by Zach Snyder


Problem: How do we get college students to be aware of the resources around them? 

Think back to your freshman year of college. How did you know about all the resources available on campus? Did you attend orientation and take copious notes? Or did you text upperclassmen to get their recommendations? Or maybe you decided you’d just Google the information you need, and scroll endlessly until you get there. If you are a senior, you may be wondering if you properly took advantage of the resources around you during your time in college, and that you “checked” your bucket list off. 

At a place like Harard, there is an overwhelming amount of resources – food, physical activities, school events, or wellness-related resources. In short, students are sometimes not aware of the resources available around them; from wellness benefits to cool events. For this exercise, we decided to specifically focus on one feature of the app, namely health and well-being. As such, we hope that our App can encourage students to leverage some of the incredible wellness resources available around them.

Our solution: Meet Jungle

Jungle is a personalized app that students can log into to discover the tremendous resources around them. Students create a unique profile and start with an “empty forest”. Once they begin to engage with the app, through well-ness related articles, booking, or sharing, they start to receive “characters” to construct their jungle. Characters include baby animals, trees, and small plants depending on what the user chooses. Users can also choose to share with their friends their virtual awards, and their forest progress.

From theory to practice: how Cialdini and Fogg’s concepts influenced our design? 

Our design leverages Cialdini’s principles of influence, specifically social proof and reciprocity. 

  • Social Proof: Social proof is defined as users doing what they think others are doing. Since the default is for jungles to be public, and people have the option to share the awards they receive. This concept plays a larger role when the group of people we observe are similar to us, which is the case among college undergraduates who somewhat share a similar age and life experience. At the heart of this design is a “network effect,” where the more people use the app, the more their friends will start using it.
  • Reciprocity: Users can gift others things they earned. For example, a user may gift a tree or a baby animal. If people start using the gifting feature, the receivers may start to feel obliged to gift back, and thus the idea of reciprocity can greatly increase usage of the app

Applying Fogg’s theories to Jungle

Fogg posits that three specific elements are needed for a new behavior to occur: motivation, ability and trigger. 

  • Motivation: Jungle’s interactive nature serves as a motivator for users to continue to revisit the app – as they learn more about resources around them and actually unitize these resources. Receiving a gift when one continues to explore the app is can be a source of pleasure, and the there is also a sense of hope that the user could discover new things that they were not aware of
  • Ability: Rather than reading pages of instructions about health benefits, students can now access these resources in a much easier way. Our design, compared to the alternatives that exist, vastly reduces the brain cycles needed. Scrolling through pages online can be a hectic brain activity, but navigating an a simple personalized app requires less brain power.
  • Trigger: our assumption was that most people want to leverage the resources around them (high motivation), but sometimes there can be cognitive hurdles along the way (low ability). In the case of high motivation and low ability, our app serves as a facilitator, simplifying the task of finding information regarding toe wellness resources, and even making bookings.

User profile: 

Undergraduate college students at Harvard tend to be busy. In theory, many students care about their well-being and healthcare, but in practice many students may not know about some of the resources around them, including free full exam check-ups, acupuncture, or 12 free therapy sessions, Our users can be best described as overworked and busy, and would only be looking for a resources that engages them and does not require additional mental load. 

Journey Map

Annabelle Paterson, Nourhan Shaaban, Zach Snyder

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Tobias Haefele March 2, 2020 - 3:14 pm

Loving the music and the way the presentation brings together the themes and the names.
I would have loved to hear more about how this is different from “whatsonBoston”, FAcebook events or other “activity integrators”?
I liked the social integration and friends being able to see “others jungle” – what was your rationale to going via characters and avatars rather than friends etc.?

Overall, great usage of the metaphor – very fresh take on a pretty “dated” concept.

Vivian Zhou March 2, 2020 - 3:53 pm

I think the idea of having one centralized platform for all information about resources events is really valuable and needed! On top of that, you guys have made this platform really cute and fun to use, motivating students to actively check the app and stay engaged. I especially appreciate that you’ve categorized all the resources into different buckets, because this can help students sift through the many resources and events available and target the ones relevant to themselves. One additional feature I think would add a lot is some sort of calendar integration — often the biggest constraint (after exposure and awareness) is time, so being able to see how an event fits into someone’s schedule would be valuable in determining whether to attend.

Emily Koch March 2, 2020 - 5:55 pm

You guys did a great job with this app, I would love for it to exist as my inbox is always over-cluttered with events and exciting things I automatically read as spam. I really enjoy your approach as it takes a childish and fun direction. I would maybe suggest making the interface slightly more sophisticated to increase one’s motivation to use Jungle. Other than that, I am a major fan!

Wendy Yu March 2, 2020 - 6:49 pm

First of all, great job in making this a really engaging, fun experience! Since Harvard at least claims that it wants its students to be more engaged with its resources and opportunities, it could be a cool incentive if, after reaching a given stage, you could present your progress to some office at Harvard and be awarded an actual prize in return as further incentive (e.g. free ticket to a Harvard event, free massage session at the Health Center, etc.).

YUNING ZHANG March 2, 2020 - 8:23 pm

The jungle concept is amazing! I’m so glad that you find a way to build an interactive relationship between the digital interface and the reality – not merging the two and making VR design, which is also great but less efficient in this context. The idea of using jungle animals as characters definitely triggers users’ awareness and motivates them to reach out for those opportunities. In the future, one thing to be improved might be the information structure, like “build an information hierarchy “, or “make more personalized recommendations on opportunities”.

Malila Freeman March 2, 2020 - 10:40 pm

I think this idea is so clever and many universities would benefit a lot from implementing it in real life. One additional feature that I thought could be useful is to incorporate an email component as part of this app. All university organizations could submit their events and announcements to the app and then it could send out one email containing all of the information for the day in ONE EMAIL instead of students receiving dozens and dozens of emails every single day. I know that a large part of the reason that I don’t engage with as many university activities as I would like to is because I get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of emails and announcements I get about them, so reducing this pain point and condensing it into one streamlined message using the principles you’ve already established in your app could be really useful.

Lucy Golub March 3, 2020 - 2:48 am

This app would help me so much in figuring out how best to take advantage of Harvard’s resources. Like you mention, there are so many different things that are offered that I don’t even know about, so I don’t use them. Even if I were combining the hundreds of emails we get each week with the calendar with random Facebook events, I wouldn’t have a clear idea of what’s going on all the time. This app would really help. You’ve also done a great job employing the idea of social proof, making jungle not just about what you’re doing but also your friends.

Eleanor Blum March 3, 2020 - 4:51 am

I thought this was a fantastic product in that both the user experience is so pleasant and engaging that I would look forward to being on it, and that it is incorporative of network effects and social proof, it would be a fun way to bridge activities with interpersonal connections. I would only suggest more integration with other forms of communication so that I could engage with others in ways that are incorporative of my existing routines in addition to on the platform.

TJ Song March 4, 2020 - 5:20 am

This is totally something that I would want/need – and somewhat reminds me of the Harvard Shoestring Strategies app which focuses on activities for cheap around Harvard. I do agree that a generalist app of resources would be so appreciated and used by all Harvard students. It would avoid so many moments where I’ve said, “If I would have known, I would have taken advantage of that so much sooner.”

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