Sean's Legacy mentorship platform

Supporting LGBTQIA+ minority youth in their academic and extracurricular endeavors.

BACKGROUND AND PROBLEM

Supporting and uplifting LGBTQIA+ youth with a focus on youth suicide prevention

Sean’s Legacy is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting and uplifting LGBTQIA+ youth with a focus on youth suicide prevention. With a mission to support LGBTQIA+ minority youth in their academic and extracurricular endeavors, the nonprofit is launching an online mentorship program to help them prepare for college and careers.

Partnering with TechFleet, an initial MVP (minimum viable product) of the platform was built in Phase I, mostly focused on the mentee persona and user flow. During Phase II, the team iterated on the MVP further, beginning work on the mentor persona and user flow. Based on Phase 1 research findings, potential users desired increased clarity in regard to the purpose of the mentorship platform and its safety features. Research indicated desire for guidance, personalization, and inclusivity. Potential users also felt the site was lacking personality.

As the content team was new in this phase, copy was rather vague and content was not yet standardized. The product voice was not determined, making it difficult to bring personality or a sense of trust to the platform. Our team developed the initial Voice and Tone, Content Style Guide, wrote copy for both sides of the platform, worked with Design on content strategy, and audited existing designs from Phase I.

Scope: Professional mentorship platform
Goal: Audit existing content and create new content to align with Sean Legacy’s standards and values
Role: UX Writer & Content Designer
Team: Project Leads (2), Product Strategists (5), UX Researchers (7), UX Designers (7), Developers (9), UX Writers (3)
Timeline/Duration: 8 weeks (Four 2-week sprints)
Tools: Figma, FigJam, Notion, Google Docs

How might we help LGBTQ+ minority youth achieve academic and extracurricular goals?

SOLUTION

An end-to-end professional mentorship platform that matches and connects mentees with mentors to establish mentorship relationships.

EmpathizeDefineIdeatePrototype & TestWrap-up

1. EMPATHIZE

Arrow pointing up

CONTENT AUDIT

Improving upon existing copy

During the first phase of this project, there was no designated content team. For Phase II, there was a definite need and focus on content, especially for a platform catering to LGBTQIA+ minority youth. During Phase I, the research team did support since they had insights that would inform initial copy decisions. With that in mind, we began our exploration with a brief content audit of the Phase I prototype, which focused on the onboarding for the mentee user experience. 

We edited the copy mostly for clarity and grammar consistency, while we synonymously began work on drafting a content style guide for the platform. By doing this exercise, we uncovered some gaps and confusion in the current mentee onboarding user flow and partnered with the design team working on this to implement the updated user flow with a better flow logic with a content lens. As the project went on, this user flow continued to be iterated upon and added to throughout the project, however the general order stayed the same.

Increase user control

Increase clarity to build trust

Reworked user flow

CONTENT STYLE GUIDE COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS

Checking out how others approach content standardization

A content style guide was part of the project brief for this phase, so we knew this was a high priority and crucial in establishing a consistent content practice for the platform. 

In addition to looking at the mentorship platform competitive analysis and other research that was completed in Phase I, we wanted to see how other brands tackled this living, breathing deliverable (AKA the bible for the platform's content). As we viewed product content style guides, it was important to note the format as well as sections included. A content style guide can be as detailed or as general as you want, the latter being ideal in establishing a proper content practice. Our efforts focused on looking at brands with established and mature content design practices to learn from the best. While these are larger companies with big scale digital products, there is much to glean from them since they do it so well.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Brand voice and tone, proper grammar usage and use case/best practice examples are crucial to include in content style guides.
  • The grammar and principles sections differed since this is where you can infuse the brand more and have fun – writing is designing with words after all! (i.e. Mailchimp has a dedicated section to emojis)
  • All guides were (and should always be) human-centered, clear, concise, usable and accessible – this is the foundation for creating good content.

2. DEFINE

CONTENT VOICE & TONE

Establishing a voice for the professional mentorship platform

While Sean’s Legacy has an established content framework for the nonprofit’s mission and goals, it was important to create something specific for the mentorship platform while still complementing the brand that’s been built. But first we needed to establish voice and tone before creating the content style guide.

Looking at the Phase I UX Research Report, we pulled out themes and terms that had appeared often. We also referenced a list of adjectives provided by the client describing Sean’s Legacy as well as Sean’s Legacy guiding principles to see additional recurring patterns and words throughout. An affinity map was created to distill our overall direction for the voice and tone.

Affinity Map

Before moving forward and getting too far ahead of ourselves, we presented our initial voice and tone ideas to the client and their content marketing team, which they approved of our direction. This was our guiding light as we began fleshing out the content style guide throughout the duration of the project.

THE PRINCIPLES

VOICE

  • Clear
    We are intentional with our messaging, understanding who and/or the topic we are writing about. Be clear, using simple words and phrases.
  • Consistent
    We use the same words to communicate with our mentees and mentors.
  • Inclusive
    We promote a sense of belonging and community by using respectful, supportive language.
  • Uplifting
    Be kind and welcoming. We want to encourage mentees to see their unique gifts, and find the best connection fit.
  • Ethical
    We are transparent and don’t use tactics that mislead our mentees into doing something without their understanding or consent.

TONE

  • Respectful
    Avoid making assumptions about mentees. We never use gendered language. Using “please” and “thank you” connotes respect. Offer mentees choice.
  • Approachable
    Avoid jargon and use clear, concise language.
  • Compassionate
    We want mentees to feel accepted for exactly who they are.

CHARACTERISTICS

  • Kind, not pushy
  • Welcoming, not unapproachable
  • Open, not cagey

CONTENT STYLE GUIDE

Creating consistency and standardization

With some takeaways from the best in class UX content style guides and our own voice and tone direction in place, we began the content style guide creation. As a living, breathing document, this was iterated upon as we came across scenarios in drafting microcopy.

We made some initial decisions on direction, including the usage of casual, informal language due to the age range of users and optimal readability. If the mentorship platform was like a person, we envisioned it as “the cool guidance counselor/teacher we all want to have.”

They're warm, friendly, reliable, and make mentees feel at ease. They're professional and knowledgeable, inspiring trust and confidence. They're clear communicators, offering guidance with a sense of empowerment. They promote diversity and a sense of belonging with their inclusive and respectful behavior, and they prioritize safety.”

Grammar and Mechanics

Within the grammar and mechanics section, we kept in mind the casual, informal language while also taking into consideration simplicity, so rules could be easily understood and applied for consistency.

Setting us up for success, some initial guidelines were determined:

Here’s a taste of our basic guidelines:

Tone in Use

To provide references to see the tone in use, it was important to us to provide examples, mapping the users emotions throughout the user journey.

Word List/Taxonomies

Keeping in mind the user as we strived for inclusivity and accessibility, we compiled a list of words and taxonomies to use as the platform addresses and covers a spectrum of identities. This helped further create standardization across the mentor and mentee experiences of the platform and address any inconsistencies between them.

Another focus here was regarding CTAs, providing use cases for each and words to avoid. While these words may seem so minuscule in comparison to the bigger picture of the platform, they do ultimately make a difference. We spent some time meditating on these, especially since it related to gender and identity, race and ethnicity and orientation.

For example, we decided to use Continue over Next as it feels gentler and conveys we haven't abandoned the user, we're still there and haven't abandoned them – whereas Next feels as if the user is in a line, not a person but a number, wondering how much longer they must endure. We chose Sign up over Create account to both simplify the copy and play to user's mental models of what they might expect. These seemingly small changes helped to create more cohesive designs as these subtle differences play in to properly conveying our tone.

There are still major decisions to be made regarding language. Toward the end of Phase II we began working on language for gender, orientation, race, and ethnicity. Phase II usability testing showed users were confused with various options and our team recommended Phase III begin with a content audit of existing designs to determine any inconsistencies and standardize terminology. We also recommended testing various copy such as Female versus Woman, and Trans versus Transgender.

A lot of initial work and discussion was put into the content style guide, but it’s by no means finalized. As the product scales, so will the need for additional standardization and there other areas to consider including as the need arises.

SEE FULL CONTENT STYLE GUIDE→

INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE & USER FLOWS

Developing a blueprint and flow

New to this phase of the project was building out the information architecture of both platform experiences. During the first phase of the project, the initial mentee onboarding user flow was rather linear so there wasn’t a need for a sitemap at the time. Building upon this and adding the mentor side of the platform into the picture, it was imperative to document as the platform continues to grow in complexity. We collaborated with both design teams to create information architecture.

With the mentor experience being new during this phase, we took a content based approach to drafting the sitemap. While this design team ultimately decided to table the sitemap and focus their efforts on the user flows, it was a great exercise in exploration and brainstorming for the current phase and future phases from an overall content perspective. This will continue to be fleshed out in future phases.

Sitemaps

Mentee (Logged In)
Mentee (Logged Out)
Mentor (Work in progress)

User Flows

Mentee
Mentor Flow 1: Sign-up
Mentor Flow 2: Onboarding Tasks & Resources

3. IDEATE

UX WRITING & CONTENT DESIGN

Proposing new microcopy for the mentee and mentor experiences

Based on our initial content audit of the Phase I prototype and rework of the user flow, we proposed edits to increase clarity to build trust and increase user-control while addressing user feedback from Phase I. This flow was expanded upon during this phase as well, so new microcopy was introduced. We were also presented with a last-minute rework, needing to add in an authentication page, which was an important element to ensure security and privacy to users. 

A second design team began exploring the mentor platform experience during this phase, which is where user research was focused on (Phase I research focused on the mentee perspective). While both onboarding user flows differed in some areas, they shared similarities and some microcopy was duplicated to create consistency.

Mentee Landing Page

Based on our review of the Phase I UXR report and gathering additional feedback from design leads who were present in Phase I, we devised insights for initial revisions to existing prototype screens.

Microcopy

About Page

Microcopy

Mentor Landing Page

With the mentor user experience being new this phase, we collaborated closely with the UX Research team gathering insights on the mentor perspective to further inform the must-have content and copy.

Compiled list: Connection, Community, Growth, Giving back / Impact, Resources, Shared experience, Addressing challenges/Imposter syndrome, Encouragement, Support

Microcopy

Tone of Voice

Overall, the copy was rewritten to match the content voice and tone we established, making it more readable and casual while still authoritative (think “cool guidance counselor").

Sign-up, Sign in Modals & Onboarding

The mentee onboarding user flow order was reworked to be more logical based on the Phase I prototype. On the flip side, the mentor experience was generally the same, aside from the additional onboarding steps (i.e. background check).

Here again, the copy was edited to increase clarity further and build trust with users with emphasis on security at this stage. Below is a sampling of these various pages within the mentee and mentor onboarding experiences.

Mentor Onboarding Checklist & Background Check Info Page

Note: These were unique to the mentor platform experience

Unique to the mentor onboarding were some additional steps to take before being approved as a mentor, including a third-party background check. An additional page outlining the background check can be accessed from this checklist to begin the process and learn more. Copy was drafted to educate prospective mentors on the purpose, process, what will be checked and requirements for the background check.

Microcopy

Mentor Onboarding Checklist
  • A simple checklist showing current status and items to do was created with detailed microcopy for each checklist item. The content outlined the approval process in an easy to understand and digestible format.
  • A simple outline of the approval process was also added to demystify any confusion for prospective mentors as they begin their background check and complete items on the onboarding checklist.
Background Check Info Page
  • Addressed the purpose of the background check as well as walking through the process step-by-step, what will be checked in the background check and requirements needed to begin.
  • Emphasized payment needed out of pocket for the background check and specific copy below the CTA to inform users that it'll be conducted by a third party provider, which will link them off the website.
User Dashboard & Profile Editor

Another part of the experience that differed slightly was the user dashboards for mentors and mentees with some similarities and alignment in the profile editor pages.

We used user research insights to derive what content should exist in the profile. Mentors wanted to know:

Note: Mentor dashboard is mid-fidelity to show the flow and how required resources might appear on the dashboard.

Dashboard Microcopy

Mentee Profile and Editor Microcopy

Mentee Match Questionnaire

Note: This was unique to the mentee platform experience

Partnering closely with the UX Design Team 1, we drafted the questions as well as brainstormed on various formats and layouts (fill in the blank a la Typeform vs. standard Q&A). Ultimately, the questionnaire will be used to match mentees and mentors. Below is a sample of questions asked in the questionnaire as well as results once completed.

Microcopy

Search/Filter Mentors Page

Note: This was unique to the mentee platform experience

For users wanting to manually search for mentors, a search feature was made available. We partnered with both design teams and the research team to understand necessary filter categories and keywords. Curated search results would also be available for those who have completed the match questionnaire.

4. PROTOTYPE + TEST

HIGH-FIDELITY PROTOTYPE & USABILITY TESTING

Testing the mentor perspective


Since Phase I was primarily focused on the mentee perspective, the research team focused their efforts on the mentor perspective. At the beginning of this phase of the project, however, we did address user feedback from Phase I usability testing.

A combination of moderated and unmoderated usability testing was conducted of the mid-fidelity mentor onboarding flow with themes surrounding the platform's purpose, information architecture and the information and expectations from users. The below findings were taken into consideration in the final high fidelity prototype.

Unmoderated Usability Testing

Research Goals

Moderated Usability Testing

Research Goals

PRIORITY REVISIONS

Making the experience even better

After the research team conducted usability testing, they compiled insights from feedback that were taken into consideration as we finalized copy and content for the high fidelity prototypes this phase.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Unmoderated Usability Testing
Mentor Landing Page
Mentor sign-up and profile creation
Overall Mentor Flow
Moderated Usability Testing

Platform's purpose:

  • Participants believed the mentorship program's main mission was to prevent young people from feeling isolated and taking their lives. They felt that the program was a place where young people could feel heard, safe, and loved.
  • Some participants realized that it was a professional support mentorship program only after they filled out the profile questions.

Information architecture:

  • Participants were more likely to click on the "sign up" button rather than the "become a mentor" button.
  • Participants found it confusing when clicking on the "become a mentor" button took them to a page with another "sign up" button.
  • Users also expressed confusion about the signup process. Some expected to provide some initial information first, and create an account after.

More information needed:

  • Some users also wanted more upfront information about what it entails to be a mentor, such as the level of commitment, the type of support they would receive, and what happens if they struggle with their mentee.
  • A lot of participants were in favor of the background check measures, but had concerns about the cost and type of background checks. Users wanted to know what data would be checked and what would make them ineligible to be a mentor.

5. WRAP-UP

Reviewing the mentee onboarding experience

01. ACCOUNT CREATION, EMAIL VERIFICATION & 2FA
02. MINIMUM REQUIRED INFORMATION
03. PROFILE EDITOR & MATCH QUESTIONNAIRE
View final prototype

Reviewing mentor onboarding experience

01. ACCOUNT CREATION, EMAIL VERIFICATION & 2FA
02. ONBOARDING CHECKLIST
03. PROFILE EDITOR
View final prototype

So, what's next?

Due to time constraints and feasibility, there were certain areas and items that were deprioritized this phase or out of scope. We did draft a handoff document for future phases, which included what we completed and future recommendations. There were some highlights that should be considered in future phases:

What did I learn?

01. ASYNCHRONOUS COLLABORATION

MY team was spread out across different time zones (one of them in Singapore!). Establishing communication and ways of working processes early on increased efficiency and overall ease in collaborating.

02. AGILE PROCESSES

Working in agile sprints allowed us to accomplish a lot in two months time, working cross collaboratively in a simultaneous manner. Breaking up tickets and items on the product roadmap into smaller tasks allowed for efficiency in the work. It was also helpful to participate in retrospective meetings at the end of each sprint to identify what worked, what didn’t, things to try and action items based on those. 

03. BEING COMFORTABLE WITH UNCERTAINTY

With the content team being new in Phase II and it being a newer discipline within UX design in general, we had to figure out how to best collaborate with other teams and essentially start many deliverables from scratch (i.e. content style guide). We had to establish our own processes, which was tough at times but a great exercise in decision-making and figuring out what worked best for the team to produce the best work. I learned to be comfortable with uncertainty and felt confident about setting up our own processes going forward

THANKS FOR READING!

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