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MyCorr: Reaching Out Made a Little Better

William Mlekush's capstone project: An app design about social support

MyCorr: Reaching Out Made a Little Better

William Mlekush's capstone project: An app design about social support

For his undergraduate capstone in Interactive Media, William Mlekush (Class of 2022) designed MyCorr: an app that aims to help us better reach out to our support networks. Its name draws from the mycorrhizal network that Mother trees use in forests to communicate with many young seedlings. It provides a traffic signal for social support availability–how available you are to support others in your network–and offers integrations to quickly contact someone using apps we already know and love.

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Team Members

The idea for MyCorr started in 2020. Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, George Floyd protests, Stop Asian Hate, and other public-consciousness-shifting events, William began to think and talk a lot about allyship. What was allyship, and how could someone be a better ally?

To better refine these questions, William began conducting informal interviews, asking people about the ways they construct and experience empathy, activism, and identity in their lives. When his capstone rolled around In the fall of 2021, he got the chance to start a project from scratch decided to focus on that theme of "allyship."

William conducted sixteen semi-structured interviews with members of the NYUAD and UWC USA communities. From these interviews, he extracted meaningful quotes and arranged them into an affinity map of eight topics: empathy, harm, listening, self-care, barriers , queerness, success, and ally.

MyCorr thus emerged from a theme of communication friction. Several people described feeling exhausted when educating others about Allyship. They would brace for being re-traumatized when trying to convince aspiring allies of systemic inequalities while already living a life threatened by those inequalities. The intellectual and emotional effort involved left some wishing tohers would be more considerate up front.

A similar desire appeared when people spoke of feeling guilty because they lacked the bandwidth to support their friends or family, or, on the other side, feeling crestfallen that the other person could not show up. Specific experiences often featured an intersection of the isolation of the coronavirus pandemic and the transnational relationships characteristic of these two international communities.

He then proceeded to send out surveys to the NYUAD student body to understand how they used mobile apps to reach out to their social networks. This survey laid the foundation for five customer discovery interviews, through which William defined the why and how of MyCorr.

He observed that people reach out for both socioemotional and practical support, our support networks include those who have shared experience, make us feel safe, and can offer support we need, and we often reach out about specific issues within the pillars of our lives. Second, while digital tools cannot provide the comfort of touch, people still feel they have to call/text first before they try to meet up in-person. Lastly, while delayed responses can cause stress for people reaching out, the expectation of instantaneous response can also cause stress for the recipient, and reduce the quality of their response.

William turned these insights into user personas (pictured on left). He also conducted a competitive analysis of existing communications and support network applications, as well as a heuristic evaluation (LINK) on the most direct competitor for MyCorr.


After all this research, William began to map out various tasks like signing up, logging in, and setting support hours. He then moved on to developing low-fi microframes and prototypes to visualize his ideas and see how the screens would look like individually and in sequence. To ensure that they were usable and understandable, he tested each of his two prototyped with five users.

For his final prototype, he increased visual redundancies for button accessibility, created full-width action buttons distinguish them from navigation, increased color contrast increased to W3C standards, simplified buttons for contacting someone, and fixed support hours input bugs. MyCorr was then exhibited at the 2022 Interactive Media Capstone Exhibition.

His main takeaways from the experience: collaborate more, proper planning saves effort and design time, and listening pays off.

You can read the full case study for MyCorr here and try out the final exhibition prototype here.

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MyCorr: Reaching Out Made a Little Better

William Mlekush's capstone project: An app design about social support

Designers
William Mlekush
Discipline
Product Design
Year
2022

For his undergraduate capstone in Interactive Media, William Mlekush (Class of 2022) designed MyCorr: an app that aims to help us better reach out to our support networks. Its name draws from the mycorrhizal network that Mother trees use in forests to communicate with many young seedlings. It provides a traffic signal for social support availability–how available you are to support others in your network–and offers integrations to quickly contact someone using apps we already know and love.

‍

The idea for MyCorr started in 2020. Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, George Floyd protests, Stop Asian Hate, and other public-consciousness-shifting events, William began to think and talk a lot about allyship. What was allyship, and how could someone be a better ally?

To better refine these questions, William began conducting informal interviews, asking people about the ways they construct and experience empathy, activism, and identity in their lives. When his capstone rolled around In the fall of 2021, he got the chance to start a project from scratch decided to focus on that theme of "allyship."

William conducted sixteen semi-structured interviews with members of the NYUAD and UWC USA communities. From these interviews, he extracted meaningful quotes and arranged them into an affinity map of eight topics: empathy, harm, listening, self-care, barriers , queerness, success, and ally.

MyCorr thus emerged from a theme of communication friction. Several people described feeling exhausted when educating others about Allyship. They would brace for being re-traumatized when trying to convince aspiring allies of systemic inequalities while already living a life threatened by those inequalities. The intellectual and emotional effort involved left some wishing tohers would be more considerate up front.

A similar desire appeared when people spoke of feeling guilty because they lacked the bandwidth to support their friends or family, or, on the other side, feeling crestfallen that the other person could not show up. Specific experiences often featured an intersection of the isolation of the coronavirus pandemic and the transnational relationships characteristic of these two international communities.

He then proceeded to send out surveys to the NYUAD student body to understand how they used mobile apps to reach out to their social networks. This survey laid the foundation for five customer discovery interviews, through which William defined the why and how of MyCorr.

He observed that people reach out for both socioemotional and practical support, our support networks include those who have shared experience, make us feel safe, and can offer support we need, and we often reach out about specific issues within the pillars of our lives. Second, while digital tools cannot provide the comfort of touch, people still feel they have to call/text first before they try to meet up in-person. Lastly, while delayed responses can cause stress for people reaching out, the expectation of instantaneous response can also cause stress for the recipient, and reduce the quality of their response.

William turned these insights into user personas (pictured on left). He also conducted a competitive analysis of existing communications and support network applications, as well as a heuristic evaluation (LINK) on the most direct competitor for MyCorr.


After all this research, William began to map out various tasks like signing up, logging in, and setting support hours. He then moved on to developing low-fi microframes and prototypes to visualize his ideas and see how the screens would look like individually and in sequence. To ensure that they were usable and understandable, he tested each of his two prototyped with five users.

For his final prototype, he increased visual redundancies for button accessibility, created full-width action buttons distinguish them from navigation, increased color contrast increased to W3C standards, simplified buttons for contacting someone, and fixed support hours input bugs. MyCorr was then exhibited at the 2022 Interactive Media Capstone Exhibition.

His main takeaways from the experience: collaborate more, proper planning saves effort and design time, and listening pays off.

You can read the full case study for MyCorr here and try out the final exhibition prototype here.

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