Introducing UW RSO, my project for Google’s Design Challenge

Sneak Peek of Hi Fi Mockups

Welcome to UW RSO, my project for Google’s Design Challenge. This app for Registered Student Organizations (RSO’s) at the University of Washington came about after a quick 7 days of research, ideation, and design. Now that you have a taste for the final product, let’s dive into how I got there.

The Beginning

“Design an experience for new students to browse, search, and propose new student organizations”

I chose the above design prompt for my 7 day design challenge, and, as with anything, I do my best UX work when I have a plan. So, that’s where I started!

Good thing my sketchbook is large, I clearly need the space!

With my plan in place, I started with research. I first talked to a student who created her own RSO this year. The full transcript is here, but these were my takeaways:

  1. Process of creating an RSO
  2. Necessity of non-intimidating experience of starting an RSO, but also of conveying the RSO created will be taken seriously
  3. RSO resources on a centralized location — currently lots of jumping around for information while creating RSO

After that, I talked to an RSO advisor. The full transcript is here, but these were my takeaways:

  1. 910 RSO’s are registered — many have same focus but different niches
  2. Connection to an RSO (or two!) makes the large campus bearable and fun
  3. Vibrancy, sense of belonging, and community should be emotions conveyed by the RSO experience

Adding on to what I learned from my interviews, I did some quick primary research in my sketchbook on the existing website and formed my own takeaways:

  1. Mobile app would probably seem less intimidating than a whole website
  2. RSO’s have websites and social media’s linked — nothing is actually on the platform itself
  3. It is impossible to scroll through 910 RSO’s. How do I find a way to make browsing fun, or find a way to get them all exposure through some other means?
My thoughts, questions, and comments about the existing University of Washington RSO website.

Ideation Begins

With my research completed, I started with compiling the emotions I wanted to convey through my app and the functionalities that I knew my app would need.

Excuse the darkness! The lighting did me no favors.

I then started asking questions. When I was a freshman, why didn’t I join a Registered Student Organization (RSO?) I didn’t because I thought they were all academic related, and I was scared I was adding on too much. I needed to find a way to convey that RSO’s weren’t all academic.

Then I explored the purpose of my app. What would it do once produced, and how would it function in the real world? Perhaps the biggest thing I wanted my app to do was aid (and persuade!) freshman in getting involved around campus. All I needed was a little push to get involved freshman year, but I never got it. I wanted my app to be that push, just a friendly reminder that getting involved is easy.

With my purpose nailed down, I laid out my Information Architecture.

My masterpiece! Also, if you’re reading this, I don’t dot my i’s, so keep that in mind while parsing through my IA.

If you look on the right branch of onboarding, under create username and password, there is a quiz branch (actually it says survey, but it’s more of a quiz). The purpose of my app is to give a little push towards getting involved on campus, and I thought that a personality quiz that matches you with RSO’s akin to your interests was a unique solution. More on this quiz later in wireframes.

If you follow under HOME, under My RSO’s, all the way to the left there is an “in progress” branch. This is where all the RSO’s that are pending membership acceptances go, along with RSO’s that are in the process of being created. Under this branch, there is a step by step on how to register your RSO. I decided to include this feature in my app because I wanted to make creating an RSO less intimidating. With step by step instructions that tell you one thing at a time, it’s not an overwhelming or intimidating experience. More on the “in progress” tab later in wireframes.

Those things mentioned are just a couple of the ideas I had to create a holistic experience — from first opening the app and having no idea where to start, to creating your first RSO in a couple of easy steps.

Moving on to Screens

I next began sketching screens for chunks of my Information Architecture.

My initial ideas for onboarding and the quiz
This part was tricky. It includes the “in progress” screens, which I found difficult to draw out
Multiple home screens. Ideated around having browse as the main menu, or having it be more minimalist

I basically sketched every screen, but those are the highlights. I chose to use a whiteboard instead of paper because I could erase so much easier (and believe me, I did that a lot!). I spent a lot of time on the Home screen because I knew it would contain my key paths and would be used most often. I played with having Browse as the home, and the create and search functions built in, but it just seemed messy! I ultimately opted for the bottom screen. See more in wireframes.

Going with the Flow

With some screen ideas in my head, I moved on to wireframing. I have embedded the most important flows below, but all the screens are here. Take a look!

This flow has the onboarding and quiz. When the user opens the app for the first time they will receive the “tutorial” of the app and the option to take the RSO quiz.

Tutorial Flow
Login flow
Quiz flow

I chose to put one question of the quiz on each screen to keep the design clear and to not overwhelm the user. At the end, I have the husky dog (UW’s mascot) wag its tail for a couple seconds before the results pop up. I chose to lengthen the time because it’s long enough that it’s obvious the system is actually thinking about the results, but not long enough to annoy the user.

This next flow is the browse and search flow. Here, the user navigates through finding RSO’s, filtering, and saving their favorites.

Browse and Search Flow
RSO Profile Flow

I chose to have a “save RSO” option (the star icon), because that enables quick browsing. Once the user has gone through all the the RSO’s starred they ones they want, then they can go back and pair down their favorites based on the details within each RSO profile.

The final flow is creating an RSO. This video walks through the user creating an RSO and tracking its progress.

Create Flow
My RSO’s flow

I chose to have an “in progress” tab because it allows the user to distinguish between registered RSO’s and those in progress of being registered. That way, the user knows that steps still need to be completed and what they are. The menu items are placed within the hamburger menu because they are not the key paths of browsing, searching, or creating, but still serve a secondary purpose.

Designing the Hi Fi

All of my research, ideation, and design work culminates to my final mock-ups! I used Google Pixel 2 templates because that’s the phone I have, and well, because Google!

Welcome to UW RSO!

Softwares Used

  1. Adobe Xd for wireframes
  2. Adobe Photoshop for gif making and hi fi’s
  3. Adobe Xd Google sticker sheet for icons
  4. Online Google pixel 2 mockups

Analysis and Next Steps

I will admit, this is the first time I have done a 7 day design sprint, and it was not easy! However, I think it’s a good sign that I actually enjoyed staying up until 1am wireframing because it means I’m doing something I love.

My app is nowhere near perfect, and these are the things I would focus on if I were to develop it further:

  1. More user testing on the “in progress” tab. This section requires user input/confirmation to move from the next stage of the RSO registration process to another, and I would like to explore how this function actually behaves in real life. Would users actually use this function, or would they just forget about it and find registration instructions for their RSO some other way?
  2. I would want to play with notifications. Could the app help progress user input for the “in progress” tab, and could it also better meet the purpose of a little push towards involvement?
  3. Could I embed this app functionality in another, to make one streamlined freshman orientation service? For example, combining a campus map, orientation activities, and RSO’s.
  4. I would want to develop my research further, specifically talking to freshman. Why did one person choose to join an RSO, while another did not? Unfortunately I only had my anecdotal experience.

Thank you for your time and the opportunity!

Kay Waller

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An aspiring UX practitioner studying Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington.

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Kay Waller

Kay Waller

An aspiring UX practitioner studying Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington.

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