App Prototype—YIST: Your International Student Toolkit


OVERVIEW

The only one-stop platform for international students in Canada that gathers valuable resources and information about immigration, housing, lifestyle, expenses, and more, all in one site. Users would find recommendations of articles, mobile apps, videos, websites, and other people with answers to their specific questions about their lives in the country.

Summary of the Project

Every day, new international students arrive in Canada without adequate information about culture, lifestyle, expenses, or any type of support. This becomes a problem that makes it difficult for many to adapt, leverage their experience, and give back to the country. The research of useful resources and information is important for them to keep mentally strong in their new journey and make wise choices. It is necessary to find effective solutions to help people overpass these barriers, taking advantage of Canadian culture and diversity. There are already a lot of resources and endless information on the Internet, Google Maps, forums, videos, social networks, and even on the Canadian Government page, but most of these resources are scattered, distant, and difficult to find. Here is where YIST: Your International Student Toolkit provides the solution.

YIST: Your International Student Toolkit, is a digital mobile application for international students in Canada intended to provide valuable information and resources, gathered all in one site, allowing them to meet other helpful and willing people that will bring their previous experiences to the table. The app will have a wide range of resources and sources such as mobile apps, articles, websites, YouTube channels, and many other elements. Also, users could interact with other international students who would share their needs and concerns, or with experts who could advise them on specific issues.

My Role

Product Manager | Researcher | UX Designer


THE PROCESS

Project Management

I was the creator of this idea as well as the product owner. I managed to create a Project Charter to determine the problem, the solution, and the project scope; to set relevant deliverables, milestones, and time constraints; and to assess risks. In this role, I also worked with a collaborative team to receive feedback, conduct usability tests, and employ other skills during the process. I created a Business Case Document where I described critical points for the success of the project:

  • Defined the problem and its background, the target users, and explained the solution.
  • Developed a deep risk assessment, an evaluation of the phases, and time estimation (i.e. PERT technique).
  • Projected a budget for the entire project.
  • Described KPIs, metrics, and analytics modules to be considered and increase the awareness and engagement of the project.
  • Built the SEO and backlinking strategy.
  • Applied the Trinity Strategy Mindset.
  • Detailed the Revenue Model.

Phase 1: Understanding

This project was inspired by my own experience as an international student in Canada. To delve into that problem, I started asking my classmates and all the people I knew who wanted to study in Canada or had started to do so. I did multiple rounds of surveys to obtain answers about the main concerns and needs of international students—in Toronto, first— and about their experiences. After gathering insights I defined the following problem statement:

“For many international students, adapting to a new culture, new habits, and new rules while trying to get better information about their immigration process when arriving in Canada, is a difficult and time-consuming experience because there are too many sources and their needs could be quite specific. Looking for resources, information, or advice about immigration, lifestyle, personal expenses, housing options, networking, rules, and more—depending on each specific situation—can cause frustration and emotional issues that prevent them succeed with their goals.”

Simultaneously with the surveys and the digital research, I did a Comparative Analysis to know how is this problem being managed so far. I identified many split fragments of the solution scattered in different places, so I defined the “all-in-one-site” as one of the main high-value propositions of YIST,

Phase 2: Planning

As soon as the problem was clearly stated, it was important to dig deeper into the target audience. So, based on the research findings and takeaways, I created a couple of Personas and User Journeys to start planning the entire experience inside the platform.

Nonetheless, it is not enough to work with a user persona, it is important to keep thinking of and talking with real users; so, I kept working on the design and the content planning process with the idea of creating workshops and testing labs in further steps of the process. In search of the perfect UX Theme, I created a mood board to define colors, look, and feel.

I also developed a UX Theme Brief, which outlined the concept, voice, and tone I needed to use in the platform, and some content guidelines.

Phase 3: Implementing

For the last phase of the project, I created low-fidelity Wireframes on paper and used MarvelApp to build a quick prototype, so I could start doing some testing.

As you may notice, the platform’s name was going to be “MIST”, but after one of the iteration processes, I was advised to change it because “mist” is also a bad word in another language. So it changed to “YIST”, more unique!

Anyways! With those wireframes, I conducted multiple Usability Testings with potential users and received feedback from them. Then, I switched to Adobe XD and started working on a higher-fidelity Prototype. After more testing with the new version of the Prototype, I could conduct a UX Workshop to prioritize the core functions of the platform and receive more feedback and insights from the user experience.

In the UX Workshop, I used three main activities that allowed me to understand the natural flow of the users inside the app and receive their feedback live, doing questions and looking at their preferences. All this feedback was implemented for the final version of the prototype.


FINAL RESULTS

This is still an ongoing project. With all these foundations, the project is well on its way to success. There are still so many things to do, and so much time and money to invest. There are two possible ways to continue after this result:

  • Look for investors and partners, and build a team to kickstart the development phase.
  • Create first a web-based platform that could be easier to develop and manage than a mobile application.

For now, feel free to look at the last version of the prototype.

“YIST: Your International Student Toolkit” Prototype


Don’t hesitate to reach out with this contact information if you want more information about this project and my role in it.

Get in touch

Email: jonathan.prias@gmail.com

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