Post 22 – November 20th

What We Did: Welcome to London! We have been running around for the past four days holding 30-45 minute usability tests with users, shooting for the video, and attending an event at the Uganda High Commission. We’ve spoken with grad students who have moved from: Kenya, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Guatemala, and Puerto Rico. We’ve identified a number of issues, involving memorability, conventions, help & documentation, continuity, and unfamiliarity. Unsurprisingly, a number of people were tripped up by the backslash, which is necessary to execute the command. Several people could only remember a couple of commands after using the tutorial, which worked out fine for those who could remember the /help hot key. That needs to be emphasized more in general. At the Grow Movement event at the Uganda High Commission, we learned more about the challenges and successes of this parallel program which does small business mentorship over Skype. It was inspiring to see some real progress made, and good to hear about the real challenges as well (e.g. absenteeism). We learned that some of the mentorship was moving over to What’s App, due to it’s popularity in developing countries. Furthermore, we got some good feedback from Eunice, founder of the Africa Technology & Business Meetup in London, who we’ve been corresponding with since January. She mentioned opportunities to monetize our platform with banks, NGO’s, and charities. Challenges: The usability sessions turned out really well. We have a  lot of good feedback; now it’s a matter of parsing and synthesizing it, and deciding what to incorporate. Next Steps: We need to incorporate a lot of the feedback received from...

Post 21- November 13th

What we did: This week we prepared for our trip to London, this included prototyping, creating a usability script, and a video script/shot list. For the prototyping we implemented all of the features we had discussed and wanted to test. This also forced us to think through each detail on how the system should work. The bot now has you follow a tutorial, has an automated checklist, has a normal checklist, and status reminders, in addition to the profile questions, which had already been implemented. For the usability script we found areas we wanted to test and built a script around it. We decided to not only get feedback at the end of the testing but throughout the process after every one or two tasks the user completed. We also had them answer some general questions at the end where they described the service in their own words and gave any general feedback. For the tasks we also created task sheets instead of just reading out loud what they needed to do, this simplified the process and was a good referral point for the users. Before going to London we tested the script with Tiana to make sure the order and process made sense. For our video we created a script of the narrative and what goes in each shot. We had a lot of discussion on what type of video we wanted, whether it followed the journey of one person or if it just used text and images that described the product. In the end we decided to follow the journey of one person, as we felt that...

Post 20 – November 6th

What we did: This week has been all about nailing down a usability testing plan and preparing for our midterm presentation. We decided to streamline the presentation process by making one team member responsible for each milestone and it’s been working out much better. The presenter writes out an outline, then assigns visual assets for the rest of the time to contribute to; in this way, forward progress on the project itself can continue. On Friday, we will be presenting the real meat of the project including problem, solutions, design decisions, customer journey, samples screens, and a short demo! We have tentatively settled on a name for our system, Unibot. A lot of work this week went into nailing down the different features of the system all the way down to sample conversations a user might have. Our user testing plan is 2-fold: we will be testing the usability of the system with friends at M-ITI as well as in London with both international students and potential Ugandan mentors. The research goals for this phase are 1) can they complete the tasks accurately and efficiently and 2) is it delightful to use. Then, we will enlist a couple family members of the team who are thinking about returning to grad school for a more “in the wild” study to determine 1) how useful they find the system and 2) if they can easily different the functions of mentor and bot. Additional work has started on the final deliverables, especially the video. We’ve collected inspirational material and begun storyboarding to figure out if/when we need to recruit actors. We’ve completed an outline...

Post 19 – October 26

What We Did: Pressing ahead with our plan to go to London, we’ve been planning our itinerary and recruiting heavily for research participants. On our agenda is: test the working prototype with users, collect footage for the final video (including university footage, street views, and African students), and perform some observational research in local African neighborhoods. We’ve started exploring storyboard directions for the video by researching other types of promotional videos and analyzing the visuals, narrative structure, and messaging. As with last semester, we’re pulling out the big guns to find appropriate recruits. We want current or recently graduated students who got their Master’s degrees in London, came from an African country, and uses What’s App. We are asking all our friends and contacts to make direct introductions or referrals: 1-do they know any Africans living abroad 2-do they have any African friends from grad school 3-did they go to grad school abroad and have any African friends there. Additionally, we held three remote interviews this week, with Tilahun from Ethiopia, Lelo from Zimbabwe, and Tofi from Mexico. Some findings were: Tilahun fell into his Bachelor’s area of study because he tried what his friends did, and found that he enjoyed it as well. He only had one year to declare a major. Tilahun went to Copenhagen for a Master’s degree because his friends attended the year before. Since they had similar grades and profiles, he used them as a benchmark. He figured that he had a similar chance of getting in. Since Tilahun wanted to go an academic route, he consulted and followed the advice of his professors, noting that they too all had pHD’s. Lelo got into...