Date:May 6, 2016

Role:Research and IxD

WeSolv aims to connect MBA students with talent–seeking companies through a platform dedicated to case-challenges. My team was tasked with designing the student-facing interface of the platform in two and a half weeks.


Learning more about our users

For this product, exploratory research was particularly vital because we were came in with biases towards the user-group. We knew we had to step away from our assumptions by getting to know the user better. So, we began our research phase by interviewing current and recently graduated MBA students. Our goal during these interviews was to understand their motivations:

  1. Why do they attend business school?
  2. Why do they participate in case competitions or other extracurricular activities?
  3. What opportunities are they seeking once they've graduated?

Split personalities

As we synthesized our data, we were able to group users into three personas

  1. Alphas are top-tier students that are on track to obtain traditional consulting or banking positions after graduating.
  2. Betas are mid-tier students that are initially seeking traditional consulting or banking positions, but are not as successful in obtaining them.
  3. Alternative-Alphas are top-tier students that are not seeking traditional consulting or banking positions, but are focused on other industries or fields of employment. For example, they may be seeking to work in social entreprise, nonprofits, startups, or government agencies/consultancies.

Through domain research and competitive analysis, we found that the majority of the networking and experiential learning opportunities, including case competitions, were geared toward those seeking the traditional consulting or banking positions. But there were very few opportunities for Betas or Alternative-Alphas to experience non-traditional work-settings. This frustration was echoed during the user interviews.

"My interest is in disaster prevention and emergency response, but there are no opportunities for me to experience it during B-school." — Anonymous Interviewee

As we created a journey map that outlined the B-school experience for all three personas, we found that WeSolv could be a resource for Betas to discover career paths that better align with their skills and passions and for Alternative-Alphas to gain experience in the fields that they are interested in.

Aligning with the client

What's the problem?

Our client understood the problem as the following: "Business students want opportunities to apply fresh thinking to solve real challenges they care about and to engage with companies nationwide."

While much of our research corroborated this, the core problem and opportunity lie in the fact that traditional networking and experiential learning opportunities were not suited for the majority of today's business students. So we reframed the problem:

Time-strapped MBA students need efficient, immersive exposure to diverse careers and companies that better align with their talents and passions.

Tough conversation

Our client envisioned a platform allowed students to connect with companies through case challenges, but also with each other by forming teams. We found in our interviews that most students were looking for vertical networking opportunities—meeting people with more experience and in senior roles at companies. We pulled quotes from our interviews to present to the client the reality of the social network platform space; people were not looking for another social network, but for opportunities to engage with companies themselves. Coupling that finding with data on market saturation and the complexity of developing a social network platform, we successfully convinced the client to focus on the true opportunity for her MVP product: the case challenges themselves.

Principles for design

Initial ideation

Sketch and test

We created and user tested paper prototypes of three major flows of the platform: Exploring available case challenges and host companies, setting up an account, and finding other teammates for the case challenges.

Concept testing insights

Using paper prototypes, we gained a lot of insights from concept testing. Here are the highlights:

  • Users want to see information upfront such as challenges they could apply for or companies they could engage with on the platform.
  • Users are resistant to giving a lot of their information until they're excited by the benefits of doing so. Signing up should be a slow-build and should allow users to input as little information as possible before reading the challenge briefs. Once they've found a challenge or company they are interested in, users feel more comfortable filling out personal and professional information.
  • MBA-students are likely to reach out to their current network first to form a team, but would definitely consider drafting a student from another school if they had could easily see that person's qualifications.
  • Company profiles on the site give the platform more legitimacy. Once users see the companies they have a opportunity to work with, they are much more likely to click on the sign up CTA.
Axure prototyping and usability testing

Building a mid-fidelity prototype in Axure, we wanted create a platform that was information-forward for the user. We ran usability tests on the prototype and iterated two more times before preparing our final deliverable.

An early Axure prototype

Finding a balance

One of the biggest challenges we faced was balancing student goals and the goals of the partnering companies. MBA students wanted to know as many specifics about the case challenges before filling out their profiles, but we were aware that companies would be unwilling to make that information available without legal protection. We believed that giving students access to the case challenge prompt and the company profile without showing challenge assets would be enough to convince students to fill out their profile. Unable to validate this, we recommended that the client further validate this.

In the end, we delivered annotated wireframes, a mid-fidelity prototype, and our research. In addition we created a roadmap that proposed a division of features into MVP features and second-generation features:

  1. The complexities of research. We faced the challenge of knowing when data you have is robust enough to be actionable. Was twelve interviews enough? Did we ask the right questions? Did we ask the right people? User research doesn't end with launch. You won't answer every question at the beginning and some questions don't arise until after the product has been put on the market. Accept certain assumptions in the present, but prepare to iterate in the future.

  2. Align first. Discussing research insights with the client gave us the confidence that we were helping the client solve the right problem.

  3. MVP. The client was looking forward to an early launch date, so it was important to identify which features and functions were necessary for a good user experience.

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