© 2018 by Sarah Young

Ideal Student is an app created by Insighful Decisions, Inc., an ed-tech startup that helps students achieve the trajectory they need to accomplish their goals. For this project, I was tasked with creating a system that helps students plan for college, while also helping them explore their other interests.

Project Overview

The first step was to develop a research plan that included subject-matter expert interviews, user interviews, and a competitive analysis. The first step was to figure out how students currently plan for college in order to make sure our design fit within their current mental model. I talked to teachers and guidance counselors in order to gather this information.


Next, I interviewed potential users. They were students aged from 12 to 19 years old. I was interested in learning about their current social media habits, how they currently manage their time, and how they have started the college-planning process.



The chart below shows the findings from the competitive analysis. To-do list apps, as well as academic apps, were evaluated during this exercise.



Through the research synthesis, a few key takeaways were discovered the rest of the design process: 
1. Students/users always have their phones on them.
2. Students/users seem to be more concerned about their daily and weekly tasks rather than long-term tasks.
3. All of the users interviewed used Snapchat, Instagram, or Twitter regularly.

User personas based on the people interviewed were developed. Then, I walked through some scenarios with those users in order to think about how they might interact with the app. Those user personas and scenarios are displayed below.



In keeping with the research, I decided to design a native app rather than a web application in order to make it more appealing to the demographic. Several students mentioned taking pictures to remember homework, among other things. The client's vision was to have the system provide recommendations for college and extracurriculars. My goal was to design an app that students could interact with daily while being provided with recommendations that helped them reach their post-high school goals.

In this scenario, Janine learns about an app that sends her friend college suggestions. She downloads the app and begins to receive recommendations based on her interests and goals.

In this scenario, Andrew takes a picture of his homework and receives a reminder later at home about what he needs to do for his math homework.


Users can see a "snapshot" what needs to be done today, this week, and each month.


Users can set reminders for tasks or "snaps." 

Social Interactions

Users can connect with other users who have similar interests and goals by joining groups based on their particular interests/goals.