Abroad experience blog concept



UX & Design


School project


June 2016

Within this school project we were tasked to pursue a personal ambition. Ideate a project ourselves, being the client ourselves.

Because of my experience abroad I was genuinely interested in advocating international ambition. Besides, I felt that schools and universities lack adequate ways to stimulate their students to explore options like studying abroad, abroad internships or sebatical years. This motivated me to start ideating a way to reach and stimulate students to discover opportunities abroad.


I organised depth interviews with 7 students with international experience and 1 expert from a company organising abroad language courses and internships: Don Quijote in Rotterdam. Goal was to get inspired and find out everything about motivations, triggers, obstacles, experiences and how they think about ways to motivate others to go abroad.

Most interesting outcomes

  • We must stimulate inner desires instead of repressing them because of the straitjacket of society.
  • Experiences, specific anecdotes and personal contact generate genuine motivation.
  • Alumni often make the difference. Stories from companies are experienced as less objective.


I learned that intrinsic motivation should be my target to trigger. Once students' intrinsic motivation is strong enough, they will be determined to pursue every ambition that arises.

I started generating ideas on how to intrinsicly inspire students within a university setting. How can we make impact and achieve behaviour change?

My focus was on finding an interactive, engaging way that focuses on specific stories and anecdotes from alumni.

Hidden design

In order to test some ideas, I applied a hidden design approach and designed an intervention to carry out at university: An analogue board where students could create a bucket list full of abroad challenges. Ideas for abroad challenges were provided on tiny cards, but they could also add their own ideas to the board.

After the intervention the students were interviewed about how they experienced the intervention and asked about what they think about an interactive solution to consume inspiring stories.

Most interesting outcomes

  • Students think that "it" should also be usable outside of university.
  • Reading stories could be fun and motivating if they're well written.
  • Some might prefer to get in contact with alumni personally.

Concept & UX

I figured to go for an online, primarily mobile concept. I created the idea of a sort of Tinder for abroad experience stories: An endless stream of abroad experiences you can like, read and save, or swipe away.


Swipe up the circle for random story suggestions.

Story detail

Save a story to your "backpack" (bottom-right), swipe up a new one (bottom-center) or mark as (bottom-left).

Backpack overview

A board of all the stories you saved in your backpack.

Story detail

Read saved stories and ask questions to the writer (bottom-right).

User test

I sent the prototype plus an additional questionnaire to the people that participated in research earlier. The feedback showed clearly that I had focused too much on creating new concepts of interaction, which ended up worsening the usability of the app.

Most interesting outcomes

  • The swipe and "save to backpack" interactions are not intuitive. Users don't get them.
  • Users feel like their isn't a lot of choice.
  • Users don't read explanatory text.
  • Users don't want to login to use the app.
  • People are missing a sort of "Home".

Iteration & Design

I had to get rid of all the difficult interactions and focus on the articles and giving the user more control over selecting the content they want to read. Only a random story shooter wasn't interesting enough.

For a next version was inspired by Spotify and Medium, Spotify offering differing categories of music collections, and Medium displaying only the necessary UI elements when necessary and thus totally focusing on their content.

Check the designs in Marvel

Browse stories, right from the start

I created an overview with different categories of stories to browse through.

Modular articles, easy writing and reading

Stories are built up like a Q&A. Writers can choose from a set of fixed questions, or add their own topics

Users can easily select the topics they want to know about.

Wild suggestions, based on your favourites

I created a more intuitive UI for swiping through suggested stories.

Flag favourites, find related content, or document your own story.

Articles that are 'flagged' appear on the user's map: a personal whish list. Related stories can be discovered on the bottom of every flagged article.

Eventually, when users go on their own adventure abroad, they will be able to share their stories within the app as well.

So much to talk about

There is more than meets the eye. Interested in knowing more about this project? Drop me a message.