Sahil's summer work experience at ustwo


Words by Sahil M
Posted over 3 years ago

Sahil spent a week at design studio Ustwo prototyping an app for refugees.

I entered the studio at 9:00, the first thing that stuck out was the life size plastic cow in the corner of the room. The space was full of colour and creativity, and the atmosphere was buzzing,it was nothing like a dull Monday morning in a normal office. I got to meet some of the staff that worked at Ustwo, after having brief conversations and getting to know them, I could immediately tell what principle they specialised in. I steered more towards the developers and visual designers as I was interested in going down one of those paths in the future.

I spent the first day at Ustwo learning about problem solving, looking at the many types of problems we face everyday. During the first day, I also decided on an overarching theme which was War and Conflict, in which I was told to delve deeper and look at more specific problems. This brought me to the issue of refugees who enter a new country and are unable to find accommodation.

On the second day, we went through how to actually solve these problems, me focussing on the problem that I’ve chosen specifically. After many good and bad ideas, I came to the conclusion of an app that resembles Airbnb, but for refugees, and after confirming with the mentors I was tasked with researching around the topic. For instance looking for other competitors, on different platforms as well. I found that there is no other app that offers this service that is available in the UK.

After this I started drawing storyboards to see what situation this app could be used in. During I realised that giving this app to refugees would be appropriate due to language barriers and unpredictable circumstances they may face, therefore to resolve this the app would be used by representatives of refugees where they can view hosts suitable for their refugees.

On the third day, I began working on the app itself and started with a few sketches of the screens which started evolving into more detailed drawings. From these drawings, I used the software Sketch and Marvel to bring my app to life. I spent the whole day creating all the screens with guidance from my mentor for that day, Matt Gypps, who was a visual designer.

The fourth day consisted of user testing, where we all went up to the ventures floor to test our apps with member of different start ups. Creating a plan of the questions beforehand made it a lot easier. Also, taking note of all the great  feedback made me realised how you see your own creation may not be how other people see or use it. Today also had a group meeting that was like a standup, but was called a ‘Retro’, meaning retrospective, where everyone said where they were up to, what they had appreciated, and what they could have done differently. The rest of the day consisted of implementing all the feedback we received.

The start of the last day was finishing off our applications, this is when we were told we would be pitching to ‘likely investors’. So the rest of the day til 3pm was creating or pitches and practicing what we would say. I didn’t feel as nervous as the other students, because of Ada I was fine doing a pitch in front of all those investors. As my pitch started I passed around my app on Marvel on a couple of phones, where I explained the problem I wanted to solve, other competitors, user testing feedback and an app demonstration.

These 5 days ended with what went well, what could be improved and thank yous. No one could say anything they would improve, and many of the thank yous were to the great mentors we’ve had.

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