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The ORBIT Project

UX/UI Design- Design Consulting - UX Research 

The ORBIT Project -  Online Resource for Building Intercultural Teams

 Kelly M. Murdoch-Kitt (University of Michigan) and Denielle J. Emans (Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar)

Team: Shrinali Patel, Mackenzie Cole, Lena Stein, Edgar Chung, Michelle Zhang, Morgan Salvano & Gabriella Pascual

Jan 2019 - June 2019 (5.5 months)

*Take a look at my full Project Report or Slide Set - where I provide more detail and depth to the ORBIT Project

Project Overview

The ORBIT Project is a collaborative bipartite effort to combat the lack of resources available to support faculty in initiating international partnerships. The project comprises a book (Orbit: Designing Intercultural Collaborations; manuscript in progress) and companion web tool: Online Resource for Building Intercultural Teams (ORBIT). I was involved specifically in the web tool portion of the project. The tool aims to bridge the gap by enabling faculty to learn about and share the products of their virtual collaborations with a wider audience. Those who have experience with cross-cultural collaborations, as well as those who have interest but no prior experience, will benefit from the opportunity to connect with faculty across cultures and disciplines.

Problem Statement

+  Design a system that can be understood across multiple international regions and have little to no limitations for         users between multiple cultures.

+  Utilize design cues and visual elements to produce a functional and efficient product.

+  Design a system that limit the presence of biases by users within their product experience.


Stakeholder Research

Whiteboard Mapping

Literature Review Takeaways

Color + Type


Usability Test

Mock Ups

Scenarios + User Flows


Final Screens

Site Maps

Mood Board

ORBIT. Understand

Understand + Research

Our team conducted extensive competitive analysis on similar products who also catered to multiple cultures and studied specialized design within more popular cultures such as American, Spanish, British, Arabic and Chinese. This not only helped in gaining a better understanding of what was required but also gave us an insight to which design decisions were working and which were not. I contributed heavily in this initial research portion by drawing significant points and conclusions to later benefit from in designing the product. I researched the web to find similar sites or tools as well as annotated scholarly articles regarding universal and inclusive design. (More can be found in the full report)

Stakeholder Engagement

 Utilizing stakeholder engagement is a key initial approach to building an experiential and interactive interface for its ability to reveal the working and failed ideas from the start. The ORBIT research team had started their research phase quite some time before reaching out to us. Through this time, they compiled a large portion of the needs based interviews and primary research. We used their information to refine and prioritze the more significant aspects. The most meaningful stakeholder engagement methods we derived insight from was through survey data, interview transcripts and

card-sorting documentation. (below)

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Whiteboard Mapping

Our next steps include iterations of white-board mapping. We used this exercise to find solutions on how to construct and lay out the site map. We discussed and debated the inclusion of what pages should be included on the navigation bar of the home page, what functions the tool should include and what remaining issues we had to solve. Within this process, as well as throughout the rest of the project, I focussed on the profile aspect and search function.

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Literature Review Takeaways

International Variabilities


  • Red = False, Grey = False

  • Red= Wrong, Incorrect, Error

  • World clock → Time transparency 

  • Design component feedback - visual + audible

Intercultural Education + Implicit Bias

  • Prevent Profiling Bias through image, name etc.

  • Intercultural education resources may not read to full capacity to everyone 

  • Base authenticity and validation through site facilitated bias training and fact checking


  • Utilize online color blindness tool & black and white print prototyping test

  • Select color scheme that holds contrast with all color limitations

  • Functional on multiple platforms (future goal)

Universal Layout + Imagery

  • Standard function/element location i.e. Search, Navigation, Footer, Help 

  • Iconography and Symbolism understandable across cultures

  • Provide easy revert/escape methods and ample feedback after interactions

ORBIT. Sketch

Sketch + Discover


Using our research and ideation behind what functions and experiences we found most important to include in the tool, we created a total of 4 personas. I focused on Jamie Peña.

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User Scenarios + Flows

For each persona, we constructed a supplemental scenario and user flow. This helps us outline the multiple use cases that can be present when using ORBIT and how the feature of the app connect and how they may specialize towards one use case. Once again, I focused on Jaime, specifically the profile and search function. 


Jaime Peña

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1. Logs into ORBIT using university webtool.


2. Types “International Business” in search tool. This gives Jaime an large number of responses and he is  prompted to use keywords to narrow his search. With the “filter by” tool he selects collaborators with experience in “negotiations” and “research.” 


3. Jaime browses profiles matched with his search.


4. Clicks on a profile. Jaime reads a profile he is interested in and decides he would like to learn more about them. He clicks “Ask to Collaborate” and grants them access to his profile. 

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Site Maps

Using the loads of stakeholder engagement research from the ORBIT Research Team plus our persona/user flow development, we mocked up a site map setting up the foundations of the site. This allows us to see how multiple functions and features connect.

Anchor 1

*Areas where I focused on

Mood Board

Keeping in mind of the various researched cultural connotations and color associations, we created a mood board to set a theme and aesthetic to follow before moving into designing. 

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Design + Deliver

Color + Type

Knowing that our target audience is middle-aged educators or institutional faculty members around the world, we wanted to keep the color scheme simple and friendly. We chose blue and green as our primary colors since they provide both inviting and professional energy across most cultures. As for the typeface, we chose Noto Sans due to its modern curvature, scalable readability and most importantly it's ability to maintain the same visual neatness throughout multiple languages. 

Color Palette:

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Orbit. Deliver


Simplified Chinese

Traditional Chinese



Mock Ups

To start off, I made some quick low-fi mock ups of the "Create Profile" screens that we then processed and refined into more medium-fidelity mock ups


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Final Screens

Test + Evaluate

Usability Test

ORBIT. Evaluate

We conducted a total of 5 user tests and follow-up interviews on the Desktop version of the ORBIT prototype. We interviewed individuals that had experience using collaborative tools and familiarity with educational resources. 

The user testing plan is broken down into six sections - Login, Search, Create Project, View Own Project, View Notification, and Message - that touch on specific points with the interface. We hoped to gather insight into whether the design cues such as color, iconography and language are understandable across contrasting demographics. Throughout this project, I focussed primarily on the profile and search function of the tool.  


  • Stakeholder team

    • Received implementable feedback from a different perspective

    • Learned to design to cater towards existing research

    • Real-world client experience

  • Working through bias

    • Research is important in understanding how to mitigate bias

    • We cannot enforce bias training upon users

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