Bloc Mentor Dashboard Improvements


Help Bloc mentors support students more effectively by prioritizing their inbox of action items and streamline the steps for completion.

Design Methods

Product Designer

Outcomes Team

2015 Q3

By mid-2015, Bloc has launched its first, intensive career-track program. In order to help mentors handle the increased student load, we revamped the mentor dashboard to streamline the common tasks.

The stages of mentorship
Via a survey of common dashboard actions, I discovered that mentors of different roster sizes and tenure at Bloc utilize their dashboard in different ways. In order to design for scale, we designed for our most senior mentors at Bloc, the power users.

Junior Mentor
Less than 6 months at Bloc
Less than 5 active students
Reactively responds to issues (notifications) as they come.
Responds first-in-first-out.

Asks themselves:
How many notifications do I have?
What kind of notifications do I have?
How old are the notifications?
Who do I need to nudge?
Experienced Mentor
6–10 months at Bloc
5–7 active students
The Prioritizer
Dashboard overview is becoming too distracting.
Focusing attention on one student at a time.

Asks themselves:
Who am I meeting with next?
Who has been blocked for a while?
Power Mentors
10+ months at Bloc
9+ active students
Looking at the big picture of the students' goals and outcomes.
Comparing students against each other and against previous students.
Planning ahead in order to manage large student load.

Asks themselves:
What am I doing for the next week?
How many students are ahead/behind/on pace? Which students?
Who is graduating soon?
Who am I meeting with next?
Who are my students?
Who has been inactive for a while?

Design Goals
The existing mentor dashboard contained a feed of various types of notifications: in-app messages, assignment submissions, and student report cards (often expired). I conducted a usability study and semi-structured interviews with 5 mentors, ranked the severity of issues, and parsed the insights with the product manager to prioritize the phases and subtasks of this project.

  1. Group notifications by type
    Increase response time to factors blocking student progress by prioritizing assignment submissions, then messages, then all other announcements.
  2. Functional student roster
    Increase mentor referral rating by displaying only active students and their status from the default view so mentors can filter notifications by the students that need the most attention.
  3. Quick access to student contact information
    Encourage a healthy level of communication between mentors and students by providing accessible links to student contact and profile information from the dashbaord.

Hover to see the areas of the old dashboard targeted by the redesign.

The areas of the old dashboard targeted by the redesign.

In addition to these design goals, the redesign had to be designed with consideration for the mobile web.

Agile Design + Development
While I had an idea of what the "North Star" was in mind, in order to iterate and get feedback quickly, we decided to tackle a part of the dashboard at a time while I continued to refine and prototype. This means that for a time, the dashboard had mix-styles of old and new, but we were able to deliver value to our mentors quickly.

September 10, 2015
Kicked off project with brainstorming and feature prioritization. Began design work.

September 22, 2015
Kicked off engineering for functional requirements (mostly related to notification and dismissal logic).

October 1, 2015
Kicked off engineering for UI/UX updates notifications section. Throughout October, I maintained a personal repository of a high-fidelity, interactive protototype to test with users and define UI specifications for engineering.
November 16, 2015
The entire dashboard revamped and considered engineering-complete.

Additional iterations
I had gone as far as prototyping a "Version 2" of the dashboard, allowing mentors to complete tasks and send messages directly from the dashboard (prototype here). This has yet to be built.

However, throughout the next year as Bloc undergoes organizational and product changes, the dashboard has held up to the necessary changes with minimal engineering effort.