Peer-to-peer learning and social networking platform

Interaction Design, Visual Design

Problem: How might we help students tap into their peer network for questions related to their studies and campus life?

This is a student-initiated startup where I work with two other developers and one product manager. As the sole designer on the team, I take over the UX and visual aspect of the product.

The project focuses on providing a peer-to-peer learning social networking website for undergraduate college students and high school seniors transitioning into college. It is a platform that allows students to ask and discuss their academic and student life questions safely through self-generated usernames. For Peerstachio, our team won the grand prize of $10,000 at DTX Launch Detroit in Summer 2018.


Design Process

design process

User Discovery

User Interviews

In order to understand how students often go about seeking academic help or asking questions about student life, I interviewed three undergraduate students and one high-school senior. Key takeaways include:

  • Emailing professors takes time and may not work very well for approaching deadlines.
  • Asking classmates taking the same class may not be as helpful as asking someone who’s taken the class before or at a slightly higher level of proficiency in the subject.
  • Students taking an intro course may find it difficult to understand an in-depth answer given by an expert.
  • The more advanced a course is, the harder it is to find help from credible people online.
  • Current platforms lack tangible incentives to motivate students to answer peers' questions.

Competitive Analysis

Based on my findings from the user interviews, I identified five platforms as our direct and indirect competitors. It became clear that there is no single platform that addresses both academics and student life. Existing applications commonly used in colleges have relatively bad user experience and students only use them because their professors have chosen those platforms. More robust platforms such as Quora aren't specifically targeted towards students.

Competitive Analysis

Analyzing & Synthesizing

Story Mapping

In order to better understand use cases and contexts and get our developers and business manager on the same page about user needs, I tried to unpack the steps taken by a primary persona who is an undergraduate student who wants to find information about a class assignment or the job search process. I then mapped out the user's steps to identify pain points and opportunities that could be explored in our new platform:

Journey mapping

User flows

The next phase involves brainstorming the user flows to best support the user activities and tasks identified in the story map. In order to come up with an MVP for production, I decided to focus on the critical flow of how a user may use Peerstachio to find the answer to her question from her peers. The flow is broken down into three steps:

  • Search for similar questions in question databse.
  • Chat with a group of course specialists online.
  • Post the question publicly for everyone to answer.

User flows

Wireframing & Testing


Click on the image to enlarge

Initial Visual Design

In order to prepare for pitch competitions, I created a brand identity guideline and the visual design for Peerstachio's marketing website, which includes the Home, About and Contact pages. The visual elements will be reused when I come up with high-fidelity mockups for the web application.

Marketing website design

Marketing Website for Peerstachio (click on the image to enlarge)