Interactive timeline for better eMentoring process

This is the internship that I did at Elsevier. Elsevier wants to enhance mentor-student relationship through MendeleyGroup. To reach this goal, I designed an interactive timeline for visualising student’s research process on Mendeley website.

Deliverables: advertising video, demo video, master thesis, commercial thesis

Feb.2017 - Sep.2017

Amsterdam, Netherland

My role:

User research

Customer journey map



Usability testing

Personas and the design challenge

Mendeley wants to encourage mentors and students share and connect with each other through MendeleyGroup. My goal is to enhance the mentor student communication in the eMentoring process.

I interviewed six professors and six students at the University of Twente

  1. Mentors have problem in tracking student's research progress and lacking the overview status of a group of students.
  2. Students have the problem in losing important deadlines, reporting their status to their mentors.

The detailed summary can be found here.

Solution: Research Line

To solve this problem, I designed Research Line to

  • Visualise the research progress
  • Share the research progress
  • Track the research progress

Design process

1. Ideation and the design options

I came up with three design options: the Linear, the Circular and the Network.

Design option 1

Design option 2

Design option 3


From Mendeley home page, students can choose to:

  1. Create a new research line
  2. Open an existing research line
  3. Open group library

Mentors can choose to

  1. Open a student's research line
  2. Open group library
  3. Send meeting request


I developed the clickable prototypes with Sketch and FramerJS.

Create a new Research Line

How can users create their first research line

Try the prototype online.

Update an existing Research Line

How can users update their current research project

Try the prototype online

Open a student's Research Line

How can professor open his student's research progress

Try the prototype online

The full scenario can be seen here.

Qualitative user testing results

I tested the prototypes with mentors and students at the University of Twente. Users conducted specific tasks and user interviews. The findings can be summarized:

  1. The linear design option is the most popular one.

  2. Mentors hope to see both full picture and action points of student’s research progress.
  3. Students value the deadlines and the project plan.

  4. Authority of the research line needs to be carefully considered.
  5. Privacy issue is important for everyone.
  6. Connecting with other platforms are important.

Design iterations

Three design iterations were conducted.

  1. Only history record
  2. History record and deadline
  3. One single deadline

Overall learning

  1. Rapid iterations are better than one-time perfection.
  2. Listenning to the users without bias.
  3. Always prepare three options.
  4. Intime reporting is important.
  5. Users' habits are affected by many factors, culture, their growing environment and etc.