifications: Timely nudges & notifications to ensure mentors & mentees do not miss out on their updates and help maintain adherence to time.

Designing the flow:

While talking to the interviewees, it was clear that they were looking for people who they can connect with from anywhere across the globe, build a bond, get on a call with them & start discussing. They were not looking for a platform where they can learn new software or complete a course. There are products available today that provide them with a good amount of training material.

They were looking for a platform where they can have one on ones & open discussions to get instant & more practical feedback. This platform could be a mobile app as they could access it at their comfortable space & time.

Flow Diagram
Low Fidelity Wireframes

Build trust & respect for each other:

One of the interesting challenges was to build trust & respect within the platform. One way that has worked for apps who try to build behaviour is the carrot & stick approach. Incentivise good behaviour & penalise bad.

Ideas on Building Trust & Respect

For the MVP, I introduced the concept of Trust Score. Both mentors & mentees start off with a base trust score & they keep earning or losing them throughout their journey. Adherence to time, timely feedback would earn them more score whereas no shows, multiple cancellations and rescheduling would make them lose this score.

In future, this could translate into awards, recognitions, tiers & a leaderboard based system to gamify it even further.

This ensures that both the mentors & mentees are emotionally invested which helps build trust & adherence to time.

To build a sense of commitment within the community, the mentor & the mentee promise to help each other grow in a strong & positive manner by agreeing to a pledge during onboarding.

Chat

Ensure Quality:

To ensure the mentors & mentees are completely invested into this, we will ask them a couple of questions regarding their interests, goals and requirements during onboarding.

This questionnaire would also help us create a match score which can ensure that we connect the right mentor & mentee with each other.

I would have worked with a content strategist to come up with the communication and a set of questions for different fields.

Onboarding

‘Save & Exit’ will save their feedback & take them to the home page where they will be able to view a list of mentors/mentees. But there will always be a banner reminding to complete the questionnaire in order to improve their trust score.

Mentors can sync their calendars which will be made visible to mentees to book free slots, once connected.

Building a feedback system:

The research showed that people here are investing their time & emotions into their mentorship. To make it feel non-transactional, the mentor & mentee can endorse each other instead of a rating system.

To introduce gratification, the mentor/mentee will be nudged to appreciate each other for their time & effort.

Followup & Feedback

Mentor Flow:

For the mentor, the single most important functionality on the app is to connect & chat with mentees. Keeping this in mind, the homepage will include:

  1. Chat: This would be the default view every time the app loads. If they have not completed the questionnaire, they will always be nudged to complete it before going ahead. This is important as we would match the mentees based on the answers they provide. Any upcoming & incoming requests would also be shown here.
  2. Notifications: All incoming requests & nudges will lie here.
  3. Profile: Any profile details, option to switch to mentee profile or the options to change answers will be possible using this tab.
  4. Trust Score: This will always show the mentors Trust Score and explain how they can earn or lose points.

Mentor Prototype: Link here

Mentee Flow:

I had two approaches while designing the mentee home page. One approach was to show a list of mentors to choose from and the other approach was to display each mentor as a card. I chose to go ahead with the latter.

The core of the product is quality which meant that the idea here is to not give a long list of results but instead to give limited but relevant choices. The mentees can swipe right to accept, left to reject & swipe up to move on to the next one. A card view provides space to give more details about the mentors.

The mentee flow will include:

  1. Home: This would be the default view every time the app loads. If the mentees have not completed the questionnaire, they will always be nudged to complete it before going ahead. This is important as we would match them with mentors based on the answers they provide. Mentor profiles and meeting requests will also appear here.
  2. Library Mode: In order to help mentees even further and increase engagement while they wait for mentors to accept their request, they will have an option to switch to Library mode. This can be a repository of curated content which will be in context to what they are seeking mentorship for.

The app will also have an option to chat with mentors, view requests & reminders, edit profile & view their trust score details.

Mentee Prototype: Link here

Review Wireframes:

I did a quick 30 min review with a few of my friends & relatives for both the mentor & mentee flow. Based on that, I received few feedbacks mainly for copy, which I didn’t focus much on for this demo which I should have. Other feedback included more details around the pledge, clarity around trust score, for the mentor — an option to call out if they are unavailable for the next few days/weeks, option to view their calendar, more clarity on feedback and reduce trust score for too many declines/expiries as well. Location matters for folks in the field of law/medicine.

I incorporated a few of these feedbacks & then move on to work on the visuals.

Visuals:

Login
Onboarding
Mentee — Discovery

The mentee will be shown a limited set of cards to ensure quality & focus. The list would start with the top match with the highest match percentage.

We can limit the number of requests a mentee can send in a day. This can ensure that they don’t misuse the platform and the mentor is not flooded with requests. We can also have an expiration date to all requests sent to mentors so that the mentees quickly get closure for their requests sent.

Mentee Flow

Each card shows a summary of the mentor’s job profile, experience and specialisation. It also highlights their trust score. After gaining enough feedback from mentees, the top skills endorsed by the mentees can also be shown on the card summary. Tapping on the card will open more details about the mentor.

Mentor Flow

Success Metrics:

Few L0 metrics to track here could be:

  1. CX Index: This can be measured by keeping a track CSAT & NPS. Referrals will also play a key role here.
  2. Percentage of active users visiting the product at least once a week.
  3. Keeping a track of WAU/MAU and their weekly retention rate is extremely important to ensure we meet supply with demand.
  4. Meaningful interactions (Task completion rate): This can be measured using feedback post every conversation between mentor and mentee.
  5. Average trust score the mentors & the mentees are able to maintain.
  6. Drop off rate during onboarding.
  7. Avg session length - How much time do the mentor & mentee spend interacting with one another.

Conclusion:

I truly enjoyed working on the exercise. With this exercise, I was able to showcase a broad level of my skill set. In future, this platform can be scaled to one mentor for multiple mentees as well and for larger organisations. The mentor & mentee could have the option to take notes & keep track of their progress. We could even help mentors plan for their mentorship.

There are a lot of people who are in need of guidance & this exercise helped me shed some light on that. I really do hope that such a platform gets build to help connect those in need with the ones who are willing to help.

Credits: Images-Unsplash • Icons-Material Design, Those Icons• Illustrations-Pablo Stanley’s Open Peeps & control.rocks • Logos-Freepik

Softwares used: Figma • Principle • Sketch • Typeform • Lookback

Thanks to everyone who filled out the survey and spent the time to speak to me during these difficult & unprecedented times.

Thanks for reading!

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