Information Architecture (IA) Design
Facilitator for one sprint
Praxis Impact is a client relationship management platform for universities, facilitating experiential learning at scale. It solves the challenge of managing potential partners by replacing cumbersome Excel sheets with a tailored CRM platform. It also addresses the lack of an organization-level process for managing experiential learning by offering a process modeling tool for customization.
Praxis Impact streamlines the management of experiential learning opportunities, overcoming the issue of varying nomenclature used by different organizations. It provides an efficient and effective solution for universities, enhancing the facilitation of experiential learning.
Long term goal: Create a partner-client relationship management platform to facilitate experiential learning opportunies at a larger scale.
Praxis Impact tackles the challenge of managing experiential learning opportunities at universities by offering a customized client relationship management platform. It eliminates the reliance on scattered Excel sheets and provides a standardized process through a process modeling tool, resulting in improved organization and efficiency.
Lack of a comprehensive solution
No end-to-end platform for the management of the program,
leading users to jump between apps.
As programs grow, managing spreadsheets to maintain a
repository of partners becomes difficult.
Shared trail of artifacts
The artifacts are often scattered, making it difficult for team
members to access past experiences.
Users are apprehensive about the sustainability of the
What is Experiential Learning?
Experiential Learning is the process of learning by doing. By engaging students in hands-on experiences and reflection, they are better able to connect theories and knowledge learned in the classroom to real-world situations.
Experiential learning opportunities exist in a variety of course- and non-course-based forms and may include community service, service-learning, undergraduate research, study abroad/away, and culminating experiences such as internships, student teaching, and capstone projects, to name a few.
When students participate in experiential education opportunities, they gain:
- A better understanding of course material
- A broader view of the world and an appreciation of community
- Insight into their own skills, interests, passions, and values
- Opportunities to collaborate with diverse organizations and people
- Positive professional practices and skill sets
- The gratification of assisting in meeting community needs
- Self-confidence and leadership skills
The key target users for this platform would be:
- University administrators and staff responsible for managing experiential learning programs
- Faculty members and instructors involved in experiential learning activities
- Students participating in experiential learning opportunities
- Employers or organizations that partner with universities for experiential learning opportunities
- Alumni or other stakeholders interested in supporting or participating in experiential learning programs.
These personas were derived from the user interviews conducted by us to understand the users through contextual inquiries and interviews to understand their process flow. These two personas encompassed the characteristics of different users we talked to and helped us prioritize the platform functionalities.
User Need Statements
Sam, a one person team
needs an easier way to manage his work effortlessly
in order to optimize his workflow and also make the knowledge transferable.
Caitlin, an assistant director for a team that manages experiential learning opportunities
needs a custom CRM-type platform for efficient task management and collaboration
in order to improve the scalability of her department’s experiential learning program and do it at a larger scale.
The 5-day sprint process is a design thinking framework developed by Google Ventures, consisting of structured activities and methods to help teams quickly prototype and test solutions to complex problems in a short period of time. The process involves understanding the problem, generating ideas, sketching and prototyping, user testing, and iterating. The goal of the process is to move from a problem to a validated solution within a week.
We modified the sprints to be of longer durations: 5 weeks each for sprints 1 and 2; 4 weeks each for sprints 3, 4 and 5. This allowed us to change the pace of the sprint process from a fast-paced schedule and allowed more room for experimentation and learning.
The sprint process for the Praxis Impact project involved several steps, including:
- Defining the sprint questions: The team defined specific questions to guide our work during each sprint.
- Conducting research: Using various research methods, such as contextual interviews, user testing with wireframes, co-design sessions, and process flow interviews, helped us gain a deeper understanding of the problem domain.
- Mapping the user journey: We mapped out the user journey to identify key touchpoints that were critical to the success of the platform.
- Brainstorming and ideation: We generated ideas and potential solutions to address the identified touchpoints.
- Design and prototyping: We designed and created prototypes of the platform, incorporating feedback from user testing and co-design sessions.
- Testing and validation: We conducted further user testing to validate their designs and identify any remaining issues.
- Refining and iterating: We refined and iterated on their designs based on user feedback and testing results.
- Sprint review and planning: We reviewed their progress at the end of each sprint and planned for the next sprint.
By following this process, the team was able to make progress towards our goal of creating a platform to facilitate experiential learning opportunities.
The mapping activity in the sprint process provided a shared understanding of the problem domain and goals. It identified key questions to focus on and mitigated risks.
During the mapping process, we identified five key touch points that the Praxis Impact platform would need to address:
- The first touch point involves finding and adding potential partners to the platform.
- The second touch point is creating and customizing the scope of work document within the platform. This document outlines the goals, objectives, and expectations for the project and needs to be customizable to meet the needs of each organization.
- The third touch point involves managing a partner profile on the platform and making it relevant to different users on the platform.
- The fourth touch point is the dashboard, which displays relevant data and actions to different users.
- The fifth touch point is project stages and activities management on a project page.
Here is a high-level IA of the product that we eventually landed on after the 5 sprints:
Lightning demos of existing interfaces were beneficial in preventing reinventing the wheel. During the sketch stage, the team generated various design solutions to address touchpoints, allowing for evaluation, combination, and refinement.
Sample sketches wireframed potential dashboard and project management solutions, including a KANBAN board inspired by project management platforms like Jira, aiding in scaling and managing multiple projects with minimal cognitive load for users. The sketch stage facilitated rapid prototyping, visualization, and user feedback, leading to informed design decisions.
Reflection: The stickers on these sketches represent votes from different team members as well as the client. As you can see, these designs were well received and I believe I was able to communicate my ideas well in this medium. This also allowed me to help detach from my ideas easily since I hadn’t invested much time in creating any designs. As a designer, I am continuously growing and learning more, and I feel sketching is the best way to just get the ideas out.
During the design process for the Praxis Impact case study, design decisions were made based on the insights gained from the research and analysis conducted during the previous stages. The design decisions were aimed at solving the stated stakeholder problem, which was the lack of a centralized platform to manage experiential learning partnerships.
The design team used the information gathered during the research process to create sketches, wireframes, and prototypes of the platform. We then conducted user testing with initial wireframes to gather feedback and insights from potential users. Based on this feedback, the design team iterated on the designs and made necessary changes to improve the usability and functionality of the platform.
Design decisions were also made to address specific touch points identified during the mapping process, such as finding and adding potential partners to the platform, creating and customizing the scope of work document, managing partner profiles, and displaying relevant data on the dashboard.
Overall, the design decisions were made with the goal of creating a user-friendly, customizable, and centralized platform to manage experiential learning partnerships. The design team ensured that the platform addressed the pain points identified during the research process and provided a solution that could be adapted to different organizational processes and requirements.
Custom workflows - Admin Panel
The process modelling helps users define their processes on the platform. This helps ensure a shared nomenclature and process is implemented that is tailored to a specific organization/school.
The processes defined in the admin flow then reflect across the platform and help a collaborative team manage everything in one place. This helps solve the problems users mentioned about multiple excel sheets shared across the teams.
To ensure that our solutions were user-friendly and effective, we conducted user testing with a diverse group of participants throughout different sprints. We collected feedback from the users and iterated our designs based on their input.
Final Prototype Testing - Key data points:
In addition to testing with our target users, we also tested with users from tangential backgrounds who may have some overlap with the target users. This helped us to gain a broader perspective and identify any usability issues that may have been missed otherwise. By incorporating user feedback into our design process, we were able to create a more refined and effective product that meets the needs of our target users.
What did the users say?
- Team understood pain points of users, formulated UX deliverables, and resolved them iteratively through design sprint process.
- Mapped workflows of different departments at UMD, and build a “customizable” solution.
- Team validated designs with end-users with user testing.
- Created a platform to aid the management and scaling of experiential learning opportunities.