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After gathering and analyzing valuable feedback from our beta, we are nearing the release of our final product


  • We have succeeded in implementing a semi-functional recommender system, which sorts users by similarity scores and presents them to the user with relevant tags ✅
  • The bugs with messaging and request accumulation have been addressed, and the lag has been eliminated ✅
  • As suggested by our beta testers, we improved the look and general experience of the onboarding pages ✅
  • Improve the user interface for the chat page and the profile page ⏳
  • We are still working on the other feature requests from the beta testing, the most prioritized feature being functional friend requests and friend lists ⏳

Personal reflection

This was…

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Implementing the last slew of beta features and performing usability testing


  • Finish implementing the backend infrastructure for instant messaging ✅
  • Finish the user profile page ✅
  • Finish the view profile modal feature on the search page ✅
  • Fix the bugs uncovered during the Beta testing sessions ⏳

Personal reflections

After having finished implementing our Alpha software, we started working on the Beta release. The goal was to showcase our progress towards some of the application’s core features, and to conduct usability testing to make sure that we were moving in the right direction.

We were able to wrap up the instant messaging feature, but discovered significant bugs during usability testing. After multiple messages…

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After improving on our core UI and backend infrastructure, we are now starting work on the Beta features


  • Build a robust backend infrastructure for authentication and direct messaging ✅
  • Refactor the search page, build the user profile and the direct messaging page ✅
  • Build the add friend feature, the recommendation system, and the view profile functionality for the Beta software ⏳

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

After building our MVP, we are starting to implement the second batch of prioritized tasks


  • Implement CSS media queries for a responsive web design ✅
  • Unify the application’s core design system and CSS guidelines ✅
  • Build a robust backend infrastructure for authentication and direct messaging ⏳
  • Refactor the search page, build the user profile and the direct messaging page ⏳

Personal reflections

As we moved into the development stage, we have adopted a more agile structure to our process. For instance, we have scheduled a weekly planning meeting on Mondays, and a weekly retrospective on Fridays. This will allow us to plan our tasks in advance at the beginning of the week, and identify our wins and…

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Interpreting our usability testing data to build and demo our MVP


  • Use the usability testing data to understand the issues faced by our users, and fix them in the MVP
  • Build and demo our MVP
  • Begin planning and scoping requirements for the Alpha software

Personal reflections

We had a lot of long pair programming sessions throughout the week, often extending late into the evening to finish our MVP on time. We chose to focus on the recommendations page as our primary core feature, while also building the surrounding infrastructure to support it, from the landing page and the sign up page, to the navigation sidebar and the user profiles.

Overall, our MVP did…

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Wrapping up the design document, and analyzing the data collected during our usability testing sessions


  • Collect and analyze data from our low-fidelity usability testing sessions
  • Hold discussions about the feedback received during the testing sessions
  • Finalize and submit the system and software architecture requirements

Personal reflections

We held a meeting on Monday right after the usability testing sessions, which helped us discuss our immediate thoughts. We were all pleasantly surprised with how many people liked the general layout of the app, and we obtained some very valuable feedback on how to improve our design.

During this first meeting, we noted down the key areas of improvement we felt we should tackle, and we set some concrete goals…

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Outlining scope, user interface design, and system and software architecture requirements


  • Finalize and submit the final iteration of the low-fidelity prototype
  • Adequately scope our project; add required features and nice-to-haves, and start thinking about division of tasks
  • Iron out our target audience, storyboards, and user interface design sketches
  • Begin discussions on the technical requirements of the project, and conduct in-depth research of key factors in the decision

Personal reflections

After each member sketched out their ideas separately and presented them in the design pitch meetings, we had productive discussions on each layout presented and were able to agree on the general look of the interface.

In the end, we combined several ideas from…

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Conducting usability testing of a UI mockup and elucidating the technical requirements


  1. Design a low-fidelity digital prototype to conduct usability testing on Monday
  2. Discuss the scope and technical requirements of the project
  3. Start working on a design document outlining the scope, the user interface design, and the software and system architecture requirements

Personal reflections

With the product pitch out of the way, it’s time to focus on the actual product now. The first step is to agree on some general design principles for the user interface. We already had some discussions regarding the UI last week, but we now have to start agreeing on the direction the application is taking.

As per the usual…

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From the user experience design brief to the product pitch deck


  1. Review the results of our user research and fine tune some user personas to guide the product design
  2. Brainstorm some ideas for an application to address the main pain points of our users
  3. Incorporate the result of the tasks above into a UX brief to set a design problem and project timeline
  4. Create a pitch deck to present the project idea on Monday

Personal reflections

There’s a lot of work to do this week, so we’ve decided to meet quite a few times to complete both the UX brief and the product pitch on time. In our Monday meeting, we used the…

Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

Identifying problems related to socialization in the age of physical distancing


  1. Formulate a research problem: we chose to focus on the problem of social connections and study groups in a time where education has moved to a primarily online setting
  2. Conduct surveys and interviews to collect user data, and perform qualitative data analysis to identify main pain points
  3. Create an experience map to visualize, understand, and properly address user needs

Personal Reflections

This week marked the first time that all members of the group formally met. We had already agreed on the broad strokes of the problem we were pitching, so we were able to iron out to formulate our problem definition relatively…

Mohamed Harmanani

4th year Computer Science & Philosophy student at the University of Toronto — interested in Data Science, UX Research and Software Development

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