LinkedIn My Campus enables college students to expand their network with campus classmates through shared commonalities.

Context

Linkedin Design Challenge 2019, 1 week

Team

Individual Project

Role

User Experience Design, Product Design

Tool

Sketch, Principle, Illustrator, After Effects

Brief

LinkedIn Design Challenge

Introduction: LinkedIn is a place where people can connect to people they know, in order to share professional experience and opportunities. Professional networking can begin at any point, even in school.

Task: Design an experience that helps college students discover and connect to their classmates.

Scope: Please think through the end to end experience, and share your thought process, approach, insights, and analysis with us. However, we want to limit the scope of the final deliverable to one high-fidelity design comp that demonstrates your interaction and visual design capabilities.

My Solution

LinkedIn My Campus

By providing a space to students where more natural conversation and collaboration with campus classmates could happen, My Campus empowers students to pursue their interests and passion as well as build broad and close connections with campus classmates.

Design Process

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Research and Framing Problems

Research Methods

After reading the given prompt, I could come up with several initial questions.

  • How can I define "college students" and "classmates"?
  • How do college students discover and connect to their classmates currently?
  • Why do college students want to discover and connect to their classmates?
  • How LinkedIn could help this?
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Since I thought that an in-depth interview is the best way to get unidentified thoughts about those questions, I conducted an interview with 4 students across degrees. Also, I conducted secondary research and competitive analysis to understand the general landscape of current social media usage. 

Correlations between Purpose of Conversation, Relationship with Classmates, and Social Media Platform

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Based on the interview and analysis, I could categorize the four groups of relationships according to the closeness. The type of conversation is categorized by four groups as well - formal/informal collaborative, formal/informal social.

Since it is easy to find out a person through mutual connections, Facebook Messenger is one of the most popular ways to reach out to classmates. While edu.email is also considered as a great way to find out classmates using student directory, it is mainly used for more formal purposes, such as announcing a notice to the whole class. Slack channels are used with similar purposes but more concentrating on formal collaborative conversations. 

LinkedIn (message) is generally used for talking with people that students haven't met before, especially Alumni. For professional purposes, Handshake was one of the most common platforms, however, it is used mainly for searching job postings not connecting to people. 

Synthesis

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They, I spent some time on synthesis. I could narrow down on 3 insights as below.

Insights

01.

Students have limited resources to discover new classmates in different majors and departments, especially if they don't have any connections.

Considering a college or university is one of the great places where all diverse disciplinaries are gathered, it is important for college students to broaden their network with peers on campus as well. How might we help students easily discover each other?

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College students discover and connect to classmates mainly for 4 different reasons. I tried to map the 4 main reasons for the matrix I proposed above, in order to find opportunity space for LinkedIn.

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1) To make friends

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2) To get information about courses or assignments

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3) To recruit members for project or contest

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4) To ask questions about careers and get referrals

This analysis discovered that LinkedIn is not helpful when reaching out to unknown classmates who have less or no connections. Through this analysis, I could find out an opportunity space that LinkedIn could help college students by broadening their connections.

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"I am interested in architecture but I don't know anyone in that major... Also, it is hard for me to easily socialize with architecture undergraduate students because I am not that extrovert." (Interviewee #4)

02.

Many students don’t feel like they have enough professional experience or achievements to display on LinkedIn, which makes them feel discouraged and inactive on the platform.

LinkedIn is perceived as a platform only for professional purposes for college students. Thus, they are always in a position that they have to reach out to others and ask for help on LinkedIn. How might we enable students to share an experience that they already have and become more confident on the platform?

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"To be honest, I don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet. I feel like I need more time to fill it out." (Interviewee #1)

"LinkedIn is a platform for displaying professional images and making a connection with potential hiring managers." (Interviewee #2)

"It took 1~2 years for me to start adding contents and establish new connections. Before that, I didn’t have many things to write on the profile so I didn’t really go check LinkedIn out." (Interviewee #3)

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Considering a large proportion of LinkedIn users are high professionals and strong influencers, college students are early-career talents who comparatively do not have much professional experience on the LinkedIn platform.

"Unfortunately, early career talent generally has little, if any, professional experience to showcase (on LinkedIn). (…) Feelings of inadequacy are common among recent-grads." (Charles Javelona, CEO of DCommons Corp)

03.

College students think that the connections on LinkedIn lack strength and sincereness.

It is understandable, considering the natural characteristics of LinkedIn - which is only focusing on professional or formal relationships with people who we haven't ever met. How might we help students to build less superficial connections on LinkedIn?

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"I trust more close relationships rather than random people on LinkedIn. I'd rather ask friends to introduce their friends directly to get a referral." (Interviewee #1)

"I would use email instead of LinkedIn because it shows more sincereness. It shows at least I did some research on them. For my experience, people don't reply better through LinkedIn than email because they think 'Oh, this another random person is reaching out to me again.'" (Interviewee #2)

"I have more than 600 connections, but as everyone knows, it does not mean anything. I cannot even remember who they are. I'm sometimes surprised at myself when I search for a complete stranger and realize that I did already connect with him! It is becoming more like Facebook." (Interviewee #4)

Design Objectives

With the design challenges in mind, I enumerated objectives for my intervention.

Connect the Dots

Help students find their campus classmates who they don't have any mutual friends but have similar interests and passion.

Ease Burden 

Relieve pressure onboarding the platform for students. They don't need special experience, but can just share what they already have. 

Strengthen Network

Beyond just a formal connection on the platform, provide an opportunity for students to improve the quality of connections

Ideation & Concept Development

A Central Hub for Campus Students

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I could develope my concept as a secured space for students, LinkedIn My Campus. These are the main features of this space;

Secured Space and Posts

Students should feel comfortable to upload posts to share or collaborate with classmates with similar interests. Also, the posts should be shared exclusively if necessary - only visible to specific students.

Enhanced Connections through Conversation

In order to enhance the connections between students, it is very important to improve profile views by highlighting the commonalities with specific information as well as initiating the conversation first.

Easy Onboarding Process

In order to re-educate student users that LinkedIn is not an overwhelming space for them, I thought about interventions that could introduce My Campus to student users.

User Flow

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Students could search for classmates through name and school. But it is very limited - searching through keywords or even majors are not working well.

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The suggestions on My Network (People you may know from/in/with) are the only ways for students to discover their campus classmates who have no connections. However, it does not help students to connect or message to them.

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The current school page is not actively used. There are no ways to find students or alumni on the school page.

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I decided to locate My Campus during the process to access View Profile to increase accessibility. Also, considering that the lists of groups or pages that users are following are also shown on this page, I thought that it is appropriate.

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My Campus was designed to be a separate space from the public school page. I considered extending features from the existing school page, but I realized that it is difficult to edit the fundamental structures.

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I thought about showing the lists of classmates with similar interests. However, I realized that to initiate the conversation, students need more detail information and specific topics.

Design & Iterations

Quick Evaluations with Low-Fidelity Prototypes 

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Wireframe & Main Features

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Prototype & Possible Scenarios

1. Introducing My Campus on Profile

Considering many students feel inadequacy about their career profiles on LinkedIn, My Campus is introduced while they are updating a profile. It emphasizes that great opportunities are not far away but here on your campus.

2. Simple Onboarding Process

Since My Campus is focusing on discovering commonalities between classmates on campus, students are asked to fill out their academic experience and personal interests, not professional. Most students could feel easy to fill out those.

While students are adding information, suggested tags keep being updated based on data, which makes the process much smoother. 

3. High Accessibility

In order to increase the accessibility, My Campus is located inside the menu that users have to go through to see their profile. The pop-up box appears for the first users.

4-a. Connecting Opportunities through Courses and Similar Interests

My Campus suggests courses that classmates with similar interests have taken. Students could not only find new interesting courses but also easily start a conversation with classmates that they haven't known. The conversation could be more active and informal because they both have shared interests. They could even meet in-person, which could help them build a stronger network.

4-b. Collaboration Opportunities across Majors/Departments

Students could find posts looking for teammates even for personal projects or competitions because anyone could create them. The posts are shared with classmates with similar interests, which increases the possibility for collaboration across the campus. The appropriate team matching will lead to great results, which will eventually increase professional opportunities.

How It Makes Difference

Current Classmates Are Future Alumni

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Through LinkedIn My Campus, students' connections could be not even broader but also stronger. Connection to campus classmates with shared interests and commonalities will help students pursue their passion together. Furthermore, after a few years when some classmates become alumni, a close connection with them could increase professional opportunities.

Copyright 2020 Jay (Jaeyeon) Huh. All rights reserved. 

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