New in Town — A UX Case Study

Helping young adults thrive in their new communities

Project Overview


As young adults graduate from college or move to take advantage of new opportunities, they oftentimes have difficulty developing a new support system and community from scratch. Consequently, having a lack of support networks tends to contribute to depression and social isolation.


We designed an app that acts as a directory of all the different social events and locations (e.g. restaurants, cafes, recreational places) each city has. Users can search for new areas to visit, see what locals in their area recommend, and bookmark places to view later.

Our Team

Project Timeline

Our timeline for the five-week sprint process.

User Research

We wanted to discover the main challenges that recent graduates face after college, and concluded that user interviews would be the most effective way to gather in-depth data. We conducted 8 user interviews with post graduates who were between the ages of 21–25.

Our main findings include:

  • New grad life can be anxiety-inducing and stressful
  • New grads appreciated social and career-related support systems
  • New grads wished they had (1) small close-knit groups with people of similar interests, careers, or backgrounds and (2) more resources about financial responsibility (e.g. taxes, stocks, loans, etc.)
Our affinity map and synthesis of our user research data.

Synthesis & Ideation

Using the synthesized research data, we started brainstorming “how might we” statements to help narrow down our focus to effectively address our user pain points.

Pencil and digital sketches of possible app features we created to address each of the 4 user pain points.
User flow for the onboarding process.
Redesigned sketches focusing on user needs for his/her new city.

Mid-Fidelity Prototypes

With our new solution in mind, we primarily wanted to incorporate the following into this app:

  • Create levels for different types of users: Observer (newcomer in town), Adventurer (middle), Local (end goal — very familiar with the city)
  • Based on a quiz surveying the user’s needs, dining places/social events/places to socialize would pop up on the user’s feed
  • Allow users to leave reviews of each area you visit so newcomers can read and learn more
  • Create a feed where locals can post secret, lesser known areas for newcomers
  • Allow users to bookmark places for later
Primary screens and functions of our app.

The Final Prototypes

For our final product, we were able to implement five different features into the “New In Town” app: an onboarding questionnaire, home page, search by category, search by typing, and bookmarking.

1. Onboarding

When the user lands on the app, they will be asked to provide some personal information about themselves and reveal the new town the user moved to. This will allow the app to categorize the user as an Explorer (i.e., newcomer to town) or a Local (very familiar with town). Then, the user will rank certain locations/categories based on personal preferences.

Onboarding: signing up and creating an account.

2. Home Page

After the onboarding process, the user is taken to the Home Page. The available features include the search bar, search by category, “Suggested for You,” “Suggested by Locals,” and user-selected categories (e.g. “Restaurants & Cafes”). This customized page allows users to explore new places and familiarize themselves with the area.

Search by category

3. Searching

Explorers are unfamiliar with the city they’ve just moved to, so search bars allow them to discover new places. To help familiarize them with the area, they can:

  1. Search by category, which is useful if they’re very unfamiliar with the area (shown on the left)
  2. Search by typing, which is useful if they have a specific type of location in mind

4. Bookmarking

To help users remember where they want to explore, they can:

  1. Bookmark a place or event and save it for later
  2. Categorize bookmarks based on user preferences



From this project, we learned the importance of narrowing down and synthesizing diverse research findings, specifically to work towards solving a single problem, rather than all of our user’s pain points. Especially with a limited time constraint, an inadequate or inefficient synthesis could lead to greater problems down the road as we experienced ourselves. This project only reinforced that design is a constant, iterative process.

If given more time, we would love to:

  1. Conduct usability testing to adjust app features to fulfill user needs
  2. Further develop current features (e.g. being able to add and filter posts on the Suggested by Locals page)



We’re a student-run design consultancy @ UC Davis!

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