Post 24 – December 4th

What We Did: We’ve made a lot of progress this week. Let’s take each deliverable one by one: -Video: all the London and Funchal footage has been sorted, cut, and somewhat pieced together over a first draft voiceover. We purchased an After Effects template to save time creating cool animated WhatsApp messenger bubbles and have a few more ideas for kinetic typography. We’ve chosen and purchased the background music as well. The first draft was 03:15 minutes and we’ve cut it down now to 02:45. -Book: Jenn has assigned everyone specific visuals and we’ve shared writing responsibilities. Our outline was approved with minor adjustments, so we’ve been forging ahead and using it as the basis for our presentation outline. Today the text will start to be laid out in InDesign for critique Tuesday morning. -Website(s): Juan and Nalena met up to design and code the /envision (new name and logo!) splash page. It matches our overall color palette and invites users to sign up and see how the system works. The backend is all in place and working!! Next up, is finalizing our team website with lots of process pics, a timeline, and giving any visitor a good overall impression of how much work and research we’ve dedicated to the project. -Presentation: we’re hoping to mostly re-use past slides. The biggest issue now is where in the outline our video and demo should go as that will dictate the rest of the structure. Right now, we’re thinking only 2-3 people will present. The 2-minute madness is ready to go. Challenges/Issues: Edit, edit, edit! I think our biggest challenges is...

Post 23 – November 27th

What We Did: First off, we finished all filming for the video here in Funchal! After that, we took some time off to celebrate an American-in-Portugal-style Thanksgiving. That being said, we’ve turned out attention to classroom deliverables and a lot of the work has been assigned to individual team members to complete on their own. Special attention has been paid to the outline of the book and our voiceover script for the concept video, so that we can submit it for feedback from our advisors. Juan has put in a lot of work on the back-end of the system and it’s looking really great. Challenges: We’re on a tight schedule to complete all the deliverables, but I think we have everything properly planned out. Next Steps: Execute, execute,...

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...

Post 18 – October 23rd

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...

Post 17- October 16th

What we did: This week we decided to travel to London during mid-November to do user testing and get video footage.  We looked at different flight options/accommodations, and got approval from Simone. We also started researching different areas the Ugandan Diaspora live in and what schools we could reach out to. We also prepared a mentee quiz and disseminated an email inviting future Portugal students to sign up for a mentor program with students that are already in Portugal.  In the end we had 12 out of 16 students sign up for the program. We worked further on defining our personal portal and verification process.  The idea behind the portal is that it will guide them through the process of choosing schools and then applying to them through timelines, checklists, etc.  For the verification we want to make sure that the person is truly interested in becoming a mentor/mentee and is trustworthy. We created a customer journey map for Jude to better understand the high and low points for him during the process of applying to school abroad.  We found that he did have a lack of access to resources and people to help guide him, especially when applying to graduate schools in the United States. Challenges: We found that we didn’t have sufficient people that we’ve interviewed regarding applying to school in the United States so we are reaching out to our network to identify more people.   Next Steps: We need to book our London Trip.  We will be matching the mentors and mentees with each other, understanding what’s most important for the match.  We will also...

Post 16 – October 9th

What we did:  This week, we are preparing for our quarter-semester presentation, user-testing for content, and preparing a low-fi prototype. We were inspired by the textiles we saw displayed by vendors at the UNAA convention, so we are rebranding ourselves based on those colors/patterns for all forthcoming presentations and reports. We sent out a few questions to select members of our user base regarding challenges, research, and funding of moving abroad to incorporate in our designs. About half responded. In addition, we interviewed Jude Mukundane, RootIO’s software developer about his process applying to schools. We completed two activities: one to display a visual journey map and another to sort the features he thinks are important for our concept. We sketched our ideas for the website and cut them up to move them around on the board. The technology we are considering is still in flux. It depends on how far of reach we are aiming for – we’re considering a “lite” version completely utilizing Whatsapp. Our prototypes are currently in grayscale, stationary web format using Sketch. Challenges:  The main challenge is to come up with a nice “wow” factor that really differentiates our product and give the content more focus. Then we can work on the overall information architecture, which the team has diverging opinions on. Next steps: We need to further plan and recruit for user testing and narrow the features down to what we can realistically build by the end of the semester. Also, we plan on experience prototyping the match and mentorship model between ourselves and the incoming Pittsburgh-Portugal...

Post 15 – October 1

What we’ve done Based on our current three concepts (A, B and C) and Chris’ feedback, we came up with many new concepts after a lot of brainstorming. We made different storyboards of these approaches and we ended up voting for our top 5. We made storyboards of these five concepts and showed them to Chris and Jude. Yes, Jude is here in Madeira. He came to visit the island and to keep up with his work in RootIO and other projects. He presented RootIO in conferences in Paris and Lisbon before coming here. Jude and Chris commented about our new concepts and they found a potential direction combining our Concept C (mentor matching) with one of the new concepts (Concept 4, which was a Diaspora Network Storytelling website). We are really excited to finally have a direction and start iterating (quickly) around it.   Obstacles/What’s Next We still need to define a concept although having a direction is very encouraging. We are going to iterate in the next few days to define our merged concept and start working on the short term deliverables (Lo-fi prototype, presentation, etc.). We are also planning on sending some questions to selected Ugandan diaspora members that will be related to these concepts. Things are looking...