UX Research: The largest online community for study abroad aspirants.

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This is a research assignment we did as a team for 10kdesigners in a duration of 10 days and the case study is my personal documentation for the same.

Yocket community Cover Image

📋 Task

Our task was to prepare a research report on an Internet community to understand how people spend time in these communities. The purpose is to develop an understanding of their behavior, usage patterns and gather findings that can be distilled into insights.

🔮 Niche

We have chosen online communities for people who are planning to go abroad for their higher studies. More specifically, we have chosen the Yocket community.

👩🏻‍💻 Background

When I was in my last year of engineering, many of my friends were preparing and planning to go abroad for their masters and I have seen them being part of various WhatsApp and Facebook groups for the same. They used to share the group links with other people as well to join, who were having the same goal. Many times when we would be chilling inside college campus or cafes, they’d open their phones and their WhatsApp would get flooded with so many texts from different groups and I used to wonder doesn’t it get too overwhelming to keep up with all the latest information, isn’t there a single platform or community to have all these information and updates at one place?

When I learned about this assignment, this was the first thing that came to my mind from a personal anecdote and this is how I chose this niche.

🙋🏻‍♀️ Introduction

Initially, we spoke to our friends and acquaintances who are planning to go or have gone abroad for their higher studies. We received a lot of insights on what are the different communities they are aware of and what are the different platforms they are using. This is what we observed:

Responses to knowledge about the existence of online community

Key takeaways

  • Most of the people are part of such online communities for study abroad aspirants.
  • Even If not part, they are still aware of the communities.
  • We realized a community plays an important role, whether an offline community or an online one.

After exploring these communities, we came across a Facebook group that was moderated by Yocket, and this is where we got to know about the Yocket app. After some research, we decided to dive deep into the Yocket community, but we would jump later into that.

We identified two user groups.

  1. People who are part of the Yocket community.
  2. People who aren’t part of such communities.

🎯 Goals

  1. To research how the Yocket community functions.
  2. To understand the expectations and pain points of Yocket community members.
  3. To ideate and suggest product features to improve the overall experience.

📝 Research Process

  1. We researched online about the Yocket community and downloaded the Yocket app.
  2. We conducted surveys and interviews with the Yocket community members through Facebook group and app.
  3. Then we drew quantitative and qualitative insights.
  4. Based on the insights, we created user personas and user journey maps.
  5. Finally, after some brainstorming, we identified problems and proposed possible solutions for them.

💭 Hypothesis and Assumptions

  1. Most of the aspirants who are planning to go abroad for higher studies are part of some online communities.
  2. Most of the aspirants are part of more than one community or use different platforms.
  3. Not many aspirants are using the Yocket app.
  4. Yocket users interact on the app only.
  5. Yocket users are pretty much active on the app on day to day basis.
  6. Most of the aspirants who are part of Yocket’s Facebook group are using the Yocket app as well.

👩🏻‍💻 Secondary Research

First, Let’s understand what an online community is.

What is an online community?

Communities are all around us. We’re part of many communities, whether they’re communities made up of family, friends, or shared interests. Online communities take similar principles from in-person communities and make them virtual.

Source: Higher Logic

After having a better understanding of what online communities are, we started to explore communities that allow study abroad aspirants to interact with fellow aspirants, seniors, or mentors. These communities provide a platform for aspirants to discuss their plans, ask queries, shortlist their colleges, and more.

We came across several Facebook groups and learned about several WhatsApp and telegram groups too from our friends. Finally, we came across the Yocket community.

Why Yocket?

  • Yocket aims to be a one-stop solution for students planning to study abroad. It seeks to simplify the process and guide students in firming up their plans.
  • Yocket has a large and active community of study-abroad aspirants, alumni, experts, and representatives of international universities.
  • The Yocket app provides the majority of features and information that users might be gathering from other communities combined.

Before diving deep into the Yocket community, let’s have an overview of all the features this community provides.

Features provided by Yocket

🛒 Playstore Reviews for Yocket app.

Positive Reviews

Positive Playstore reviews of Yocket app

👀 Derived Insights

Negative Reviews

Negative Playstore reviews of Yocket app

👀 Derived Insights

🕵🏻 Primary Research

  • Firstly, we conducted a user survey through google forms for quantitative insights.
  • Then we conducted user interviews for qualitative insights.

📊 User Survey

We got 14 responses from people between the age group of 20–25.

👤 User Interview

Here comes the part I was anxious yet most excited about.

We conducted interviews with around 20 people through chat, phone calls, and video calls.

  • We reached out to users through the Facebook group that was moderated by Yocket. (Link: Facebook group by Yocket)
  • We downloaded the Yocket app and sent out messages to the users.
  • We also reached out to our friends who are planning to or have gone abroad for their higher studies.
User Interview BTS
Interview with the community members
Chat screenshots

Qualitative Insights

From members of Yocket’s Facebook group

  1. Members are pretty much active on Yocket’s Facebook group.
  2. Members are quite responsive and they get to see a lot of relevant posts.
  3. Most of the members are using the Yocket app as well. Given the larger purpose, they feel it’s better to engage in more than just one group/community to be updated.
  4. The rest of them don’t want to download a separate app to join groups if they can do that with their daily use apps. It gives them a sense of familiarity. They feel it’s more convenient for them to use the Facebook group to clear their doubts and connect with fellow aspirants.
  5. It’s easy to track posts on the feed and if needed, people can communicate with the person who has posted it.

From the Yocket app users

  1. Users find the Yocket app an amazing platform that connects them with people having similar interests and goals.
  2. They can get all the information that helps them with their study abroad plans, in one place.
  3. The app seems to be helpful when it comes to university shortlisting and other information regarding the university i.e., ranking, courses, dates, fees.
  4. People on this platform are quite helpful and supportive. They tend to clear each other’s doubts and provide help with mock test papers, loan guidance, document preparation.
  5. Students who get an admit to the same university, get added to respective groups which is an amazing way to connect people who are planning to go to the same university. It helps them to plan certain things together beforehand, like finding roommates.

From friends and non-community members

We would also like to share some additional insights that we got to know from our friends and non-community members.

We wanted to understand how non-community members plan and manage the whole process of going abroad plans, from where do they seek guidance regarding universities, loans, documents, etc.

  1. Most of the people who have friends or seniors, who have gone through all these processes before going abroad for studies, do not feel the need to join any community. Their friends/seniors provide the required guidance. However, few of them also believe it’s good to be part of communities to be updated, as they don’t wanna miss out on any information.
  2. Some of the people seek help from consultancy services that help them with all their processes. Although, few of them have also told us that some of these services, sometimes, lack transparency, and push students towards a specific university they have tie-up with.
  3. People also mentioned platforms like LinkedIn, where they try to connect with alumni of the universities they are aiming for, to get genuine information.

🎭 User Persona

User Group 1 — Yocket users

📉User Journey Map of Yocket Members

The user journey map here represents the user flow through different touchpoints while using the Yocket app and using Yocket’s Facebook group.

User journey map of Yocket community members

😡 Pain points of Yocket users

  1. Spam Messages and posts on the Yocket app or the Yocket Facebook group.
  2. The texting experience is not good on the app, due to which users have to move to a different platform like WhatsApp and users are not always comfortable with sharing their contact number with strangers online.
  3. Users can’t search for a specific question or post on the app’s feed, and due to which there are a lot of repetitive questions and there’s no way to follow a specific post if the user needs to see the responses. This also leads to late responses on posts/queries.
  4. Sometimes, users get added to different universities groups which they are not aiming for and have to exit one by one if not interested.
  5. Some of the users find it difficult to identify if a profile is real or fake due to which they are hesitant to share any kind of information.
  6. There’s no way to check the credibility of the information shared in a group.
  7. There’s no way to search for a specific profile. Users can only search among the profiles they have talked to in the messaging section. If a user has seen a post regarding something and later they want to talk to the person who has uploaded that post, they can’t search their profile. The only way to find that profile is to wait to see their other post.

User Group 2 — Aspirants who are not Yocket users

☑️ Hypothesis Validation:

  1. Most of the aspirants who are planning to go abroad for higher studies are part of some online communities.

True. 78.6% of the study abroad aspirants are part of some online community. The rest of them, even if not a part of such communities, were at least aware of the existence of these online communities.

2. Most of the aspirants are part of more than one community.

True. Given the larger purpose, people believe it’s best to be part of more than one community to be updated.

3. Not many aspirants are using the Yocket app.

True. 57.1% of the aspirants are using the Yocket app. Some aspirants are a part of Yocket’s Facebook group but they are not using the app. Some of them find Facebook, WhatsApp groups enough to gather the information they need, and in some cases, people rely on friends or seniors for study abroad-related queries.

4. Yocket users interact on the app only.

False. Most of the Yocket users do not find the texting experience that good on the app so they prefer to communicate through WhatsApp. They find people with similar interests, exchange numbers, and then move to Whatsapp. People also ask queries on the Yocket app about the existence of any Whatsapp group they wanna join.

5. Yocket users are pretty much active on the app on day to day basis.

False. 45.5% of the Yocket users don’t use the app daily, 45.5% use it for less than an hour and 9.1% use it for 1–2 hours. Most of them come to the app to perform a specific task or to check notifications. Since most of the users prefer other texting platforms like WhatsApp as they find it more efficient, user engagement is less on the app.

6. Most of the aspirants who are part of Yocket’s Facebook group are using the Yocket app as well.

True. 8 out of 9 Yocket’s Facebook group members are using the Yocket app as well. The rest of them don’t want to download a separate app to join groups if they can do that with their daily use apps.

💭 Ideas and suggestions for improvement

  1. Spam Messages and posts. 🤦🏻‍♀️
  • The app can allow users to report posts or messages. After a certain number of reports, the Yocket team can look into the matter and block the profiles that are spamming.

2. Poor Texting experience. 📱

  • Allow users to share links and copy texts.
  • Search option in chatbox and groups so that users can easily find what they need. Also, allow users to pin or mark important messages.

3. Can’t search for a specific question/post and profile on the app. 🔎

  • Introduce a search option in the feed so that users can search about specific topic-related posts. This could also reduce the response time as the user would not always have to post a question. They can simply search for a question and find all the available posts regarding that.
  • The posts should appear in the descending order of likes when the user searches for them.
  • Introduce search options for profiles as well.

4. Users automatically get added to different groups. 👥

  • Send users invitation requests before adding them to the group. Add them to the group only if they accept the invitation.
  • Option to mute notifications for groups so if the group is not much relevant to the user and they don’t want to exit it either, they can mute it.

5. Difficult to identify if a profile is real or fake. 🤡

  • Introduce gamification which could add different badges on profiles after reaching several levels like reaching a particular number of posts, likes, etc.

6. The credibility of the information shared in a group. 🤔

  • Allow users to like messages they find important or relevant.
  • Introduce a chatbot or a moderator who could answer the general doubts of the users.
  • Can also introduce a section in group description for FAQs and general queries related to the university.

📖 Learnings and Takeaways

  • Communication skills. Being a bit of an anxious introvert, it was never easy for me to initiate or hold a conversation. This assignment was the perfect opportunity for me to learn this skill. It was quite intimidating initially as I was conducting interviews for the first time, but I didn’t even realize when I started to enjoy it.
  • I got to explore and learn more about human psychology, the most interesting topic. I learned to understand user patterns and derive insights from the conversations.
  • I was skeptical about working in a team but it has only helped to get the best out of me and improve my leadership quality as well (Not bragging though 🤭).
  • I had the chance to talk to some super cool and amazing people who were really helpful and cooperative throughout the interview process. . Cheers to them!

🤝🏼Meet the team

I would like to thank Vaishnav Ramayan and Vishant Kumar for their guidance and feedback.

🙏Thank you for reading till the end. Means a lot. Don’t forget to clap.

🤝🏼You can reach out to me on LinkedIn or Twitter for any feedback, discussion, or anything.

UX Research: The largest online community for study abroad aspirants. was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.