Crafting the narrative for Hodophile; A helping hand for relocation.
In today’s increasingly globalized world, more and more people are choosing to live, work and study abroad. And relocation is hard work, with plenty of potential complications to tripping along the way. How might we design a much enjoyable experience for people who are condersing or have made the decision to relocate?
This project is a individual academic project that involves the conceptualisation of an experience or problem space that we would like to work on through the adoption of various UX frameworks and methodologies.
The double diamond methodology was adopted, and leveraging on mixed methods such as surveys, user interviews, personas, usability testing etc. to create and craft the narrative for Hodophile.
Design a solution to improve people's experience through a novel digital project.
Having been through the relocation process recently myself, I understand and empathise on the struggles and difficulties most people may face during their relocation process, such as language, transportation and socialisation etc. Hence, the problem space that I chose to further explore into was the challenges people face when moving to a new country. I know from personal experience how difficult this can be, especially when you make the move on your own and don’t know what to do or who to turn to for advice.
Discover - Academic Research
The transition and psychological effects of moving overseas
An extensive academic research was carried out to explore and understand the psychological effects moving overseas has on people, with multiple academic papers citing the transition of moving overseas as being characterized by a “moving out” stage, followed by “moving in” to the new situation and absorbing the norms and rules of the new place, until the individual can successfully “move through”, or navigate and survive in, the new world. Furthermore, besides psychological aspects of a new transitions, there are many other challenges faced such as the complex process of applying to university abroad and obtaining a visa occupies much of the attention of prospective migrants. These include completing and financing visa applications, visa interview(s) or counselling as well as coping with the anxiety of being refused a visa. Common reasons for visas being turned down include: not supplying original documents, not being able to demonstrate sufficient funds and using counterfeit documents. As many authors have pointed out, the transition if often is eased with adequate preparation. And Several studies have found that migrants who did not adequately prepare, or had unrealistic expectations, were more likely to suffer from depression. When moving to a distant country, people are often reliant on very limited sources of information to help them prepare for the transition and hence, creates potential complications tripping along the way that results in a downward spiral of emotions.
Discover - Quantitative Research
With the understanding of the transitional phase and psychological effects that could affect people moving overseas, a set of survey questions was crafted to further understand and gain insights into the main challenges of the moving overseas process and the survey results gathered was from 52 respondents.
of the respondents stated that their main reason for moving to a foreign country was because of studies and 30% stated that they have lived in the foreign country for less than a year.
of the respondents found that making social connections was the most challenging, followed by accommodation, immigration process and cultural differences.
Discover - Qualitative Research
Taking into consideration the insights gathered from the academic research and survey, interviews was carried out with 5 foreigners living in New Zealand to dive deeper into the challenges that faced before, during and after the relocation process. Questions asked during the interview includes: • Could you tell me a bit about your moving abroad experience? • What was the most difficult part of the moving abroad process? • During this difficult part of your moving abroad process, how did you feel? • Is there something that you wish you had, that would have made your experience better?
After the interviews, not only a much clearer view of the problem space was presented, but also a better understanding of the problem I was seeking to solve.To pinpoint the central or most prominent problem to solve, a series of affinity mapping using data gathered from the survey and interviews was carried out.
Discover - Deeper Insights
The affinity map was a crucial moment to identify the area of focus. Empathizing and understanding who they are, what they go through, and what they are experiencing is crucial to try and understand how to potentially solve their problems. Combining the insights gathered through the academic research and surveys, deeper insights was gathered through the three phases of their journey.
They would like to have a guide and better information on the country that they are moving to and they find it stressful and frustrating during the immigration process, which includes many administrative paper work to fill up and there is no way for them to check for their application updates.
They would like to have a support system or someone familiar with the country’s landscape to guide them during their process.
They find it difficult to adjust and settle down in a new country because of the difference in culture, they find it difficult to make new friends in a foreign country and they feel homesick living in a foreign country, without any friends and family around.
Define - Reframing the problem space
How might we ease the roadblocks and challenges faced by people before and during their moving abroad process?
Taking into consideration of the timeframe and project scale, the first phase of the project is targeted at solving the problem space before and during the relocation process instead of after the relocation process, because that is the first inception point and most crucial process for anyone and everyone who had made the decision to move abroad. This leads to the question on:
Who are we designing the experience for? And what’s their job to be done (JTBD)?
Define - Personas
Two personas was crafted from the insights gathered from the qualitative and qualitative research methods to illustrate their goals, pain points and needs.
Main Persona: Theresa Jamie | Fresh Undergraduate Student | Adventurer who has decided to take a leap of faith to pursue her masters degree
Secondary Persona: Dave Jones | Working Professional | Workaholic who has to relocate due to his work
Define - Storyboards
The initial storyboard sketches for both of the personas focused on the specific tasks that they have to go through in each stage of their moving abroad process. The storyboard starts from the moment they decide/know they have to relocate to New Zealand, follow by the moving abroad process (immigration, pre-arrival research etc.) and when they have arrived in New Zealand, at each stage, they have specific uncertainties around the process that they have to go through. And the to-be state of the moving abroad journey is illustrated in the revised storyboards for both personas - life with hodophile. As illustrated below.
Define - User Story Mapping
Before the user stories are being mapped out, the phases of moving abroad and their goals are written down to ensure that the user stories are crafted based on the various phase of their moving abroad journey and goals.
01. The Process 02. Visa application 03. Sorting out accommodation 04. Understanding the country's culture and environment 05. Pre-arrival 06. Visa status 07. Sorting out accommodation 08. Understanding the country's culture and environment 09. Sorting out transportation options 10. Getting help from friends and family 11. Ensuring that everything is settled
01. To be able to adjust and settle down in New Zealand smoothly 02. Make new friends 03. To call New Zealand home 04. Understand the culture and blend in; not being the odd one
Phases of Moving Abroad
01. Migrants who are making the move to New Zealand 02. Locals - Kiwis and others who have been living in New Zealand/been through the moving abroad journey who wants to help migrants
01. As a migrant, I want to transition smoothly into New Zealand so that I can start my new phase of life. 02. As a migrant, I want to forge social connections with people in New Zealand so that I will not feel home sick. 03. As a migrant, I want to be able to have a basic understanding of the life in New Zealand before arriving in the country so that I know what to expect what I arrive. 04. As a migrant, I want to navigate through the country with the help of locals so that I can meet new people and understand the culture from a local’s perspective. 05. As a migrant, I want to know the various information such a healthcare, transportation etc. so that I know what are the options for me when situation arises. 06. As a local, I want to help migrants through their moving abroad journey so that they can see what New Zealand has to offer. 07. As a local, I want to be able to answer any questions they may have through their moving abroad journey so that they have a smooth transition into New Zealand. 08. As a local, I want to be able to share my experience through specific journey so that others would know what to take note of.
Develop - High Fidelity Design
The next step was to develop hi-fidelity wireframes of the app, taking into consideration the user stories and feedback from the informal usability testing. The user stories that was prioritised for the Minimal Viable Product (MVP) of Hodophile includes:
01. As a migrant, I want to transition smoothly into New Zealand so that I can start my new phase of life. 02. As a migrant, I want to be able to have a basic understanding of the life in New Zealand before arriving in the country so that I know what to expect what I arrive. 03. As a migrant, I want to navigate through the country with the help of locals so that I can meet new people and understand the culture from a local’s perspective. 04. As a migrant, I want to know the various information such a healthcare, transportation etc. so that I know what are the options for me when situation arises.
Develop - Usability Testing
A couple of rounds of iterations was done based on the initial usability testing findings and as more usability testing was conducted.
Develop - Iterations
Usability testing was conducted with 5 users - 4 students and 1 working professional whom have just moved over to New Zealand in the past 2 years.
Future Product Roadmap
The next phase of the product roadmap would include the addition of the remaining user stories, most importantly, local view of the app. How the local view of the app is envisioned to be a list of request for help from migrants and a profile view of the migrants, with the areas that they need help as the main content hierarchy and locals will be able to connect (message) with them to provide assistance in the area(s) that they need help in.
User stories for the next phase: 01. As a migrant, I want to forge social connections with people in New Zealand so that I will be home sick. 02. As a migrant, I want to navigate through the country with the help of locals so that I can meet new people and understand the culture from a local’s perspective. 03. As a local, I want to help migrants through their moving abroad journey so that they can see what New Zealand has to offer. 04. As a local, I want to be able to answer any questions they may have through their moving abroad journey so that they have a smooth transition into New Zealand. 05. As a local, I want to be able to share my experience through specific journey so that others would know what to take note of.
More concept and usability testing will be required as well to further validate the use case of the app and gather more insights into areas that require changes to suit various phases of the moving abroad journey and situations that may arise.
Time management is the key in a 4 weeks project, often times more and more features popped up and as the project moves forward, feature prioritisation becomes impossible as everything seems like an important feature for a product’s MVP. However, when situation like this arises, going back to the root of the problem that we are trying to solve helps in prioritisation, and avoids adding good to have features that may/may not help solve the problem space. Creating magic in a product ain't easy, but adding essence of magic in the form of a narrative flow is a baby step to creating good products that targets an existing problem and aid in solving that problem.
"Often the most difficult path lead to the best results. It’s not about how fast you get there, what matters is how you get there and the learnings you take out of it."