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Pioneers for social workplace

For this startup work, I collaborated with team members with strong professional background. Throughout the project, we worked together, undergoing RESEARCH, AFFINITIZATION, IDEATION, PROTOTYPE TESTING, DESIGN SYSTEM, INTERFACE STYLE GUIDE and USABILITY TESTING, leading to the creation of our final deliverables. These deliverables were focused on providing VALUES, NAVIGATE CREDIT, and helping users ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS.

Project Overview

Whether it is college students who are about to graduate or young people who are just entering the workplace, network resources are crucial to their career development. Netup is an effective mobile application for in-person networking which addresses the problem of building professional networking in the North American workplace. 


Mobile Application


09 2023- 02 2024




2 Backend Developers, 2 Machine Learning Specialists, 2 Front End Developer, 1 Designer, 2 Marketing/ Business Specialists

Task given 
Develop an advanced professional training application that harnesses the potential of immersive technologies and 5G to deliver a more cost effective, engaging, and richer learning experience in scenarios where access to the real physical environment or scenarios are difficult, expensive or dangerous.


Professional Training

My Team

Lauren Liao (Full Stack Developer) 

Yilia Liu (Videographer)

Zhengyang Yang (UX Designer & XR Developer)

My Role

UX Researcher

UIUX Designer

Product Manager



Challenges Today

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Poor job market economy: Large factories are laying off workers, and job hunting entering difficult mode

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No connections: International students lack effective ways to socialize in the workplace and blindly submit hundreds or thousands of resumes overseas

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No direction: people want to change jobs or step out of their comfort zone, but doesn't  know where to go.


Personalized customization/AI algorithm recommendation, recommending the connections that the user is most likely to be interested in based on their profile

Authenticity guarantee, verify user authenticity through school/work email domain name to ensure high user quality


Encourage/provide offline professional social networking functions, recommend nearby people for users and provide offline coffee/dining appointments. Simplify the process and increase conversion rate.


Encourage same-level networking (such as programmers of the same level in different companies) to allow professional networking to break through company barriers and obtain information from different companies in the industry.


Recommendations are updated daily to make professional social networking a daily habit for users. Make professional networking a pleasure/entertainment.

What I did

• Generating research plans, leading research and testing sessions
• Analysing all generative and evaluative research
• Creating visual language, branding and design principles 
• Creating flows, wireframes and interface design
• Communicating and collaborating with PM, developers, product owner and different stakeholders

The Approach


Secondary Research 
Survey with 56 respondents
User Interviews: 7 people




Step 1: 

To understand why is it hard to create meaningful and sustained professional relationships with online networking

In the research phase an inception activity was conducted by our team focusing on exploration of the problem space. The main goal was to understand people’s mindset and what challenges are they facing when networking with others in a digital age. 

We conducted generative research, including stakeholder and user interviews, survey, literature review and persona development.



what we already know vs what we need to know 

what we already know vs what we need to know 

Insight one 

It's hard to create meaningful and sustained professional relationships with people you meet through online networking sites like LinkedIn.

  1. Information Overload Creates Confusion: Users are overwhelmed by the volume of information presented on the platform, leading to confusion and difficulty in navigating through the content. This suggests a need for better information organization, streamlined user interfaces, and perhaps customizable content filters to help users manage the overwhelming amount of data.

  2. Low Conversion Rate for Social Interaction: Despite the platform's intentions to facilitate social connections, the conversion rate for effective social interactions is notably low. This could indicate issues with the platform's messaging features, friend request mechanisms, or overall user engagement strategies. Improving features that encourage meaningful interactions and fostering a sense of community may be necessary to address this issue.

  3. Challenges in Relationship Maintenance: Users experience difficulty in maintaining relationships through the platform. This could be attributed to various factors such as inadequate communication tools, lack of privacy controls, or an absence of features that support ongoing engagement between users. Enhancing features for communication, relationship management, and privacy settings could potentially mitigate this challenge and encourage sustained user engagement.

4.  Barriers to Industry/Company Engagement: The presence of industry or company barriers suggests that certain users may encounter obstacles related to accessing or engaging with specific content or networks. To mitigate this, the platform could prioritize inclusivity and diversity in content representation, offer resources for networking within niche industries, or provide tailored recommendations based on user preferences and career interests. By breaking down barriers to engagement, the platform can create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all users.

Who are we designing for 

North American international students/young people entering the workplace. International students in North America generally do not have local network resources. In an environment where professional networking is emphasized in North America, in order to obtain opportunities to work and be promoted in North America, international students have become the only choice to broaden their network through professional networking. However, the services provided by professional social networking software such as LinkedIn cannot meet the expectations of international students because LinkedIn has problems such as low conversion rate, shallow network depth, and difficulty in obtaining in-depth professional networking. Through our survey of hundreds of North American international students or workers between the ages of 20 and 30, we found that more than two-thirds of the respondents have the habit of constantly expanding their network of contacts and actively engaging in professional networking at least once a month. Among them, more than 60% of users said they prefer offline professional networking to online professional networking, and our survey found that the conversion rate of offline meetings obtained through LinkedIn social networking was less than 10%. This proves the existence of demand and the gap between the functions of existing products. It is also the demand pain point that Gugu is committed to solving.



Chinese college students. Some more ambitious Chinese college students and people who have just started working will also need to expand their network of contacts for further career development. However, the user experience of domestic workplace social software such as Maimai is not ideal, with problems such as too much spam and doubts about the authenticity of personnel. In addition, the workplace social culture in China is not as mature as in North America, but it is slowly rising. We feel that the vast domestic professional social market gives us the space and opportunity to use the Gugu app to guide domestic young people to engage in professional social networking, and even promote the development of domestic professional social culture.

The Approach


How might we 
Product Vision

Use cases

User journey



How can we help new grads & working professionals overcome these barriers and create a more genuine and effective in-person networking experience with the help of information technology?

MVP vision of the product

There are three business models that the team currently prefers. The specific selection is based on the user data after the product is launched.


C-end user subscription system, charging users a monthly/annual subscription fee.


Develop the enterprise/restaurant version, cooperate with B-end enterprises, support restaurants/coffee shops/companies to organize professional activities on the platform, including career dinners, exchange meetings, lectures, etc., and make profits through B-end enterprises.


The trading platform charges platform fees. Users will be asked to fill in their purpose when registering. If the user data shows that the user’s demand for upward socialization is much higher than that of the same level of socialization, you can emphasize the platform’s function of “finding professional seniors” and allow newcomers to provide financial rewards to the elderly (such as encouraging newcomers to actively pay for meals, or through the platform Transfer money to the elderly) for valuable career advice.

Use cases 

Scenario 1 

Scenario 2

The Approach




Design principles

Competitve analysis 


Design System 

Final Designs 


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