The Challenge

In 8 weeks, research a student problem and use the IBM Activation Journey UX method to design a solution.

MY ROLE:   Project Manager | Researcher | Visual Designer

TEAMMATES:   Abigail Colmenar | Nancy Lee | Syeda Nudrat Zehra | Wen Jin

TOOLS:   Figma | Balsamiq | Mural | Miro | Photoshop



The Problem

With classes moved online due to COVID-19, students are struggling to connect. 
To better understand their needs we...


Key Survey Findings

Students indicated struggles connecting with classmates during the pandemic.


In addition, common interests outside of school included food, music and art.


Affinity Diagram

We summarized our qualitative findings from the interviews by grouping them in common themes.



What did we learn?




Using our primary research, we created Stephanie Stanford the Studious Student.


Empathy Map

We mapped out what participants commonly said, thought, did and felt through an empathy map.


We narrowed down Stephanie's needs to...




After brainstorming ideas individually, we voted on ideas based on feasibility and impact. This was then plotted on a prioritization matrix to identify our best ideas:


Home Runs

Guided Conversations

Big Bets

Mutual Selection
Breaking Bread
Pen Pals

Quick Wins

Small Student Groups

Marginal Gains

Contact Helper
Events Sharing



User Journey

Using a combination of our highest voted ideas, we envisioned Stephanie's future scenario.


Lo-Fi Sketches

After ideation, we used a prioritization grid to rank our ideas on the basis of impact and feasibility. Our top ranking ideas were: conversation cards, eating together virtually and small student groups. We independently sketched it out and then combined our ideas.



Usability Testing

We shared the sketches with three representative users to generate feedback and iterate on our design.



Medium Fidelity Prototype (Demo)



High Fidelity Mock Up

Breaking Bread

The mobile app that virtually connects students together over a meal.

Join a random table, host your own
or make reservations!

Enjoy your meal
with a side of laughter

Break bread with new and old friends.

Use fun conversation cards to get to know your peers on a personal level.

Stay connected

Met someone cool?

Add them as a friend and
schedule your next  bread breaker!



Next Steps



Lessons Learned

Listening is King

This was my first UX project following the IBM Activation Journey from start to finish. I learned that the key to designing solutions for users is listening; in particular, listening to their needs in the research phase and feedback during evaluation. Frequent testing and iterating are important to optimize the experience for users. It was also highly valuable being open to critique from industry mentors and feedback from users.

Research is also King

It is essential to have the research to confidently back up any design decisions. Whether it was conducting further secondary research during ideation or conducting A/B testing to understand user preferences of screen features, as long as we had data to support our decisions, we could confidently present it. For example, we solidified our decision to do breaking bread because further secondary research revealed that eating together can actually make people happier and eat healthier. 

Virtual Collaboration

I learned that teamwork makes the dream work. Due to COVID-19, this project was completed 100% remotely over Zoom, but that did not stop us from achieving our goals and working synergistically together. I also learned that when working in teams there will be differences in opinions and it is important to listen and value everyone's input.




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