Role: UX Researcher
Methodology: User Interviews
- The Challenge: To develop the user flow for the mentor’s user journey, we needed to understand the perspective of experienced mentors.
- The Solution: We conducted generative user interviews with a diverse set of mentors in the LGBTQ+ community.
- The Impact: The insights we gleaned from interviews informed not just the UI, but design of the actual mentorship program.
📓 Context + Priorities
- Sean’s Legacy Mentorship is an organization dedicated to career and educational mentoring of LGBTQ+ young adults
- Target user: 18-25 year old, LGBTQ+, living in the U.S., looking for educational and/or professional support
- Timeline: 3 weeks to recruit, complete user interviews, complete analysis/synthesis, and share recommendations and findings. Conducted concurrently with other studies.
- Create a sense of safety and privacy on the platform
- Build an enticing, clear, and easy-to-use mentor sign up flow
❓ Research Goals, Assumptions + Research Questions
- Objective: Gain an in depth understanding of the experiences and needs of LGBTQ+ mentors in order to develop an effective and engaging mentorship platform
- The experiences of LGBTQ+ mentors on other mentorship platforms can be translated into their experience on our platform
- LGBTQ+ mentors have unique needs and experiences that may not be understood or expressed by non-LGBTQ+ mentors
- What barriers to successful mentorship have LGBTQ+ mentors faced?
- How have mentors utilized mentorship platforms or programs in the past?
- What were their pain points and unmet needs in previous programs?
- What motivated them to mentor?
- How do they measure their success as a mentor?
🛠 Teams, Tools + Ownership
- My role: Researcher on a team with four other researchers
- My team was tasked with conducting research for two design teams and a content/writing team
- Google Forms, Sheets, Docs
- Zoom + Otter.ai
- Comparative analysis of LGBTQ+ mentorship platforms
- Meeting the research needs of two design teams focused on different areas of the product, and the content team
- Generative user interviews and usability studies
- Research analysis and synthesis + translation into insights and recommendations
🪜 Methods and Process
Previous research had focused on the mentee experience. As the design teams were preparing to design the user flow for mentors, we realized that we needed more information about mentor needs and experiences.
We began by interviewing stakeholders in our organization, and conducting a competitive analysis, to understand the problem space, potential solutions, and knowledge gaps.
- 💡Key decision: Recruiting experienced LGBTQ+ mentors
- We created a screener to ensure diversity in race, gender identity, sexual identity, and geographical location
- We had dove deep on secondary research to ensure we were following ethical standards in our recruitment and study design, to avoid inflicting harm on this already marginalized population
Conducting User Interviews
- The research team conducted interviews in pairs, rotating to make sure that everyone got a chance to sit in on at least 2 interviews
- We completed 6 interviews and made a decision to stop based on an early review of transcripts indicating that we were seeing consistent themes
Planning User Interviews
- We first met with leads from the product, design, and content teams to clarify our research goals
- The research team then divided up study preparation tasks: Screener creation, outreach, participant scheduling, refinement of research goals + questions, and the creation of the discussion guide
- We confirmed our interview guide with the design team
Analysis and Synthesis
- The team worked together to code our interview transcripts using a mix of inductive and deductive codes
- We pulled quotes based on coding into affinity maps on FigJam
- We learned that it would have been more effective to use coding to establish parent codes, but wait until affinity mapping to establish child codes
🗒 Research Artifacts + Learnings
After finishing our coding and affinity mapping, we needed to share our insights and recommendations with stakeholders.
For all of our assets, we considered:
- Stakeholder needs: Customizing both the content and the method of sharing.
- Learning styles: Because not everyone learns the same way.
- Timing: Juggling schedules and keeping on track with the product roadmap.
Process: From findings, to insights, to sharing out:
High-level Summary of Learnings:
- Mentors distinguish the value derived from different types and lengths of mentorship relationships in consistent ways
- Mentors crave the experience of being helpful, and this is promoted by careful matching of mentee needs with mentor abilities
- Most mentorship programs do not provide enough support and training for mentors to feel confident starting out
- Safety and privacy are especially important to LGBTQ+ mentors, and there is also a desire to share identity for matching purposes
- Mentors seek growth and community through connections to other mentors
The insights and recommendations we provided resulted in significant adjustments and additions to the Sean’s Legacy mentorship program.
A few examples:
- Expansion of mentor training, resources, and support
- Change: Mentor profiles cannot be viewed without creating a verified account
- Addition: Mentee goal tracking feature
Content and Design
As the research team was conducting interviews, the content team and one of our design teams were working on prototypes of the mentor sign-up flow. Our findings resulted in recommendations that shaped our initial prototype.
A few examples:
- Strategic emphasis on safety, support, and privacy of mentors throughout the sign up flow
- Use of language utilized by mentors describing motivators and impact of mentoring to encourage sign up
- LGBTQ+ specific messaging and supports deemed essential and relevant by interviewees
After completing this study, I reflected on some of the key decisions I made with my team, and their impact on the project.
💡Recruiting the Right Users:
- Recognizing that our future users may or may not be experienced mentors, and that experienced LGBTQ+ mentors could be hard to come by, we debated expanding our recruitment criteria
- We ultimately decided that we would get the most useful information from users that closely met our target criteria, even if it meant spending more time and effort recruiting them
💡Planning for Privacy:
- Before beginning this study, I realized that we did not have clearly defined policies and procedures for maintaining user research data privacy
- I lead the initiative to create a formal Privacy Plan, drafting the language with feedback from my team
- The Privacy Plan has since been refined, disseminated, and used for other research initiatives