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Buddy - connect mentors & mentees


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Design Brief

Your school wants to strengthen the community by encouraging experienced students to connect with new students and help them adjust to campus life. Design an experience that allows mentors and mentees to discover each other.

Project details

1 week. Individual design exercise

Tools - Figma, Adobe Illustrator


I designed a mobile app to help mentors and mentees connect. Here's a working prototype for you to interact with!

A quick summary of my process before I deep dive into it
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Creating keyword  & questions

I read the prompt again and created a keyword guide I could reference throughout the week

Becoming a mentor
Adjusting to campus life
Strengthen community
New students
Discovering each other

Looking at the keywords, I started jotting down important questions and directions to pursue.

  • Why do mentees pursue mentorship?

  • What are their needs and concerns?

  • How is the relationship like?

Becoming a mentor
  • Why do mentors agree to mentor?

  • How long do mentors provide mentorship?

  • How many mentees do they take?

Adjusting to campus life
  • What type of advice is given?

  • Differing advice based on background?

each other
  • What are some current ways people in general discover each other?

Doing online domain research to set a base understanding

I felt it would be useful to start looking online and gain knowledge on existing formal mentorship programs ( pros and cons), first year experience accounts, etc. As I had myself never been part of a mentorship program, this activity quickly helped met set a base understanding of the context I am designing for.

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I conducted 5 Interviews to
hear first-hand thoughts

From the previous step, I created an interview script to hear first-hand how people at IU had experienced a mentorship process. I talked to 5 people, 2 of which had been mentors and mentee both at some time.


Indiana University's student body is diverse. I tried to have a good mix of undergraduates, graduates, gender, ethnicities. It was important to me to be mindful of diverse perspectives, as everyone'e experience and needs can differ by background

So many insights, so little time

I synthesized my major findings into specific actionable insights to aid concept creation

new students

Anxious about big change 😰

New students are anxious about attending a new college. For many, it is a new place, new life, cultural shift, and ultimately a BIG CHANGE


Seek advice 🌟

They need advice on various topics like housing, classes, finance, adjusting socially and academically


Finding mentors is hard 🧐 🏙

They are not sure how to find experienced students to talk to, and resort to searching online on sites like Facebook. They look for students from perhaps the same hometown, or same background.


Scared of reaching out 👀

They also feel hesitant about reaching out, wondering if they will be bothering them. They often use their phones to chat with mentors.

experienced students

Rewarding experience 😌

Mentors love helping others and find it rewarding. They empathize and understand how intimidating the first semester can be

Want to be truly helpful 🤗

One of their fears is giving wrong advice or appearing unhelpful. Hence, they would prefer to help new students from similar backgrounds


Need to set boundaries 😵

They don't mind advising multiple people. But, in absence of formal mentoring programs, mentors might feel overwhelmed if too many students contact them for help.

the relationship

Close friendship 💪

It often starts slightly formal in nature, but with time mentors and mentees often become close friends, with the relationship extending beyond just the first year.

mentorship programs

Random assignment is a problem ❌

Students often had bad experiences with formal mentorship programs because they may assign mentors randomly, leading to a lack of connection between mentors and mentees. 

With clear insights, I figured what I wanted my design to achieve
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It's ideation time!

Keeping my insights in mind, I engaged in an ideation exercise to let all creative and 'what if' ideas out, using them as grounds to flesh out final features of the concept. Some of them:


Swiping left right like Tinder

What if mentors mentees could match with each other using swiping feature from Tinder?


Pen pal system

What if mentors could write personalized letters to their mentees like pen pals to encourage bonding?


Trivia nights

What if first years and experienced students could engage in group activities to know each other faster?

Setting up a profile with interests would be important in discovering and matching people

Messaging service with small encouragements to be personal would help in bonding quicker

Forum for asking any questions or even fun things.

Based on above ideas I made a quick sketch of the important features, and then a low fidelity version on Figma

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Keeping the look and feel of the app friendly and casual

Given the negative connotations about formal programs among students from my research, I decided to not have the app look IU affiliated and give it a more casual and informal look

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I decided to use Orange as a primary color as it is associated with warmth, happiness, optimism and fun.

I created an illustration for the main logo to visually represent what the mentorship relationship signified: Friendship, trust, care, growth. I chose plants to depict this.

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How it all comes together ...

In the interest of time, I am depicting the screens from the perspective of a first year to show how it would appear to them.

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Getting some quick feedback

I asked 2 participants to explore the app to see if the flow and information was easy to understand. I asked them to think out loud as well, and asked them their overall thoughts.

Majorly they gave positive reviews. Some suggestions I want to implement further on are:

  • More clear visual indication and feedback after having completed the first quiz. This lets them know their profile is ready to be created

  • The icons on the quiz page could be made smaller to have faster scrolling/selection

  • Allowing custom filters be set when exploring different mentors or an enhanced search facility.

Reflecting on how the week went

For me understanding users in depth by empathizing with them is important. Hence, I wanted to deep dive into the problem but given the limited time, I had to learn how to prioritize information and gain enough knowledge to take actions. 

As a designer I can't solve all the issues by adding too many features. It was important to focus on major issues and achieve a balance between user needs and required features.

© 2021 Riya Rana.  Crafted with much delight!

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