Shao-Jo Lin | Designer + Art Director




Connect with Friends and Families in Different Time Zones.



My role

User Research
UX Strategy
UX/UI Design
Art Direction
Brand Strategy


General Assembly - User Experience Design


Kiri Martin





Connect is an mobile application which enables users to better stay connected with their friends and families in different time zones. Users willl be able to set the status for their messages and phone calls so that their families would be able to know if the messages and calls are urgent or not.



Create a way for international students to better stay connected with their families in different time zones.  



I conducted interviews on my international students friends to find out about their pain points when trying to stay connected with their families in different time zones. I analyzed the interview results by affinity mapping, creating user persona, and developing storyboards. The research and analysis help me gain insight of the pain points that the users is experiencing and to construct a better solution to their problems. After multiple iterations, I create a mobile application, Connected, aiming at helping international students to stay connected with their families.    


Connected enables users to:

  1. Notify their families and get responses immediately when important things happens

  2. Reach out to their families when they need without worrying about disturbing them at a bad time

  3. Easily find out different time zones that their families members are currently at




At the beginning of the project, I tried to find out what the major obstacles the international students face are. So I conducted 3 quick and open ended interviews with my international students friends and see if there is any problem that they have when trying to stay connected with their families.


These unstructured interviews help me to explore different problems that my target users are facing. I eventually narrowed down on designing a solution for the the uncertainty of timing for communication. My target users are often unsure when to call their family, and are worried that it might be a bad timing to call their family. So often times, when there is something really important happen, they just send a message and wait for responses. If they don’t get responses immediately, they feel frustrated and turn to someone else. As time goes by, they stop sharing important things with their family and the connection between them and their family become weaker and weaker.



Quotes from 1st interview:

“I usually just text my family.”

“Some of the things that you want to convey is very hard to do it through text. ”

“When you just use text, it is very hard to convey your tone.”

“If it is on the phone, you will know what the other person needs very easily”


Quotes from 2nd interview:

“I think of my family at the moment that is really important, no matter it is when I got promoted, or at a time I am really stressed. I think of them and would try to have conversation with them.”

“Group chat notifications are annoying when the people in the group are talking to each other but not me. It is annoying to have the notification keep popping up when I am busy.”

“It is really frustrating that when I have something really important to share with them and they are not able to reply because of the time difference or because they are in the middle of something. And I just have to share with someone else.”


Quotes from 3rd interview:  

“I call my parents every weekend. We have a set schedule because that is more convenient for both of us.”

“Sometimes there are unimportant messages that I am too busy to reply. But it’s over there and it bothers me. Also, if I don’t reply in a timely manner, my family often ask why or even get mad sometimes but I am just really too busy.”

“I sometimes forget the things that I want to share with them when we skype.”

Affinity Map

Affinity Map



I have a hard time:

  • Deciding whether to call my family or not because of time difference

  • Reaching out to my family when I need them

  • Communicating my feeling just through text

I want to:

  • Easily know their time zone

  • Easily know when their free time are

  • Not worried about reaching out to them at a bad timing when I need them

  • Let my family know that sometimes I am busy and might not be able to reply unurgent messages


Current Solutions

During the interviews, I found that all there are 3 major communication apps that my target users use to communicate with their families in different time zones.


1. Line: Line is a messenger app that is popular in Asia which offers games, stickers, music, manga, E-commerce, payment options, and other content. Available in both desktop and mobile version. But my target users mainly just use Line’s mobile app to send messages and stickers to their families and friends.   


2. Skype: Skype is an instant messaging app that provides online text message and video chat services. Users may transmit both text and video messages, and may exchange digital documents such as images, text, and video. My target users mainly use Skype to do video chat with their families. Unlike texting, video chat is not something that you can do whenever you want. So what my users usually do is to schedule a video chat with their families and friends in advance.  

Line copy.png

3. What’s App: WhatsApp Messenger is a freeware and cross-platform instant messaging service for smartphones. It uses the Internet to make voice calls, one to one video calls; send text messages, images, GIF, videos, documents, user location, audio files, phone contacts and voice notes using standard cellular mobile numbers. What’s App is also used for texting their friends by my target users.  

Line copy 2.png


Photo by  on  Unsplash

User Persona



We believe that by developing an app that allows users to get immediate support and response from their family for people who are away from home, we will achieve eliminating users’ depression. We will know this to be true when we see that users are happier and having stronger connection with their families.



From the research, I noticed that the main reason why people do not call their family even if they really want to is that

  • Time difference: they do not know whether their family is sleeping or in the middle of something

  • Wrong signal: Phone calls might give the wrong signal to their family; since they rarely call their families, when their families suddenly receive phone calls from them, their families would think that something bad happened. 

By creating an instant message app which allows users to 

  1. know the recipients' availability,

  2. let the recipients know if the call is urgent or not in advance

It will increase the chance for the international students/workers feel free to call their families and receive immediate responses from them, and further  strength their connection with their families. 


Card Sorting


Lo-fi Wireframe

The testing result is pretty ideal. Apart from the feature which allows the users to set status from themselves, it is similar to other instant messaging app. So I decided to create hi-fi wireframes for this app. 


Hi-fi Wireframe 

Artboard Copy.png


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