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Updated: Mar 8

Client: Olivet Nazarene University

Discipline: App Design, Digital Design

The purpose of the PERSIST app is to create daily mindfulness for Olivet’s online learners, reminding them that they are Olivet students all week, not just on Sundays when their assignments are due. 

The main objectives of the app were as follows:

  • Create social connection through forums, links to connect with advisor/coach, and other students

  • Empower them with tools to help build persistence: Time management, study skills, reading skills, test-taking skills, working in small groups, etc.

  • Provide resources and direct connections for seeking support (writing, academic coaching, mental health, etc.)

  • Motivate them through establishing and dashboard tracking of their SMART goals in 4 areas of their lives: Academic, Social, Spiritual, and Health

Olivet’s Veritas program (online learning) was trying to solve the problem of online students feeling disconnected and indifferent towards their educational experience. They wanted to minimize the percentage of students not finishing their degree. 

We decided to test the idea of an app by building out a beta version, then having a select group of students test it for a four-week time period. We would then conduct focus groups to gather insight on the app from a user perspective. 

As I began to wire frame the app, I looked at a lot of fitness and weight loss apps; Noom, Asana, Sweat, Baby to Body, etc. If a large focus of the app was to help students build habits, I needed to look at other apps that were already helping people do that. 

The initial ideas from the Veritas team included heavy purple backgrounds and lots of gold text. An app like this needed to feel light, achievable, inspiring. I changed the background to lighter tones with high energy colors for the action items. 

When it came time to test the app, our beta still did not include many of the functionalities we were hoping to test with the focus groups. However, we were locked in to a timeline due to the academic calendar.

One key takeaway from the focus groups was that the students who were involved and likely to succeed academically were the students that used the app most effectively. The students who were struggling (the students we most wanted to use the app) stopped using the app after 1-2 weeks.

It was decided that perhaps an app was not the best way to solve the retention challenge that Veritas was facing. The image below shows the handout we gave to our focus group participants. On the handout, you can see screenshots of how the app actually turned out.

Based on the key takeaway from the focus groups and lack of continued funding, the Veritas team put the app production on hold. Despite not being able to see the app to completion, I consider this project a valuable lesson in basic problem solving and the Veritas team continues to improve their retention rates through different avenues.


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