UX Research Case Study — Finding a Better Way to Guide your Career

UX Design and research case study is done to add career guidance feature on an E-Learning Application

Role : UX Researcher, UX Designer
Technology Used : Photoshop, Illustrator and Figma

  • Problem statement
  • 5W Question to understand the problem statement
  • Desk Research
  • Primary Research
  • User Set
  • Empathy map
  • Persona
  • HMW Questions
  • Low Fidelity Wireframes
  • High Fidelity Wireframes
  • Final UI Screens
  • User Testing
  • Refined Prototype
  • Retrospective

10th & 12th-grade students are usually unclear about their career path as there are so many new fields of profession every day. An e-learning app wants to help its students understand the direction map of what they are good at in what they are studying to existing career options.

An e-learning app found 10th and 12th grade students are unclear about their career path as they do not know about the different fields or professions that they can explore. As a UX Designer, you want to understand the behavior of students with respect to their decisions related to career and the factors that influence their decisions. Plan a research to identify the factors for the business.

5 W’s Exercise to understand The problem statement Better:

Who is looking for a career opportunity?
We will have to find out who actually is looking for the career option.
Is it either high school students or higher secondary students or college students.

Who can make career decisions very independently?
We will have to find out on what leverage of independence user get to choose their career choice by searching the statistical data about them.

Who are we, as career guidance providers, trying to solve the problem for?
To the users who are uncertain about their career choice and not really knowing the consequence of the decision. therefore I will have to find out on the fact of the users uncertainty in terms of their career choice

What factors most influence the decision to pursue a particular career path?
There must be some factors that will be behind any decision making, like wise what will be those factor which would influence the users decision while making their career choice, so I will have to search in terms of the influencing factors which will impact on the decision of the user.

What age group is most likely to need career guidance?
We will have to find which age group will need the guidance the most. It might be school students or graduates or even the working people!! we might not know that, so will have to figure it out by looking into some data

What are all the sources people use to find career opportunities?
When it comes to career choice what are all the sources which user is looking out to help themself. Are they really looking out for information or not really, so I will have to find out on the users behavior in terms of their knowledge search

What will happen if a student does not know about the career opportunities available to him?
every action will have its own reaction perhaps we will all have to look into the consequence of the users making a wrong decision in terms of career choice. how it could affect him as well as the community which he belong to

What inspires the most for a user to choose his career ? Is it wealth ? honer ? or his passion ?
we should understand the users motive while choosing their career path this could help us to know him better to resolve his problem and stream line his career path.

What are the concerns when it comes to choosing the users career path ?
what are all the emotional factors which the user comes across while choosing the their career interest. so we will have to find out their levels of emotions which plays a major roll in their choice

When is the major career decisions are made ? is it during 10th or 12th or graduation ?
we might think it is during the high school but it necessarily not be the case. it may differ so i will have to figure this out as well.

Why is career guidance needed for anybody ?
Do career guidance is really needed for a person. what is the demand of career guidance professional? what is the situation which exist presently in India. Here we will have to find out the real scenario of the career councilor roll in the life of the user

Stage 1 — Understand

After understanding the given problem statement with the help of 5W exerciser, it was much easier for me to go ahead with my desk research where I looked into multiple research forms to find out the facts and statistical data relating to the problem statement. which further helped me on the ideation stage.

Firstly lets see some of the factual data followed by behavioral insights which which were sourced from different new articles and research data forms.

93% of the students are aware of just seven career options — law, engineering, medicine, accounts and finance, design, computer applications and IT, and management.

Source link — https://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/news/story/93-indian-students-aware-of-just-seven-career-options-what-are-parents-doing-wrong-1446205-2019-02-04

There are 250 career options in India — most new and in-demand.

India’s 350 million students — the biggest student population in the world — need at least 1.4 million career counsellors to maintain a globally acceptable student-to-school-counselor ratio.

Around 85% of students are concerned about which option to choose for higher education and 92% don’t get any career related guidance from their schools.

India endures an 87% shortage of professionals in the field of counseling.

Three million students apply for 11,000 seats in IITs. This clearly shows that student are not taking informed choices to pursue what you want instead what their friends wants to become.

According to researches, 85 percent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet.

If parents and teachers can build their own awareness regarding new career options coming up, then they can be a very helpful part in their child’s career decisions rather than being one of those parents who push their child into one of the most common careers

“Very often we come across students who have a broad idea of what they wish to do but don’t have the resources to plan it end to end.

The ideal age to start considering career counseling is 13–14 years where they start with subject exploration and selection and then work towards career selection. Giving enough time to plan will even out the stress and give them time to engage in critical thinking

Students need guidance and coaching for career development like any other discipline taught in schools

Students will benefit immensely when empower high schools and colleges with professional development opportunities and guide students on what to study, where to study, and how to prepare for a successful career

Schools aren’t investing enough to appoint qualified counselors who are skilled at the task of assisting students to sort out their thought process

Every year majority of young minds are confused while choosing streams and careers.

Parents want their children to become doctor and engineer and never ask them about their choice.

There is a lack of education on career developments in India which is a root cause for major problem like unemployment, skill gap with the resources.

Schools don’t prepare our children for these careers and new-age skills. This causes considerable stress in teenagers when choosing a possible career path for themselves.

Fear of not finding a passion to base their career on — Many of them are confused and have no idea of what they want. This leads to choosing a career based on more arbitrary things, such as family expectations, possible financial success, or trends

With little to no work experience opportunities, students might have unrealistic expectations of what their job is like

Based on the desk research we can conclude that there is
◘Business need and it is so obvious in terms of career counseling
◘ Users — students lake knowledge and assistance of their career
◘ Students need assistance in either setting the goal or have a broad idea of what they wish to do but need assistance to plan it end to end.

Despite all these very useful and insightful data points, we still do not know what are the users’ pain points in the real life scenario, what are their motivation factors, what influences them, how do they make decisions, and are they fully aware of both the positive and negative aspects of their career path, and so on .

To overcome this, I conducted interviews with five students and with a school career counselor who has been in this field for about six years.

Because she has been doing career counseling to DIFFERENT USERS of our target audience. so before even starting with my user interviews i first decided to interview a career guidance counselor to understand how the user groups behave and approach their career decisions. which helped me a lot while talking with the users

  • Whenever we help them to identify their strengths, values, and interests, and if the results conflict with their desire, they become depressed and unable to accept any suggestions or feedback

Students mostly go ahead with one career option but when it comes to reality anything might happen so I always advise and give my students a second option based on their strengths. This could help them to tackle any last minute surprises.

  • Plan B should always be available if plan A fails, so that the kids do not feel that their lives are over and become suicidal. Most of the kids I know struggle with thoughts of suicide when plan A fails. Because they are very self-critical and underestimate themselves.
  • During this pandemic, students of 2019–2021 are very vague in terms of setting their career goals because they are destined to socialize among their peers. This also contributes to their depression.

Most of the kids are pretty sure of what they want to pursue but not really know how to root map their goal to achieve it. So I mostly give guidance on what skills they need to acquire and acquire them without harming their choices.

  • According to me students first get inspired by their parents followed by teachers and surprisingly spiritual inspiration.
  • I have worked across multiple ranges of schools, from government to international schools. My opinion is that students in international boards are very clear in setting their goals compared with other board students, and that is solely because they have been given career development education from grade 9. So they are well aware of all the career opportunities and more importantly they have time to think, analyse and then decide upon their career.

I find most of the students very smart and multi talented irrespective of their schools and boards. The difference i see here is students who lack information as well as proper guidance from parents and teachers

Target users

In order to conduct a relevant user interviews I first have to determine and define the Research Target User inline with the problem statement

Without further do I went a head and prepared questioners to be asked on the 1v1 interview, and also prepared a simple google form to recruit users for the interview.

After the interviews the insights driven for the users was way beyond my thoughts. when i first got the problem statement i had some assumptions about the users but when i spoke to them I felt the real necessity of user interview!! my assumption about them was totally different, This clearly shows that
ME is not equal to the user.

  • Some users feel confident in relying mainly on their parents’ decisions
  • Some users decide on their own and seek approval and suggestions from their parents.
  • Students choose careers based on their interests and strengths. Based on their past achievements, they discover what their strengths are

“Students are confused while searching information related to their career because they are over whelmed with a lot of data”

  • As a result of not giving enough time to decide, users undergo a great deal of mental agony and frustration while making their career choice. Most students have their career discussions during their 10th grade.

Users want to know how the actual work will be and they want to try it to see if they are interested.

• They are unaware and ignorant of all the career opportunities currently available.

• Many of them have a general idea of what they want to achieve, but do not have the road maps to get there

They are interested in learning skills that could contribute to their career development.

• There are limitations in the school itself because most schools only offer the most common courses in 11th grade.

• Some of them have received their career education from their teachers.

Key verbatim from the users

User 1: My mom wanted me to take science group so I took it and they wanted me to become a nurse

User 2 : My parents encourages me to learn anything I like.

User 3 : I always want some one to guide me and that some one is my mom and google

user 4 : Though i wanted to take fashion designing course I ended up with commerce group because my school had only limited groups.

User 5 : I wanted to learn those skills which will help me in my profession

STAGE 2 — DEFINE

After understanding the users well, I have come up with two users sets based on my research data.

  1. Parent Driven ( Dependent ): She always depended on her parents for any sort of decisions and not much aware of other career opportunities. she is also confident about her parents decision on her career choice because she feels her parents decisions are much better then hers.
  2. Self Driven ( Explorers ): She is always in search of opportunities and tries a lot of stuffs this eventually helped them to find out their passion but lacks guidance and get confused when she is overwhelmed with information and don’t know how to go about.

To be more specific about the target audience of whom we are going to solve the problem for, I have created a Persona representing a group of users. Here among my two user sets I am going to ahead with self driven user set because solving this user ( self driven )set could also help the other user set ( parent driven )as well.

HMW questions allows us to focus only on our problem areas without deviating in any way while solving it

How might we help our user to know skill required for her profession

How might we help the users to experience the world of work

How might we help our user to learn the skills which is required to be successful in her career

STAGE 3 — IDEATE

Customized Profession page — here we can provide all the information which is only related to her career choice and also give her other career options which she can chose based on her specialization. if she finds it difficult to set career goal or any other assistance related to her career will be sorted out by talking to a career counselor.

Skills Required page — Here we will show those skills which is required for a successful career path and also provide a shot test to help them understand where thy stand and also help them to improve on them

Gain Work Experience page — Here we can help the user to find internship relevant to his career goal which will help him gain work experience along her with her studies and also apply for the same.

Solutioning the my ideas — basically rough sketching my ideas on a paper

Our Focus is solving the problem of confused student who wants guidance in terms of What skills she would require to become successful in her career choice and also help him meet his need to experience the world of work.

In the below screen the user will get the list of careers to choose from and he will have to opt the one which he decided earlier.

Once after selecting the career choice she will get her personalized page which will have all the necessary information related to her career choice.

problem solved

  • Major focused problem is first solved in the customized profession page
    1. helping the user to learn skill which will help in her profession life
    2. Helping her to find internship to gain work experience along with her studies.
  • Her need for assistance to find out the best options for choosing universities and reliable information related to her field is also solved here
  • Here we have provided options to know other opportunities to which could also be perused based on the user specialization — This will give her the knowledge and comparison between the career options and also to have a second career option as well.
  • The app also provides connecting with a counselor option when ever the user needs personal assistance.

Flow I from the customized professional page

In this screen the app will provide the set of skills which will be required for the users professional career

Problem being solved knowing the skill and the level of proficiency

  • The user will come to know the top required skills for them to be successful in their career
  • we are also giving them “test your skills” option for them to know their level of proficiency

The user will be given with multiple choice question to test his knowledge. after attending all the questions the “submit” button will be enabled for the user to submit his answers

The result screen appears, once after the questions are submitted. we will also help the user to improve his skills by providing him with the skill development courses which already exist in the same app.

Problem being solved — To educate where the user stands in his skill set as well as providing the opportunity to learn the skill .

  • The result screen will be a motivation for the user to develop him self
    which will eventually help him in his career as well as to the society for resolving the skill gap exist in the industry

Iteration on result screen : first I just provided the result and suggest him to take a course, will be shown in the next screen, if the user selects “learn now” option.

Then I thought to list the suggested course in the result screen itself before even him choosing “learn now” or “not now” options. There might be more possibility in terms of him to choose one of the courses against going with out learning, hypothesis!!

Flow II from the customized professional page

This screen will appear when the user clicks “Gain work experience as you learn” option from the customized professional page.

Problem being solved to find internship opportunities for the user

  • There are many employers will most likely have their own age restrictions set at 16 years old or above because there are many laws regulating the number of hours and type of work children below 16 can do. so it is important to filer data along with some common fields like job location, nature and duration of work.
  • Once when the inputs are got from the user the data will validate and show only the employers who are willing to take those candidates who are below 16 or above 16 based on the input.

Iteration on work experience screen :In my initial design I had two screens (below on the left side)to collect the input from the user and later combined both the screens into one screen to avoid number of clicks from the user and also it could reduce the development cost as well.

Once when the app validates the data inputs from the user, he will get those internship opportunities which is very specific to his career.

Problem being solved — providing the work opportunity for the user

  • The user will get clear and right opportunity for him to choose for and apply for the same.
  • Every employers offer is listed using accordion list type where if the user is interested he can use the apply option
  • The user finally finds his work opportunity in a click away.

Iteration on list of law firms screen :In first screen, I made a list of firms with out having any filter option which will be helpful if the list is more to be contained in the first screen. so a filter is added in the iterated screen. Also in the initial screen there was no way for the user to go back and that was also added in the iterated screen to achieve a better user flow.

when the user attempts to apply to any of his choice a pop up screen to upload resume will appear. where the user will be allowed to submit his resume to the concerned employer.

STAGE 4— PROTOTYPE

Once when all the iteration and thought process is freezes it is time to dress up our skeleton with some nice color and info-graphics (UI comes in place)

For this project purpose I have chosen “PRACTICALLY” as the base App to connect our user flow. Below is the home screen of “PRACTICALLY” App where I have included a banner for introducing the career guide feature to the students (users) who have are already using the E-Learning platform.

From the base app the user is directed to the list of career page where he will be allowed to chose the career of his choice and he will be given a customized career page. Search option is also given to the user to select his choice of career easily

This is the main page where the user flow starts !! With this screen we can achieve the following scenarios

From User Stand point

  1. Helping the user to know what actual skills is needed to be successful in his career.
  2. Get the user internship opportunity to experience the world of work.
  3. Getting all the information related to the users career choice like in terms of where to study (university finder), dates of entrance exams which the user should be aware of (Important dates ) and other information will be covered in informative blog section.
  4. If the user wants any personal counselling session for clarifying any doubts, confusions in terms of career choice he can connect with a professional councilor from “Talk to our Advisor” section
  5. Since our user are not much aware of other career options in their specializations we will give him the opportunity to know them too. this will either give him the confidence about his choice or even he could switch his interest to another career. In either way he is taking informed decisions about his career.

From Business Stand point

  1. By providing the required skills feature to a user the business can actually make business by selling the suggested course to him and also increases the user engagement and retention inside the App.
  2. By helping the user to find internship we are creating a new opportunity for the E-learning providers to venture into a new concept of job portal.

Flow one — from the personalized career page if the user chooses the skill required option he will be landing in list of skills set page

Here the user will be given multiple choice questions to attempt. once when he is done, he will be able to submit his answers

From User Stand point

This screen comes after the completing the test, which will display his results along with relevant course suggesting the user to pick and also help him to improve on his skill

From Business Stand point

  • This solution is actually helping in terms of user engagement and user retention as well.
  • Suggesting a course to the user, will definitely improve the business opportunity because the E-Learning App is already into teaching the academics of the user, now the business finds opportunity to introduce skill development course as well.

Flow two : From the personalized career page the user will reach this page if he selects “Gain work experience” option.

This screen will get the necessary data from the user to validate and provide the user the relevant opportunity for the user to do internship.

This screen show the list of internship opportunity, if the user wants to know about any of the firm, he can click on the name and get the information about the intern firm

To which ever opportunity he is interested he can apply to that firm by clicking on the apply button.

Once when the interest is raised the below screen will pop up, asking to upload the resume and the uploaded resume will be sent to the concerned employer.

Stage 5 — Testing

This solution was put to test among users to find any potential usability issues in the product. For testing I have prepared a task based questioner where It was given to the real user along with the prototype. while conducting the test the user I asked them to “think aloud” and give their thoughts and I also asked some probing questions to find out more in terms of their understanding level.

The App is very simple and easy to understand and the information regarding to a specific career goal is very useful and helpful

The user had difficulty in reading ( English language ) and not able to understand the course suggestion part on the result page.

  • The course suggestions on the result screen could be more prominent
  • Language option can be included.

Helps us to plan our career well and stay focused in our career and the internship feature was very useful and also helps us find the most relevant internship.

The user wanted to know more about the job requirement before applying to the company for internship and also she wanted to know the score for her test instead of star rating

  • Instead of star rating we can give score for clear understanding
  • We can add job requirements on the list of firms page

Refined Prototype

1. Adding language feature

During the user interview, the students were experiencing difficulty reading and understanding the English language. We need to help users from different cultural backgrounds understand the features of the app and benefit from it. Therefore, a language option is added to the app as a pop up notification.

2. Making the course suggestion prominent and changing the star rating to marks scored

User wanted to know on how many questions she answered correctly and how many she got wrong and also she did not understand the course suggestions were made to her. So in the refined prototype,
1. The star rating was replaced by percentage and marks scored by the student.
2. the course section was made more prominent then the text on the screen

3. Adding internship requirement

The user liked the internship feature but she also wanted to know the requirements of the company before she applies for the same. So in the refined prototype, a requirement section was included under the short intro of the company.

CONCLUSION

Challenges faced :

1. During user interview it was quite difficult to make the some students talk and bring them into the conversation mode.
2. Connecting the user insights and the data points from the desk research was a bit challenging. This is because there will be plenty of data that may not directly relate to the problem statement, but might be indirectly related. Therefore, I needed to take a stand on what to take into consideration. This was quite challenging!

Improvements which can be done :

Internship finding feature can be improvised further which will create a new opportunity for the existing business as well as this could make their existing users to be retained even after their school education.

I would appreciate your feedback on my case study at winslet367@gmail.com

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