Moving people from screens to friends
Service Design, User Experience Strategy, Project Management, Business Development
How to involve diverse student groups on a college campus with each other in the real world?
The National Institute of Design, PG Campus at Gandhinagar is home to over 250 students. Coming from all over India, these students bring with them cultural and lived histories. Between busy academic schedules, social media addiction social stigmas and general awkwardness, the immense potential for social engagement and enriching real-world friendships remains under-utilized.
What was causing this disconnect?
3 major points were discovered
There was a general awkwardness in meeting new people.
There was resentment towards perceived motivations and interests of fellow students.
There was also a lack of common ground for conversations.
The world of online media curated to personal tastes thus seemed more enticing and easier to engage with.
Building the identified values into a service journey
A service can be defined as a repeatable sharing of resources or utility between the provider and the user(s), which the latter is willing to pay for. The utilitarian value generated through such sharing must be consumed immediately in real-time. A service must be designed to maximize the consumed experience for its users.
To understand the user, their personalities and interests must be found out. This helps build baselines to group users and plan activities. Suitable contexts for curated social experiences must be provided where the users can engage with others over their commonalities and initiate conversations. If done correctly, the user meets new people wth compatible personalities and bonds over shared interests developing social skills in the process.
But a hook was needed that would make people want to participate. Answer: Spontaneous Play!
A Hi5 can promote platonic bonding and camaraderie. Human touch releases oxytocin which improves mood, health and fosters a sense of attachment.
Most importantly it is good FUN!
Users would engage more if they had fun; passive users could become active players
1. Players must high five everyone who has a de-taali badge (they get one on signup)
2. They are encouraged to get innovative and share high-fives on social media
3. Players grouped together for a day get color-matched stickers for their badges.
4. They seek out those who share their colors to figure out what they have in common.
5. Groups are brought together in evenings for a group activity which is the big reveal!
It was time to put it all together
User journey maps, scenarios and blueprints were prepared, task were divided, and the team was ready to De Taali! (de-taali is the Hindi equivalent of a high five). The visual branding and digital promotions on social media were designed for a fun, quirky and peppy identity of the service. The stage was set to run the service live on the campus.
We started it, but it was our users who RAN with it!
1 week, countless groupings and 35 curated sessions later the feedback was overwhelming. We had to move on with our course-work so our service had to stop, despite our users asking for more. The service made a 400% return on investment in 7 days before it ended. But to me the real success is that the high-fives and the spontaneous conversations can be spotted to this day on the NID Campus.
To find out more about DeTaali and the many hats I wore while building it, get in touch with me at
Special shoutout to my DeTaali team: