Experience designer & researcher
capsule hero v4.png


College can be a stressful experience that requires students to make many important decisions about their future. Unfortunately in-person advising resources can be limited to discussing graduation requirements and students are left without a continuous advising experience. Capsule is an online portal for college students to reflect, explore, and capture personal insights throughout their college experience. 



Design Brief

The client, the Carnegie Mellon University’s Simon Initiative, presented us with an opportunity to design a service that enhances writing, reflection, and leadership skills in students at CMU. The current formal advising process for CMU undergraduates is fragmented and dependent on student initiative. Students must make important choices about the breadth of experiences possible during college. Yet advising is conducted in 15-minute appointments that leave little time to explore questions outside of registration or the completion of requirements.  

How might we design an advising service that supports students in reflecting on broader life goals beyond graduating, such as what skills they want to learn, what their passions are, or what they want to do after CMU? 

Service Design Course | Fall 2016
Instructor: Jodi Forlizzi

Catherine Chiodo, Caroline Win, Eunsol Byun, Jasmine Kim

UX Research, Service Design, & Video Pitch

UX research, synthesis, concept generation, UI design, video scriptwriting

Simon Initiative


Competitive Analysis
In order to identify the gaps and opportunities, we conducted a competitive analysis of how other universities (ranging from liberal arts colleges to large public universities) have successfully promoted communication and reflection skills in students. 

In-Person Interviews
To gather insights and opinions on communication, writing, and leadership at CMU, we created interview guides and met with the following stakeholders:

7  undergraduate students (from a range of departments)
2  teaching faculty from the School of Computer Science
1  director of the Global Communication Center
1  consultant from the Global Communication Center



We began to synthesize notes from interviews with multiple stakeholders through affinity mapping. 

The affinity diagram surfaced many different issues, factors, and attitudes related to learning about communication, reflection, and leadership skills. In order to better understand the relationships, I created a concept map. This helped us see that while many students at CMU are discovering opportunities to develop leadership and reflection skills, it’s not happening in a systematic or consistent way.

For the second round of research we decided to hone in on the formal and informal advising processes for CMU undergraduates Our goal was to discover how students currently explore and choose from the many opportunities at CMU.

Directed Storytelling

To facilitate the directed storytelling, we provided a timeline for students to mark their advising interactions. We asked students to explain each item they created on the timeline, and took notes as they walked us through their experience. For our discussions with advisors, we asked them to walk us through a typical process for an undergraduate they would work with.

Concept Generation + Evaluation

Through the synthesis of our primary research we identified three broad opportunity areas and generated scenarios and storyboards with potential solutions for each. After testing, we identified the pros and cons of each concept to help us narrow down to a final solution.


We presented our final solution, Capsule, to the Simon Initiative through the video pitch and a presentation of the research that led to this service design. The Simon Initiative appreciated that the solution would integrate the advising experience without necessarily requiring more effort or time from the already overwhelmed academic advisors. They also thought this solution would fit well with Carnegie Mellon University's goals to provide students with more mental health and wellness support, as activities can focus on beyond academic goals. 


Service Blueprint

Value Flow for Stakeholders