top of page
iPhone Xs-UL.jpg

Ustaad Log: fostering a mentoring platform

Brief

UstaadLog is an on-demand, peer-to-peer mentoring platform.
Going beyond the mentoring aspect, we discovered that many mentors and potential mentees were not necessarily interested in an exchange as a learning experience but rather expected a problem-solving experience.

Role

I was responsible for leading the UX design – conducting research, information architecture, personas, wireframes, user flows, and helping shape the design direction along with high-fidelity designs.

Outcome

We developed a solution that included a peer-to-peer mentoring platform focused on problem-solving based on the category of problems grouped around interests. This method elicited an increase in mentor signups and setup clear expectations for mentees seeking tangible solutions for issues they were facing. We also developed a frictionless scheduling system that allowed flexibility and wiggle room for both parties to set up appointments, doubling the completion rate.

MacBook-Pro-16-new-ul.jpeg

Background

Learning from the source
 

UstaadLog is a one-on-one mentoring platform that allows people to connect with mentors from the real world.
We designed it as a social enterprise with a donation-based system. Businesses could invest in buying learning tokens for mentees, and the platform would distribute it directly to the Ustaads (mentors) for their time spent on mentoring.

That meant discounted hours for the mentees and a total payout for mentors.

The challenge

 

The product had a clear value proposition; it was a marketplace of mentors from different professions with different skills. Anyone could become a member and schedule meetings with them or learn through structured courses called sessions.

Although we had an excellent base to work with, there were three challenges to overcome:

1. How could we make mentorship accessible to a younger demographic (16 to 20 years)?
2. How could we ensure the mentors onboarded with the correct intentions and would honor time commitments?
3. How could we design a seamless scheduling system for a country without a prevalent scheduling culture?

85.jpeg

Kick Off

The mentor-mentee bridge

It was essential to onboard mentors as a two-sided marketplace before getting the mentees involved.

We used survey-based forms(Typeform) to create an asynchronous onboarding system with an invitation-only link. In addition, we used word-of-mouth marketing and were able to get 100 sign-ups in less than two hours.

It was big enough and a good mentor pool to validate the concept. We had some of the top creatives, teachers, and professionals from diverse fields (singing, dancing, architecture, arts, web development, carpenters)

We created a smaller focus group for user testing and interviews(both of mentors and meentees) focusing on how they perceived mentoring and their expectations from a platform like ours. We recieved good feedback.

Early insights
 

Our assumptions were correct when it came to the expectations the mentees had in terms of common concerns and expectations. The users found the layouts too dark and ominous, comparing it to a classroom environment. They also had far too many question before being onboarded. My goal was to understand what was to find out what their concerns were and how could we address them through UX/UI.


The mentors on the other hand were more concerned with how their information was being presented and whether the scheduling would be a pain to pull off.

Screenshot-2021-12-27-at-17.45.36.png
Screenshot-2021-12-27-at-17.44.39.png

The Discovery

"Not all mentors were interested in teaching, but they didn't mind answering questions about how they approached their work."


The first most crucial discovery came from the mentor user type. It was shocking to discover that not all successful people wanted to teach their success to other people. However, almost 95% were enthusiastic with the idea of sharing what made them successful or how they approached their profession. This puzzle piece would allow us to understand how to re-position our platform both for the mentees and the mentors.


"The mentees didn't care about being part of another learning platform."


It wasn't apparent at first, but we realized that it was wrong to make the platform experience similar to a masterclass or a Coursera.
The users shared clear feedback that they did not want another similar platform. They had the world's leading actors, directors, artists etc, giving short courses so why would they want another similar platform?


We were not successful in articulating and translating our value proposition successfully.

iPhone-Xs-UL.jpeg

Reframing The Problem


Findings from user testing and interviews revealed that 78% of mentees were looking for specific advice and guidance that could solve their problems. In comparison, only 22% were interested in a general mentoring platform. Data helped us craft a better value proposition and positioning.


We created a problem-solving platform. 

How might we create a platform where experienced mentors could help solve real-world problems people face in their domains?
(without it looking like a learning or teaching platform)
 

 

Our solution was simple: creating a problem-solving platform of experts: where (1) expert problem-solving mentors from different fields could be (2) booked for a one-on-one session, (3) by people seeking their expert problem-solving advice in those particular domains, (4) for the problems they were facing.

MacBook-Pro-16-new-ul.jpeg

Problem solving (pre-recorded) sessions - curated time slots based on common problems

Asking our focus group mentors to list down common problems faced in their respective fields and matching them with a list provided by mentees, we were able to map out the most common challenges faced. We categorized the challenges within their separate domains.

We asked each mentor to pick a common problem and make a short video explaining it. This way, we started to generate free onboarding videos of mentors that established trust and introduced the mentor to the community.

Some challenges were bundled together as sessions; pre-recorded content could be accessed anytime.

Screenshot-2021-12-27-at-17.03.59.png
852.jpeg
853.jpeg

Flexible and easy scheduling

It was essential to create a scheduling system that worked well in Pakistan. Culturally, meetings were rarely conducted on time, and a half an hour buffer was acceptable.
Traffic concerns, long travel distances, and meeting backlogs meant that usually, people would run late on some of their commitments. So we had to make sure that we addressed the issue in the scheduling system.

Our solution consisted of creating 4-hour clusters that could be chosen as a meeting slot. Once the slot was finalized, the exact time could be fixed at a later point.

This allowed the mentors and the mentees to make more manageable commitments.

88.jpeg

An engaging home feed of content

 

We created curated videos, sessions and other exciting bits of problem-solving-related content. Almost like a discoverable home feed, the galleries would eventually lead to scheduling a call with the mentor, which was the ultimate objective of the platform.

87.jpeg
iPhone-11-Pro-Mockup-main-02.jpeg

The impact

 

We developed a solution that included a peer-to-peer mentoring platform focused on problem-solving based on the category of problems grouped around interests. This method elicited an increase in mentor signups and setup clear expectations for mentees seeking tangible solutions for issues they were facing. We also developed a frictionless scheduling system that allowed flexibility and wiggle room for both parties to set up appointments, doubling the completion rate.
 

 

We were able to convey a clear value proportion to all user types (mentors, mentees and donation partners) and the platform is ready to be launched out of a closed Beta in January 2021 with more than 150 top mentors from Pakistan ready to solve big problems.

iPhone-11-Pro-Mockup-main-02.jpeg
bottom of page