Mastercard | baobab social media learning platform
Desktop and Mobile App UX + Visual Design
Baobab: a new kind of social network
Thousands of students from African countries pursue their education each year through the support of The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program. Becoming a MasterCard Foundation Scholar can be a life-changing moment that opens up opportunities to study at top universities in Africa and around the world.
At Artefact, I was asked to help design a community that would support Scholars throughout their education and set them up for success long after graduation.
This community would be based on a new social learning platform that elevates scholarship into a source of lifelong learning and empowers the next generation of African leaders to create social change.
Because this community was so large and diverse, we wanted to ensure the system was scalable across both desktop and mobile, yet each element completely accessible. We felt the onboarding process for new scholars would be critical to enabling integration. If we could get them to properly signal what they were interested in and tie that into the network, much of the rest of the experience would be set up for success. We began sketching big picture flows and interaction models before considering the details of the visual design.
I wanted the scholars to simply be able to say what they wanted to do. This led me to design a phrase-based onboarding system that would be the portal to the rest of the network.
This led to basing much of the UI around phrases to help make it more intuitive and clear.
We worked through dozens of higher fidelity UX flows to ensure the community was functional and accessible.
The result was a community enabling scholars to easily exchange ideas and learn from each other. They are able to join forces and share resources on common challenges to help them accomplish their goals, boost their resumes, and attract employers.
Sparking conversations and community
Before Baobab, Scholars had no way to easily connect with fellow Scholars involved in The MasterCard Foundation across campuses and programs. Baobab acts as a digital rolodex, giving Scholars instant access to a community of students like them who share their experiences and can serve as a built-in support system as they adjust to life in a new location.
Connecting Scholars with experience and expertise
We designed space within Baobab for Scholars to meet career mentors and find job opportunities to accelerate their success once Scholars return home. Specially invited African business and community leaders participate in Baobab as mentors and chat directly with Scholars, answer their questions and provide valuable professional advice.
Today, more than 2,000 Scholars from nearly every sub-Saharan country use Baobab, with thousands of new users becoming eligible each year.
Scholars use the platform daily to connect with others, tackle shared challenges and find inspiration and guidance from mentors. For more information, please visit