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VYB Kampüs - A Corporate Social Platform

Work Project

2020 - Present

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Project Context

I am part of a volunteer team called Social Communication Team in our department at my workplace . The team was assembled by our department manager in November 2020 who sent out a survey to all the employees in the department when he was first assigned to his position.

 

One of the biggest issues people rised was the lack of communication with other teams, worsened by the remote working situation due to the pandemic. After our team consisting of four people was formed, our department manager gave us full autonomy on how we wanted to achieve better communication within the department and ensured we would get all the resources we asked from him.

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Research

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We analyzed the surveys, conducted a desk research regarding to online communication, and planned a yearly strategy to increase communication within the department.

The biggest project we wanted to bring to life was developing a social platform where people could keep up to date with the events in the department, share their personal interests, watch recordings of the events they missed, have a direct way to contact the department manager, etc.

While our other two teammates kick-started some of our recurring events, my co-worker - whom I also work with in our primary team - and I overtook the social platform work.

We had several challenges ahead of us.

UX Design

Our goal was clear from the get-go. We were going to develop a platform that people wanted to visit. I led the UX Design process. In addition to the survey results we had, I conducted personal interviews with several co-workers who had different interests and backgrounds. Whilst some wanted a place to share their thoughts, some just wanted to be in the loop. There were a couple of people who thought a social platform was unnecessary to begin with, that people tried different approaches to create a better social environment but it never stuck. I especially asked more about what lacked in previous attempts.

The biggest reason the previous attempts failed was because they interested only the same handful of people, and most people felt they didn't belong. That was exactly what we wanted to avoid, so we brainstormed about how we could make our co-workers feel involved in the process from the get go.

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We sent out a survey for people to suggest a name for the new platform and then we made a poll to collectively decide what we call it. Our department picked: VYB Kampüs (The Data Management Department Campus)

My co-worker and I had accessibility in mind at every step of the process. We wrote media queries for many resolutions since our co-workers used various screens and we made sure everything was legible because we have a lot of senior staff who always asked for bigger and clearer fonts.

I also designed the platform colorful and friendly, as opposed to our company's chic and formal blue-whites, so that when people visited VYB Kampüs they could feel like they were having a time off rather than doing just another work-related task. 

Engagement

We were developing something that was not tried in our department before, and we needed a way to make people get used to visiting our platform. 

People could register for events on VYB Kampüs and also ask direct questions to our department manager, while other people could upvote their inquiries. We developed a logging system to see which content interested people as well as to track retention and distinct users. Unfortunately, these weren't enough when we released VYB Kampüs in April 2021. Even though we updated the platform with interesting content regularly, people didn't know about them because they weren't visiting it. We weren't getting any more than 10 visits a day whilst our events had an average attendance of 200 people, almost 90% of the department.

We talked to some of our co-workers to figure out how we could make it more appealing to them, and they informed us that they enjoyed the platform fine, they just didn't remember checking it. We decided on releasing a weekly bulletin to update people on what is new on VYB Kampüs, what blogs to read, and what events to watch out for with a direct link attached at the top of the e-mail. This simple solution we came up with thanks to the user feedback was a game-changer and our visits skyrocketed. 

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Time Constraints

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Since the Social Communcation Team is a voluntary team we had to divide our time between our primary work and VYB Kampüs development process. We aimed for an April 2021 release, so we had to work overtime many days to keep up with our schedule. We were also giving support to the events and had other commitments outside of work. We had to cut off some of the functionalities we wanted to include and decided to plan multiple iterarions of the platform. That helped us finish the project on time and VYB Kampüs went live at the planned date. 

The Team

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Devrim Sezer

Lead Programmer

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Öykü Yıldızhan

Designer & Junior Programmer

Conclusion

VYB Kampüs is one of the first projects I was directly involved with from start to finish. It gave me the opportunity to make important decisions, practice UX Design in a professional environment, see a vision come to life with a lot of end-users.

It was also an important learning experience about how even a small feedback can make big changes, and how to better plan iterations and development schedules. We are currently working on the second update with all the know-how and feedback we accumulated in the previous versions.

In October 2021, our department manager sent out the survey again to see how the opinions of people had changed in the past year. The results showed that everyone was extremely happy with how much they get to interact with other teams regularly and how their communication with each other was so much better now. That alone assured me that UX Design can make a big difference in people's lives and I am grateful for having the chance to be involved in this project.

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