Date Night

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As part of the Graduate Design Research Techniques class at Stanford, my team and I were given the following prompt to prototype a new service for grad students:

Staying Sane at Stanford

The User Research Phase

After developing an interview guide, we conducted deep-dive interviews with several grad students at Stanford. By grounding our observations from an empathy lens, we aimed to get a deep insight into the lives of these grad students in order to unearth non-obvious insights about issues that might be affecting their mental health.

From our research, we decided to narrow down our focus on grad students who lived on campus with their children, since we realized that this group was surprisingly missing from the major campus wide mental health programs that were currently in place.

Over the course of a few weeks,we shadowed a couple of students who had children on campus. At the end of the observation phase, our team would synthesise their findings by using the 2x2s framework. With the aid of several design thinking frameworks, such as the Powers of Ten and the Converging and Diverging framework, we unearthed the following non-trivial insight.

Grad students with children often needed space (both physical as well as mental) to re-connect with their partners.

We also realized that most activities on campus were not designed with keeping the needs of students with children in mind. For instance, events were usually organized during evenings or late at night, when these parents would be busy with putting their children to sleep. Also, parents would often rely on requesting their friends to babysit their children in case they needed to spend time with their partners. However, due to the informal nature of this arrangement, parents would also feel embarassed for regularly asking their friends for this favour.

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The Service Idea and Prototype

Based on our findings, we came up with “Date Night”, a service that would allow graduate students with children to hire the services of a campus wide babysitting network in order to attend social events on campus. Date Night would be integrated as a paid service across all campus-wide social activities. For a nominal monthly fee, parents could sign up to attend several social events, while Stanford students would volunteer to babysit their children.

We prototyped this service with a few Stanford students who had children, by babysitting their children while the parents went to watch a movie. The response from the parents was very positive. To help graduate students with children to manage their mental health, we believe that such a service could easily be adopted across universities.


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