Research, Algorithm Design, UX/UI Design, Product Management
6 Months, shipped in July 2020
Solo Designer, 1 Subject Matter Expert, 2 Engineers
As the solo in-house design and product hire, I wore many hats—from designing the algorithm to managing the engineer's sprint schedule. I interrogated boundaries between research, data, and engineering in this project.
I cannot go into the details here due to NDA. If you want to learn more about it, please reach out. For now, I can defer to Empowerly's blog and official website to explain how it works.
Jessie is troubled. She feels like she is overwhelmed by her extracurriculars and wonders how to best optimize her time. So, she comes into the Empowerly portal and heads to the Extracurriculars session.
Jessie sorts her activities by “Activity Value.” The colors on the edge of each activity indicates its level of importance — darkest being the heaviest. Speech and debate rises to the top, and it shows to contribute to 4 Empowerly Score points, lifting her as a strong candidate for Emory University — her dream school. This makes sense, because she has been a leader of her team for the past two years, winning multiple state and national championships.
OK. So maybe dropping Speech and Debate isn’t such a good idea after all. Instead, she could probably consider dropping her hospital internship, which takes up 3 hours every week, but doesn’t contribute much to her story (not because medical work isn’t valuable, but because her role as a hospital intern is merely a passive observer).
It had also shown to help balance out counselor’s human biases when evaluating student cases and provide a more objective viewpoint.
Watch a testimonial video below: —
Most chancing calculators don’t take into account intangible factors… so this is definitely really helpful because it shows me what to do to improve my chances and continues to calculate progress.
—A.C., Missouri, Empowerly Student
…the Empowerly Score is more holistic and I’ve got a better idea of where I actually fit.
—N.M., California, Empowerly Student
Having this documented and seeing in terms of numbers what I’m sufficient at and what I need to improve on is really helpful.”
—P.N., California, Empowerly Student
This much we know. However, I am not able to elaborate on the full-scope of this tool's impact on the business publicly.
It is always important to me that I do what it takes to help our team ultimately deliver what was asked. In this case, the outcome was a reliable predictive, diagnostic, and analytical tool for college admissions.
UX is more than interface design.
If design is the act of making a series of human-centric decisions, there was plenty of room for creativity in building the algorithm.
Static wireframes might not be the best way to measure user reaction to a product feature.
Make it a point to test user reaction by demonstrating the value they will receive in a personal and tangible way. In this case, it’s the generated Score first and foremost.
Good design does not always amount to a significant increase in engineering effort.
Sure, sometimes it does. In some cases, however, minor UX copy or UI placement changes may have little impact on engineering time while contributing to significant business gains.