What we did:
We had a very productive meeting with Chris. He agreed with our London trip and he was specially interested in the WhatsApp Bot feature we presented for our mentor matching process. He was even in favor of trying to design a system around this Bot and, if possible, nothing else (as User touch point). We think we’re still on time to make these changes in our design although we’re skeptical of leaving the web portal out of the project.
We created a customer journey map for Analu, Juan’s Guatemalan friend that studied (and currently lives) in London. We got very interesting insights from her. Even though she’s very determined and organized, there are still many issues within the whole “studying abroad” process and this helped us validating our approach.
We made a lot of progress in our WhatsApp Bot but WhatsApp blocked our Bot lines (3 different Portuguese telephone lines in total). We got our Bot to echo every message it received, apply some logic to certain specific messages, send pictures, change profile information, etc. We also tried to have multiple conversations at the same time, with different users, and it worked perfectly.
We kept working on defining our system architecture and answering some crucial questions about our product. We defined that our project will be based on a shared wiki database, combining the MediaWiki API (polling live info from Wikipedia) and our own Wiki API. The mentors will be collaborating with the Wiki and the Bot will have access to the info (as well as the mentors/mentees). Some mentors will be assigned as moderators to keep the information quality.
We worked on our Prototyping and Design Decision Walkthrough Presentation and presented it to faculty and James Auger. We got very useful feedback but most of it was positive.
The WhatsApp Bot is giving us a hard time because it could violate certain policies within the WhatsApp system so they are blocking our bots really fast.
We also have to figure out which features will be included in our Bot and which ones will be part of our web portal (if any).
We know how valuable is to build this Bot within WhatsApp so we’ll keep trying but our plan B will be to build this Bot within the Telegram system. Telegram is another IM app (WhatsApp competitor) but very Bot-friendly. They have a Bot API that will allow us to build our Bot without many problems.