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Engagement in MSU Freshman

MSU iOS Design Lab




UX Designer & Researcher

November 2019 - December 2019

Google Drive, Statista, Adobe Suite, Xcode


The Challenge

A member of Michigan State University’s administration presented a question to our lab, “how might we help students have a successful first year at MSU?” With this question, we were asked to investigate reasons why a student may not return after their freshman year.

The Solution

Analyzing data and researching students on campus, my team presented findings on the potential of a university-affiliated app that informs students on financial literacy.


Below are the steps of the design process for this project!

A graph showing three steps of a design process: user research, design, and evaluation

User Research

Empathize, Define

Our group began by delving into credible statistics to grasp how finances play a role in the life of college students. A large portion of our findings came from Statista, which offered infographics to aid these findings. Our research showed there was a possibility of an app helping MSU students, as well as students from other universities/colleges. We were then presented with the idea of partnering with universities to educate freshmen on literacy according to the specific school’s needs.


Our first task was to empathize with our target audience. Our team compiled out struggles and inconveniences based on our experiences as freshmen.

A picture of our group's first brainstorm about college student struggles

In order to create a solution for users, we had to get feedback that would support a call to action. On Instagram, our group compiled approximately 90 responses to the question, “what was the biggest struggle you faced freshman year?”

A powerpoint slide showing survey results for students that struggle with finances in college
A powerpoint slide showing survey results for the amount of students that contribute to their college finances


As we reviewed our results and drew connections between the responses, we defined our main opponent for the project: finances. Our team was finding that students were not fully aware of how their money was being used and how to use their resources in regards to college finances.

A picture of a whiteboard brainstorming solutions for college students' finances

Thinking in the context of the app development component of our lab, our team came to the conclusion that an app which educates students on the extent of their financial power in college would be a step in the right direction.

Key Takeaways

  • Can we create a solution that addresses more than one problem?
  • Are there solutions that are not an app?
  • Will our solution clash with existing spaces/products?


Iteration, Low Fidelity Wireframe

As soon as we started our research, our group began ideating. Our ideation phase left us with solutions that ranged from simple to absolutely bizarre as we wanted to cover each possible solution. In the end, our group compiled the leading features from our ideations.

A powerpoint slide showcasing our team's design thinking process

Low Fidelity Wireframe

At the end of the process, we had a low fidelity wireframe of how the app could potentially look. Due to the challenge’s time constraint, this was the furthest our team got in the design process.


Presentation, Feedback

Google Slides Presentation

At the end of this project, our group presented to stakeholders and faculty for feedback and contemplation.

Key Takeaways

  • Good solutions take time
  • Our solution was only one out of many potential solutions

Moving Forward

Lessons Learned

  • Solutions take time to fully develop. In our feedback, the administrator noted that all the groups came up with a singular solution and a month is not enough time to fully flesh out a solution for such a big question.
  • The design process of a team is as important as the product itself. The process displays how the team kneads empathy and user-centered principles for a product/service.