Case Study

4 day remote sprint with BrainStation x EY.

Reimagining the first-year student experience.

5 minute read


Coastal Community is an iOS product that allows first-year students to connect with other students over shared interests and communities remotely.

In this case study:

The problem

Students are missing out on building organic and spontaneous connections because of COVID-19-related campus closures.

The solution

Empowering students to connect with others through interest based communities via chats, and video calls.

What I did

Created concept sketches, medium to high fidelity wireframes, and presentation deck.

What I learned

The ability to discern priority and value between steps and artifacts in the design process.



Coastal Community


Mature students


UX/UI Designer


BrainStation x EY


4 days (2020)


Figma and InVision


Aditi Dham, Eric Nielsen, and Shin Park

Skills and methods

Qualitative and quantitative research, competitor and market analysis, user interviews, UI pattern finding, usability tests, and prototypes


Personas, experience map, user journey, storyboard, moodboards, task flow, sketches, wireframes, low-high fidelity prototypes, and presentation deck


Our target users were mature students who were over the age of 25+, and have had some work experience. We sourced 5 participants collectively through our personal network who met this criteria. We individually conducted our interviews over video calls. After our interviews, we returned together as a team to synthesize our findings into key insights. 


"It's easier to grab a drink after class in person. The virtual alternative is to schedule a Zoom meeting which is too formal and it just isn't organic or genuine."

Quote from interviewee.

Interview insights


Students felt that the available technology (i.e. Zoom, Google Meets, etc) is a barrier to building organic and genuine connections. Students often interrupt, speak over each other, or simply do not participate in video calls.


Students felt robbed of the traditional first-year student experience since many of the social events were cancelled and the virtual offerings felt forced, awkward and/or too formal.

Defining the problem

We created over 30 how might we questions and landed on this question to spearhead our proposed solution.

How might we help mature students create spontaneous remote connections with their peers so that they feel less isolated from the Coastal community?


Market and competitor research

Before we began the ideation process we did a competitor audit and analysis to see what solutions already exist. We looked at both negative and positive reviews to gather more insights on how users interacted with these products. We looked at products that currently exist in the market and products from other industries. These are just a few of the competitors we looked at Houseparty, Facebook Live, Zoom, Google Meet, Coffee Meets Bagel, Bumble, and a few others.


✅ Group video chats
✅ Group games


✅ Conversation starters
✅ Profiles with user interests

Concept Sketches


I worked on creating the wireframes for the app along with another teammate, the others concentrated on collecting assets, creating copy, and pieced the screens together for the final prototype. We used this prototype for our usability tests. 








Group Video Call

Usability Testing

We conducted 5 user tests to identify where we could improve the user experience. Although we didn’t have time to implement all of these changes, it was important for us to present our testing results and next steps to the panel from EY.


🚫 Low contrast elements that didn't pass accessibility.
🚫 Small text that didn't pass Apple's Human Interface Guidelines.


🚫 Users need clarity on how to use the app.
🚫 Users needed context for the purpose of the app.


The solution

An interest based community platform that encourages students to interact with thier peers and build connections and a sense of community.

On our final day of the sprint, we pitched our design decisions to stakeholders from EY. In under 8 minutes, we brought them through our research and target demographic, introduced them to Sam (primary persona), her journey, and highlighted the human value of our solution. 

Our presentation to the EY and BrainStation panel went really well! We received some high compliments from Steve (Executive Strategy Director), Waleed (Executive Creative Director) and Jennifer (Manager of Business Transformation) from EY on the visual design and the application of brand guidelines.

Jonathan Lee (Educator at BrainStation), Shin, Eric, myself and Steve Meggit (Executive Strategy Director at EY) pictured left to right.

Lessons learned

I learned about the importance of process and the ability to discern the priority and value between steps and artifacts needed to create a well designed end product.


A key takeaway gained from our talks with the team at EY was to explore products in other industries to gain a more thorough and insightful understanding of UI patterns and features which will help to differentiate us from other competitors.


Designing in parallels helps with divergent thinking, generating multiple options and ideas before choosing a direction and refining it. This is necessary for fruitful ideation and idea generation. 


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