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Kompas: tailor-made city tours and guidance for expats

An app focused on making expats feel at home new city by offering tailor-made city tours and in-person guidance by moving abroad.

My responsibilities: user interviews, persona's, user flows, prototyping, usability testing

The Challenge

As part of my UX certification I was given the assignment to design an app for experts. The briefing came with the following requirements:

Who: People who need the advice of an expert but don’t have a friend or family member to call.
What: An app that allows users to instantly connect with an expert in a given field.
When: Whenever you need help with something you aren’t familiar or experienced with (i.e. plumbing, technology, math, career advice, design critique, etc.).
Where: Most commonly at home, but on the go, as well.
Why: We all need the real-time and face-to-face help of an expert sometimes.

I knew I wanted to design an expert-app for expats. Being an expat myself, I know the joys and struggles of moving abroad. Learning a new language, meeting new people, finding your way around in a new city. I have talked about those topics with many expats and the same problems some to come up every time. I saw this assignment as a good opportunity to learn more about this group and their struggles!

Defining the problem space

I started my project with competitor research and a desktop research. I wanted to find out how expats currently deal with questions about moving abroad, finding a job, filing a visa etc. I also wanted to know if there were any communities helping expats adjust to new cities and cultures and tackle their homesickness.

I analysed forums like Internations, Facebookgroups focused on expats and Meetup communities and studied what they're offering and how they help expats.

My key insights were:
● Expat communities are mostly focused on job/housing-related questions
● Expat communities are mostly focused on meeting new people
● The little things that really trigger homesickness are not addressed by existing services

User Interviews

I wanted to really understand what expats need the most to feel at home when they move to a new country, what they enjoy when they move to a new city and if they use city tours to get to know their new home. To find answers, I conducted three user interviews with expats in different ages and with different professions.

The Problem Statement

I collected all insights on affinity boards to gain an overview of what my interviewees say, think and value. I discovered that the problem expats face is twofold. On the one hand expats struggle with the paperwork needed to move abroad and on the other hand they find it very hard to meet new people in a new city. This led me to the following problem statement:

How might we...support expats to feel at home in a new city where they are not familiar with the language or administrative processes?

Based on the user research I identified several use cases. First of all, expats are looking for help to finish their paperwork and administration. They want to connect with other expats and people from their home country and practice a new language.

Meeting our persona

I used the insights of my research to create persona's, set up user flows and create user journeys.

I created three different persona's, varying from a single student to a family with kids. For each persona I defined the key jobs that characterize this persona and brought this together in a user journey. I found out that the jobs to be done where either social like meeting new people or functional like finding help with administrative work. With the main jobs in my mind, I defined user flows for the most important tasks.

From wireframe to prototype

This assignment came with the following feature requirements:

● An onboarding page
● A way to sign up and log in
● A home screen or dashboard where users can access their information
● A menu that allows users to navigate the application
● A way to browse experts and pose a question to them
● A way of paying for an expert’s timeI started sketching out low-fidelity wireframes using pen and paper and the Crazy 8s technique.

Later on, I turned these paper sketches into digital wireframes on Balsamiq.One of the key insights I had here was to let go of any perfectionism and push myself to make quick and rough sketches, focusing on functionality rather then aesthethics.To continuously test my designs I quickly moved from wireframes onto prototyping. Even early-state paper wireframes where turned into prototypes using Prott and tested with users.

User Testing

I tested my early prototype with 5 users and gathered my insights in a Rainbow Spreadsheet. I then used Jakob Nielsens Severity Rating the identify the main usability errors.After several rounds of both live and remote user testing, I finished up my screens in a mockup. This included custom made illustrations for the onboarding screens.

Conclusion

This assignment taught me a lot about the Design Thinking process, the importance of user research and continuous testing. My key insight was to push beyond the first idea and to kill your darlings. It was incredibly helpful to me to conduct user tests, see people interact with my design and gain feedback from peers. The value of continuous testing that has stuck with me ever since and something I try to practice as much as I can.There are also some things I would differently, knowing the things I know now. I would prioritise jobs-to-be-done over required features and focus more on the pains & gains of a user instead of demographic details that were included in the persona.