top of page

How Can We Help University Students Get More Involved on Campus?

Case study - a collaboration with UofT’s Innovation Hub


Introduce you to our design team:



Ivy (Me)





My Role:  Evaluation Studio Lead

conducted user research, built as-is and to-be scenarios, made Figma Prototype, wrote usability testing script and conducted usability testing

All images shown in this case study, I have contributed to making them

Step 1 - Define Our Big Problem:

UofT students struggle to attend social and academic events because they are unmotivated by their school-related stress.

Meet our user representative - Sally the Student:


Now, Imagine Yourself as Sally

This may be Your Typical Day on a Cold Winter Morning


User's as-is senario

Do You Feel Relatable?

Q: How Do We Define Our User?

A: By doing user interviews to define user needs and pain points.


Working in Studio: me on the far left of the image


User Need's Cluster

Our Goals Are:

  • UofT students who struggle to attend social and academic events can get motivated to attend classes and have a sense of achievement with instant rewards.

  • UofT students that struggle to find social and academic events can discover suitable events and be rewarded for attending them.

  • UofT students who struggle to attend social and academic events can share their thoughts anonymously online and get anonymous support from their peers.

Step 2 - Ideation Stage:

Here are some of our big (or bold) ideas


Everyone on the team contributed to the process


Each member votes for their favourite ideas, and we put together a prioritization grid based on the feasibility of the ideas


The Home Runs ideas will be the ideas that we are more likely to cooperate in the design stage

Pigeon Message, Tree Hole, Animal Therapy

Incorporate User Needs and Our Goals, the team decided to make a mobile app Ucan

Our Ideas of Ucan:

  • A virtual plant that will accompany users

  • An anonymous message pool

Step 3 - Prototype Stage:

Here are some initial sketches of the app Ucan


Later on, we moved to design mid-fi prototype in Figma


Figma pages I made

Please click here to view the full clickable Figma Prototype

The Major Features of Ucan are:

  • Find and attend events, and get rewarded for going to them

  • "Can" your personal thoughts and share them anonymously

Now, Let's Come Back to Sally

Here's How Sally's Morning Would be with Using Ucan


User's to-be senario

Sally's change is our good beliefs, to check if Ucan is an effective product

We need to conduct usability tests to find out

Step 4 - Evaluation (Studio Lead)

As the evaluation studio lead, I arranged the work team needed to do and combined group members' contributions to finish the evaluation report. I made evaluation plans and goals, wrote research questions, and selected evaluation methods with the team. I made interview scripts and tasks, conducted 2 user interviews,  analyzed quantitative and qualitative data and thought about the team's next steps. Decisions I made are based on the DECIDE evaluation framework.

Our Evaluation Goals are to find out:

  1. Whether users can achieve tasks and get rewards.

  2. Whether users can write a Can message and react to other people’s messages.

  3. Whether users feel the virtual plant gives them company.

  4. Whether the app functions help users cope with negative emotions.

  5. Whether users feel motivated to use the app.

Evaluation Methods:

  1. Observation of Participants While They Think-Aloud

  2. Interview with Questionnaire

Interview Procedures:


Interview Tasks Includes:

Task 1: “Achieve planned goals and get rewards”

Task 2: “Discover an event and get rewards”

Task 3: “Add an event or class to the goal list

Task 4: “Write a Can message and seal it”

Task 5: “Read a Can message and give a reaction

Sample Post-task Questions:

  1. How would you rate the usability of this application? Why?

  2. What did you like most about your experience? Why?

  3. Is there anything you disliked about your experience? Explain.

  4. How do you find the rewards (getting fertilizer stones, growth of the plant)?

  5. How do you find the idea of raising a virtual plant as a company?

  6. How do you find the anonymous Can message and make a reaction function?

  7. How do you find this product would motivate you to attend class and find events on campus?

  8. How can we make this product more useful to motivate you to attend school activities?

Questions are made carefully by myself, and agreed by the team, following the DECIDE framework.

D – Determine the Goals. E – Explore the Questions. C – Choose the Evaluation Approach & Methodology. I – Identify Practical Issues. D – Decide about Ethical Issues.

Now we have conducted the interviews

What do we do with the data?

Data Analysis!

Sample Graphs for Quantitative Analysis:


Sample User Quotes for Qualitative Analysis:

  • “ There is no penalty for not completing a goal, so my motivation for me is quite low.”

  • “Currently I didn't find a connection between the can message and the plant function.”

  • “ Would love to see the physical growth of the plant”

  • “The difference between an event and a goal is a little bit confusing.”

  • “Can extend this idea furthermore like raising a cat, dog or something.”

Sample Qualitative Analysis based on Observations:

  • At the beginning of each user test, it took participants a few seconds to understand the setting of Ucan, including the design of the home page, navigation bar, etc.

  • 4 participants had trouble finding the recommended event list. Since in the prototype “Find More Event” is written in a bubble, those participants didn’t realize it was a clickable button and had to go back and forth to navigate the content.

  • In most cases, participants understand the icon’s meaning and can complete tasks easily by themself.

  • All participants were able to complete each task within 30 seconds (except the only failed completeness for task 3)

Q: We've Completed the Analysis, What Now?

A: We Shall Plan the Next Steps of Our Ucan Project!

Last but Not Least, Our Next Steps Based on Users' Feedback:

  • Adjust the reward system: to make user cares more about the rewards

  • Rethink raising the virtual plant: are pets more attractive to users?

  • Make a connection between the virtual plant and Can message functions, or reassess Can feature

  • Redesign the event list and goal list so the user doesn’t confuse the two

That Concludes Our Case Study!

Here's What I Learned from My Experience:

  1. What are needs: "child needs a stool" isn't a Need but a feature, "child needs to reach for book" is a Need

  2. Do not involve functions and features before the prototyping step​

  3. User's Wows should be measurable

  4. Consider accessible and inclusive design at an early stage

Our Team Hope to Continue the Journey with Sally in the Near Future

Thank you for being on this User Design Journey with us!

bottom of page