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CourseMaster: An Academic Shopping Experience

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Product Concept



Product Thinking
User Research
A/B Testing

Tools Used



Individual Project


2 weeks


Created and tested a prototype of a web app that helps provide Cornell students with personalized courses.


User Research

Design Principles & Ideation

Design & Prototyping

User Testing

Design Problem

Many students at Cornell have a difficult time discovering popular courses or knowing what they want to major in. As a result, enrolling in courses for an upcoming semester can be stressful and confusing.

Using too many academic management platforms

Course enrollment stress

New students have difficulty discovering fun courses 

Current academic management platforms are unintuitive to use

Design Challenge

How can I design a product that helps reduce stress for Cornell students during course enrollment?


Design Solution

I created CourseMaster, a web app that turns course-browsing into an exploratory shopping experience. CourseMaster also creates a personalized list of suggested courses based on their graduation requirements and interests.

User Research

1. User Interviews

I started the design process by conducting user interviews with 10 Cornell students, and found that many of them reported high stress during course enrollment.


New students want more resources for browsing and discovering courses

Some new students may not be familiar with popular courses throughout campus, and wish they have more resources to discover them.


Many students are stressed out by the use of multiple platforms

Many students became stressed and confused when using multiple Cornell-developed platforms to plan and organize courses.

How do you hear about interesting courses?

Word of mouth

Social Media


Course Listings



2. User Surveys

Using a survey with 37 responses, I found that the most common way Cornell students find out about interesting courses is by word of mouth. This suggests that there is a lack of other resources on discovering these courses.

3. User Personas

I developed two user personas based on two major types of interviewees: ambitious returning students, and new students who are unfamiliar with academic management at Cornell.


Design Principles & Ideation

4. Design Principles


Focus on creating a personalized shopping experience, not just features.


Fail fast, fail often; test lo-fi ideas before implementation.


Keep branding in mind as a major part of product development.


Keep within Cornell AppDev's design language so it can be incorporated in their suite of apps.

5. Brainstorming a Course Discovery Platform

Keeping in mind that students need an all-in-one platform for discovering courses, I drew inspiration from existing products that use discovery and personalized content for users.

Based on the research insights and design principles, I created a mind map that encompasses both CourseMaster's branding and potential features.

Products that utilize discovery and personalized content

Music Streaming


TV/Movie Streaming


Shopping Apps & Sites


Mind Map

Design, Prototype, & Testing

Home Page


"Discover" Categories


"For You" Page


Course Details Page


Schedule Page


Favorites Page


5. Card Sorting and User Feedback

Within the first round of card sorting, user feedback indicated that the navigation introduced too much friction and related sections were distributed in different categories.

6. Reorganizing Personalized Content 

Based on the user feedback, I reorganized personalized content such as the suggested courses sections and favorited courses sections to a new profile page, where users view and manage all of their personalized content and information. I removed the "Discover" page, since this could be replaced with a search menu.

Profile Page


Edit Profile


7. User Flow

The user flow illustrates the typical tasks that a user might go through when interacting with the web app. It is broken down into 3 major tasks: profile management, searching and adding courses to a schedule, and browsing suggested courses.


Manage profile

Search and add courses to schedule

Browse courses for you

Home Page

Course Page

Schedule Page

Profile Page

Edit Profile

Search Results

8. Rapid Prototyping

I developed a set of low fidelity wireframes to quickly design the layout of the website. Throughout my process, I used preference testing with students to figure out the best layout iterations.

9. Visual System


Mood Board



Style Guide




Final Prototype

Search and Filter Options

Since new and current students want to explore specific categories of courses, search and filtering are essential features. I designed both a search bar and a search-and-filter menu, in which A/B testing results suggested that the menu provided higher conversion rates for search requests than the search bar.


Profile Creation for Personalized Courses 

For users to receive suggested courses, the profile creation process guides them on inputing some of their interests as a starting point. When browsing courses, the suggest courses algorithm adjusts based on the browsing history of courses for users.

Add Courses to Your Schedule

Students can add courses to their schedule by navigating to a course page and selecting a time slot.

Course has open seats

Course is closed

Waitlist status



What I learned

1. Testing early helps accelerate the design process.

By testing ideas through card sorting and early stage prototypes like wireframes, I was able to figure what was working or not before high fidelity implementation.

2. Practice product thinking on an ecosystem level.

Cornell students are using using multiple apps for academic management. With this in mind, I thought about Cornell Design and Tech Initiative's entire suite of products and how users would use CourseMaster along with other apps.

Future Steps

1. Develop a high fidelity web app prototype with frontend and backend code.

Using prototyping tools like Figma can help produce quick testing results, but coding a frontend experience along with a backend database can pave the way for testing user actions that change system data.

2. Start using an agile workflow. 

Although agile workflows are usually most optimized for teams, they would help me realize CourseMaster as a fully functional product more efficiently when incorporating software development in my design sprints.

Other Work

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