Lifelong learning platform designed for the UC Davis Graduate School of Management is the bridge in maintaining connections with the alumni community.

UC Davis Graduate School of Management 
April 2023 - June 2023 

UI/UX Design, User Research, Ideation, Brand Design

Vineela Donthi, Kayla Ho, Audrey Ino, Angela Hawkins, & Sadeed Adnan 


A place for alumni to up-skill and develop professionally, network, and maintain connections.


After graduating, many alumni found it hard to maintain the connection they had with the GSM despite having existing resources like an alumni directory, cross-campus networking events, and platforms such as LinkedIn. These obstacles resulted in limited active engagement in GSM-related opportunities, often due to geographical constraints and other personal commitments.


This project was commissioned by the Dean of the Graduate School of Management (GSM), who wanted to express the GSM’s lifelong commitment to the professional success of their alumni post-grad and into the future with a website that offered on-demand GSM course content and certification courses.

Narrowing concepts and translating key features into functioning prototypes


I maintained consistent collaboration with Product Managers, UX researchers, another designer, and stakeholders, often being the go-to person for design-related inquiries. In developing this platform, I wanted to ensure that the designs were closely aligned with user needs, client objectives, and technical feasibility. More specifically, my tasks included:

  • Capturing and synthesizing insights from user research
  • Affinity map
  • User personas
  • Feature ideation
  • Branding
  • Low-fidelity wireframes
  • High-fidelity wireframes
  • High-fidelity prototype
  • Iterations & final touches

the research

Gathering Insights


With a lifelong learning platform in mind, Dean Unnava had 2 initial offers to alumni of the site:

  1. GSM course content
  2. Professional certifications


With Dean Unnava's 2 main needs in mind, our team conducted research to uncover alumni pain points and needs. Our research goals were:

  1. Better understanding of the relationship between alumni, GSM professors, and staff
  2. Define the current user journey for post-grad learning
  3. Identify challenges alumni face when seeking to learn a new topic


After a focus group interview, alumni interviews, and a survey, 3 main pain points were uncovered.

  1. GSM Community + Support
    Alumni want to communicate with one another and the GSM more directly
  2. Networking + Mentorship
    Alumni want to connect with one another for professional reasons (seeking/providing mentorship, job aid, similar industry, etc.)
  3. Learning
    Alumni want to learn, discuss, and stay up to date with current industry trends in their own time

Alumni Perspective

Discovering alumni experiences and crafting user stories



Professionally connecting with others to strengthen their existing knowledge, find new professional opportunities, and build their current network


Prefers to gain the most knowledge by using up the least amount of time


Whether it be a certification or more knowledge on a specific topic, alumni like tangible results and the feeling of accomplishment


Rachel, a high level manager at a Fortune 500

“I try to help out and stay in touch as much as I can but it’s a lot harder now compared to when I was a student at the GSM”

Tony, a senior at a mid-sized comapany

“I am well far into my career but with technology moving so fast, I am having trouble keeping up with current industry trends.”

Zara, an associate at a start-up

“My company is hiring internally for a marketing manager, but I’m worried I won’t get the role. ”

Problem Statment

From the research results, this served as our guiding questoin


create a centralized platform where alumni and students can access high-quality learning content, and facilitate meaningful conversations between eager professionals, all while continuing to cultivate a strong sense of community to support the ever-growing UC Davis Graduate School of Management?


Developing the solution


The whole team aligned many times to come up with feature ideas. In the end, this is the MVP feature set finalized by the PMs that addresses the core alumni needs and meets the client’s satisfaction.


User Flow

The project managers (PMs) made this user flow to demonstrate an alumni's journey on the site and each feature's role in this path.

Utilizing this diagram significantly streamlined my design process. I used this to envision the interface through the users' eyes, enhancing my understanding of page and feature placements.


Using Figma to transform our ideas into reality

My Frames

Out of all our features, I designed these frames:

  1. Login Landing Page
  2. Onboarding Learning Preference Quiz
  3. Learning Content 
  4. Saved Learning Content
  5. Alumni Directory
  6. Alumni Location Geomap
  7. Upload Content (Article, Video, & Podcast)
  8. Alumni-posted Content

My design partner spearheaded the onboarding profile quiz, discussion forum, messaging, and alumni profile. Check out her work here!


Wireframes to prototypes

Building the foundation, stacking the details

The GSM Lifelong Learning Platform's underlying structure was tailored to its unique audience. Our goal was to stand out as more than a content platform, personalizing the experience for alumni, GSM content, and the GSM admin.


In the lo-fi stage, I focused on getting high-priority solutions on the screen while refining lower-priority components and visual details.


For mid-fi, my aim was to prepare essential features for alumni testing in the Figma prototype. This involved adding branding, copytext, and more detail, considering not everyone is familiar with UX design processes. My goal was to gather focused feedback on the tested features and interactions.


What alumni had to say 

Overall, alumni thought the product was usable and made sense:

🙂 "Most parts were intuitive"

😁 "If I were to use this, I would be happy with it. I don’t think it needs tons of work other than the feedback I gave"

😆 "It looks very clean and organized" (learning page)

Post-usability testing observations

My goals for iterations

Decrease task time

Users took longer than expected to look for certain things or perform certain tasks, so optimizing for efficient task completion is a priority.

Visual comprehension

Given the amount of information on the site, it's essential to ensure alumni have a clear and understandable path to their goal without being led astray, improving attention management.


To enhance user experience, particularly for those less familiar with e-learning platforms, ensuring terminology and patterns are clear and universally understandable is crucial.

Feature group #1

Learning Content Discovery


Alumni Directory


Alumni Generated Content 



Lifelong Learning Platform


Learning Preferences Onboarding Quiz

A learning preference quiz for personalized recommendations

Learning Content

A collection of educational and academic resources for alumni

Filter Learning Content

Alumni can specify their industry of interest, learning format, producer, etc. to narrow down searches and find relevant content

Saved Learning Content

A personalized learning library of saved content relevant to an alumni's interests and goals

Edit Learning Preferences

Alumni can align content and learning experiences with updated learning goals 

Upload Content

Alumni can post their own articles, videos, and podcasts to share their knowledge with each other


Alumni generated posts

Alumni Directory

A searchable directory that allows alumni to connect with each other based on location, industry, profession, etc.


An expandable/collapsable map that shows alumni in a city for networking purposes



Phew! What a fun opportunity

Now, here is everything that wrinkled my brain & that I am proud of


Figma prototyping constraints

Prototyping the advanced filter system was frustrating because Figma didn’t offer multiple actions or conditionals for prototyping. Therefore, I wasn’t able to accurately portray how the filtering interaction worked where users could select multiple filters or showed conditional results. This was especially a problem during usability testing. 

With that being said, this has made me super eager to learn a new prototyping and usability testing tool to expand my toolbox. Right now I'm eyeing Maze, Axure, and Protopie.


The value of a PM

This was my very first time seeing amazing PMs at work and experiencing their value firsthand. I was in awe with how they used Notion for the roadmap, how they set up product requirements, feature prioritization and feasibility, and just the ease their presence gave the team.


Using 8pt grid

This project was the first time I worked with a client so I wanted to deliver seamless designs. I learned how to design with an 8pt grid to keep development in mind and ensure that engineers would be able to figure out the spacing. Although this took me a while to set up and even design with, I’m proud that I learned and used it.

New prototyping techniques

I learned a lot of new prototyping techniques in Figma (radio buttons, interactive maps, horizontal scrolling with buttons, swapping instances, and so much more). It was pretty cool to feel like I reached an upper limit of possibilities (like conditional selections in the prototype, filters, and Figma glitching).


My team & AggieWorks!

This porject wouldn't have been possible in my design journey without my role as Director of Product Design at AggieWorks. This was the highlight of my final year in undergrad! I'm inspired and grateful for the growth I've experienced with everyone at AggieWorks. Lastly, thank you to Dean Unnava at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management for trusting us with this impactful project

Like what you see?

Let’s connect! I’d love to chat about design, hobbies, and more (:

© Ying Liu 2022

Made with 🩸 💦 💧
(blood, sweat, & tears)