Building a Mobile Application With Strict and Short Deadlines

Do not miss a class or a homework

IMPORTANT CONTENTS
Client

Princess Nourah Bint Abdul Rahman University

Sector

Education

My Role

Entire product design from research to conception, creating user interfaces, testing and converting to High fidelity prototype.

Duration

March - September 2017

The Client

Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University is a public women's university located in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. It is the largest women's university in the world with over a site area of 800ha.

It has more than 60,000 students in 34 colleges with a 2.8 Million square meter. This led the students to arrive late to their lectures. (At least from the customer's point of view)


جامهة الأميرة نورا بنت عبد الرحمن
The Princess Nourah University - Campus

Overview

Designing and developing a mobile application for Princess Nourah Bint Abdul Rahman University to facilitate campus exploring, finding the class route, taking attendance, receiving professor notifications, and no missing homework deadlines.

Introduction

After winning the project, my manager Mr. Muhannad Hantash asked me to do a mobile application for Princess Nora Bint Abdul Rahman University to help female students to attend their lectures on time, especially fresh students.

Mr. Hantash shared with us the scope of work document. Accordingly, we decided to conduct a kickoff meeting with the client to define and agree on the following based on The Graphic Gameplan:

  • Team and Resources   
  • Stages and Tasks
  • Objectives
  • Targets
  • Success Factors
  • Challenges

Results:

Graphic Gameplay for Princess Nourah
The Graphic Gameplan for Princess Nourah University
The Gameplan Breakdown

1. Teams & Resources

  • Our part: Project Manager, GIS Developer, React Native Developer, and UX/UI Designer.
  • University's part: Student President, Project Supervisor, APIs which is needed to connect to the registration Database, also Purchasing 10K QR reading devices.
  • Integrate with the current registration system.
  • We must use university logo colors in our design.
  • Create apps in two languages: English and Arabic.
  • Updating Registration system is out of scope.

2. Stages & Tasks

  • Stage 1: Research, Problem definition, MVP definition, and Wire-framing.
  • Stage 2: Low-fidelity and high-fidelity prototypes.
  • Stage 3: Finish the App development for IOS and Android, and QR readers devices installation, setup, and integration.
  • Stage 4: Handover APK and IPA files.

3. Targets

  • Decrease absence to 1% for fresh students.
  • Optimize the trip time anywhere inside the university campus to the class room where the lecture conducted to 15 minutes. We can leverage bus and train schedule to make this optimization.
  • Finish the MVP by the beginning of July.
  • Handover APK and IPA files.

4. Primary Objectives

  • Take attendance using the App.
  • Monitor attendance by teachers and registration department personal.
  • Easy routing through the campus.
  • 100% of students' installation and usage.

5. Other Objectives

  • Students can see their attendance report for each material they are taking and can filter it by date.
  • Professors can see the current class or any previous class attendance report.

6. Challenges

  • Permit to enter the university for research and testing (it may take a long time)
  • University Vacation will intersect with our project time.
  • We may face some policy restrictions, such as visiting classrooms or speaking to female students.

7. Success Factors

  • Easy route finding to make sure students' average trip time is 15 minutes.
  • Easy and secure app access.
  • Easy attendance taking.
The results of Graphic Gameplan workshop for Princess Nourah University
Now we are on the same page as we and our client asked the right questions to uncover all of the project’s requirements and goals.

Understanding why we were hired, why this project is important to our client, and why the university needs this are crucial to the success of any solution that you create. We asked questions to uncover the motivations, and we are in a much better position to create the solution.

The Process

After the kickoff meeting, we held an internal meeting to define the process and the project timeline.

UX Design process for Princess Nourah Application
The Defined Process (Enlarge)

Interviews & Survey

With the knowledge of Problem Solving techniques such as 5 Whys techniques, I conducted interviews with 10 students, 10 professors, and 2 registration personals.

Questions Sample:

  • Tell me about your university and your role there.
  • What does the university do better than anyone else? why do you think that?
  • What kind of information/content, features, or functionality needs to be on the unversity App?
  • What’s a typical day look like for you?
  • What sort of software/tools/Apps do you use on a day to day basis? Why?
  • How do you plan for your school day?
  • As a fresh university student how do you find your classroom at the first time?
  • How do you think the university attendance app might help you?

According to responses received, I performed an online survey to prove my findings from the interviews. The survey was answered by 1133 (near 83% students and 17% professors) within 8 days.

Number of students participants and their categories Princess Nourah Application
Number of students participants and their segment (Approx.)

Our Findings:

  • Those who were interested in such an application were the first and second-year students from the bachelor's degree, besides some master’s degree students.
  • All professors were interested in any application that can help them in route to the classroom and tack student attendance plus some extra features.
  • Both professors and students find it challenging to reach the assigned classroom for the first time, the same problem when they have an exam to take.
  • University students and professors find it confusing to know the locations and working hours of public services from the Deanship of Student Affairs, and restaurants.
  • Using papers to take the attendance and absence of students consumes the two parties' time, especially for university professors, and sometimes the attendance papers are lost.
  • It is hard to remember the bus and train schedules moreover to use them to arrive at the right time for the lecture.
  • Registrations employees are satisfied with the current system.
  • Students and Professors are using more than one application to control their classes schedule.
  • Good percentage are mislead to the right class hall location due to human error.

Current Users Flow

For a better perception, we have decided to map the current users flow to highlight the pain points in their journey.

Users Flow:

Nourah University Students App. -  Current users flow
Uer flow for professors and students (Enlarge)

Persona

We defined our persona using the Empathy Map graph, as shown below:

Persona:

Nourah University Students App. - Student Persona
Student Persona (Enlarge)
Nourah University Students App. - Pofessor Persona
Professor Persona (Enlarge)

The Problem

There is a difference between the problem students and professors face, their goals, and the impact on their lives. Therefore we separated the problem according to the persona as follows:

For Students:

Problem

  • Finding a route to a lecture is challenging and wastes students' time, particularly at the start of any semester, at exams, and when unexpectedly changing the location of the lecture happens. There is a rule of attendance at the university that students must adhere to, so they can attend final exams. The subject may be withdrawn from the student in case of non-commitment to attend.
  • Because of the high temperature in Riyadh (more than 45c in summer), students search for the shortest route to get to the lecture and try to take advantage of public transportations on the university campus.
  • Students face a problem remembering homework and exams due dates, especially if the application deadline is after a week or more.
  • Taking attendance during the exam effects exam progress and cuts the students' ideas sequence.
  • The difficulty of finding university facilities.

Affects

Affects students' grades and their college performance ending with disappointed students and parents.

Impact

Failure to submit assignments or delays to attend the study or exams halls on time results in the loss of many marks, which leads to a weakness in students ’results at the end of the semester. This may lead to disappointed students, parents, and management.

Success

  • Decrease route time to 10-15 minutes and include at least 1 public transportation.
  • Increase the number of assignments delivered on time to 95%.
  • Students face a problem remembering homework and exams due dates, especially if the the deadline is after a week or more.
  • Reduce the delay in exams attendance to 3%.

For Professors:

Problem

  • University professors are disturbed when students enter the hall after the lecture begins.
  • Finding the route to a lecture's hall is challenging and consumes a lot of time, particularly at the start of the semester, at exams, and when unexpectedly changing the location of the lecture.
  • It is disturbing when students forget the deadline for submitting assignments or exams.
  • Taking attendance consumes at least 10 minutes of the lecture time.
  • The difficulty of finding university facilities.

Affects

Affects professors' concentration during the class and the information flow when late students enter the hall. Also, the professors sometimes get delayed due to complications in finding the lecture hall or university facilities.

Impact

It impacts on the whole process of education in the lecture

Success

  • The decrease in the number of interruptions done by late students to 1%.
  • Do not use the lecture time to take attendance.

User Journey Map

As we defined the user journey in the user flow chart in the previous step,  we understood their goals and pain points they face, we've decided to predict the user journey using a mobile application as requested from our client in the RFP.

Student Journey Map:

Nourah University Students App. - Student Journey Map
Student Predicted Journey Map (Enlarge)

Professor Journey Map:

Nourah University Students App. - Professor Journey Map
Professor Predicted Journey Map (Enlarge)

The Job Stories

To have a better understanding of our users tasks, we created job stories and below some of those stories:

For Norah:

When I'm using the route feature in the App, I want to see when the bus/train arrives and my progress, so I can change my speed accordingly.
When I'm checking the assignment , I want to be able to schedule the notification, so I can make sure I will not forget it.
When I'm checking the classes schedule, I want to be able to schedule the notification, so I can make sure I will attend the class on time.
When I'm checking the assignment, I want to be able to read some brief about it or comment on it, so I can make sure that I understand what it is requested to do.
When I'm checking my attendance, I want to compare myself with other students, so I can do better each day.
When I'm checking the route to class, I want to see my current location, so I can my progress.


For Abeer:

When I'm using the route in the App, I want to see when the bus/train arrives and my progress, so I can change my speed accordingly.
When I'm adding a new assignment, I want to notify all my students, so I can be assured that all of them are acknowledged.
When I'm taking attendance, I want to know who did not attend and how many time they skipped my classes, so I can give them verbal warning.
When I'm checking the classes schedule, I want to be able to schedule the notification, so I can make sure I will attend the class on time.
When I'm checking the comments on my assignment, I want to be able to seilent the commenting on it, so I can enjoy my evening with my family.

Design Principles

Our team identified success criteria with comprehensive design principles. Building on these guidelines and with student and peer research in-hand, we fulfilled these UX design principles concentrating on customer-driven digital transformation.

  • Personalized: Our application speaks our users' language and give them some simple bits of advice to leverage their time on the campus. The alerts are prepared in such a way that they read the student's performance status and embrace it in the alert text.
  • Content Prioritization: We all know that the human focus period is very short, 8 seconds for accuracy, so what about a student who uses his mobile to obtain information that interests him and makes it easier for him to reach his goals. Accordingly, we put what we found during our research to be more important than what we found to be less important.
  • Hand Position Controls: In our application, we have to keep in mind to improve the interface for easy reachable for one-hand, researchers found that 49% of mobile users rely on one thumb, what about our users? In our research, we found out that most of the students use one hand due to the busyness of the other hand by carrying notebooks or a cup of coffee or a pen.
Nourah University Students App. - Professor Journey Map
Resource: Smashing Magazine (Read Article)

Designed Solution

After reviewing the results of the research with my colleagues, we prioritized what should be present in the application and mechanisms of work in the mobile application.

app
Features Graph (Enlarge)

Wireframes & Workflow

We conducted 2 sketching, 2 wireframing, and 3 low-fidelity prototyping sessions. We organized to test each stage with 5-10 users.

ity Mobile Application Wireframes
Wirefram Sample (Enlarge)

Designed User Interface

The user interface was made by iterating from mood boards, university styles to the UI kit, and finally creating first high fidelity prototype which you can see a sample of it using this link.

Goals Achieved


Planned Goals Accomplished:

  • After updating bus timing and using our application, 98.7% of students be in the class 5 minutes before its start.
  • Using gamification; by giving a rank for each student so they can compete with each other, this encouraged students to keep coming to classes on time, especially when a prize announced for the top rankings students.
  • Decrease the time wasted for taking attendance from 15 minutes at maximum to 3 minutes.
  • Decrease of delays in assignment submitting to 1.3%.


Extra Goals Accomplished:

  • Increase transport utilization by 83%.
  • Professors reported that students rarely forget their tools after using the application.

Learnings & Takeaways

The professors were more than excited about the creation of this application. Their inputs were insightful and consistent to make sure that this application will help their students. This project was challenging, as this must be finished in 3 months including the development of the IOS version.

Throughout the process, our team was faced with various business requirements and limitations that we had to consider. But it was joyful that we were able to overcome the challenge together as a team.

The most valuable learning is observing people's actions is much better than asking them some questions, it is better to ask after you observe. The second thing I noticed is digitization can revolutionize the whole education process, and it is a way to fulfill my purpose to help an enormous number of people to achieve their goals.