Culture Club

A social platform for sharing stories through structured prompts

Project Summary


Interaction Design

Visual Design


Design Concepts

Concept Video


20 Weeks


Generative and Evaluative Research

Interaction Flow and Design

Low to High Fidelity Prototypes

Concept Video

Presentation & Pitch



How might we help Third Culture Kids share their experiences so they feel less isolated when returning to the U.S. for college? 

What is a TCK?

Third Culture Kids (TCKs) are individuals who have spent their formative years in a culture that is different than that of their parents.

Our project looks at American TCKs who grew up abroad - common examples are diplomat kids, military kids, missionary kids, or expat kids who move frequently due to their parents’ jobs.

Here is a brief video that explains our product

The three key concepts of Culture Club are

Students can respond to fill-in-the-blank prompts and attach a longer story or a photo


Stories in the feed are curated based on their current location as well as cities that they’ve lived in before


If the user is interested in meeting up with other people like them, the app will show other local TCKs that they can connect to



We collected data using social media, forums like reddit, and international school channels, and got responses from 69 respondents that fit our criteria. This data helped us see trends emerge even from a huge variety of TCK experience that spanned across 54 different countries.

Semi-Structured Interviews

We spoke with 9 different TCKs from across the globe about their experiences. Along with a semi-structured interview in a question and answer format, we also used a storytelling activity to uncover specific stories.

Secondary Research/Expert Interviews

This data us focus in on the key pain points. This is when we narrowed down the repatriation process of college aged students as one of the most difficult periods in a TCK’s life.


Using our data, we created themes and insights, which then became design principles. Here are a few examples

Design Principles

Help TCKs recognize and preserve meaningful relationships as a source of consistent support.

Provide a foundation for self-reflective practices, keeping in mind that self-reflection can be difficult during early adulthood.

Our solution should leverage the advantageous aspects of being a TCK.

We go into detail about our research in our research report.


Created concepts using ideation workshops with other designers, used activities like pass the buck and crazy eights, and committed lots of ideas to paper.

We filtered out concepts that did not work with our design principles, and sorted the remaining concepts into themes. Of these concepts, we were interested in pursuing:

A Focused TCK Community

TCKs often feel alienated in college. While they don’t have trouble making friends any more than other students, they can feel like they don’t have a core set of people who understand their upbringing. As a result, we wanted to create a community that would cater to their experiences and their backgrounds.

User Input/Interaction

We had several concepts that included data viz, or other types of passive consumption. We wanted our users to feel engaged in a community, and as a result we decided to pursue concepts that help TCKs dynamically share their own stories.

Potential Ideas

The storyboarded and mapped out four potential products that work with these two concepts:


A device that tracks emotions through the day using emerging technologies from MIT. This data would pair with a mobile app to view and share experiences with other TCKs.


Create several hotspots near or on their college campuses that prompt TCKs to share their stories and interact with other stories that have been “left."


Letting students opt-in to a mentorship program where incoming TCK students are paired with older TCK students.

Nomadic Learning

A program that rotates a cohort of TCKS through four U.S. colleges for the first two years of education

Storyboard and Refinement

We ultimately took the reflective aspect of the hotspot storytelling concept and the idea of learning from other TCKs into one concept— a mobile app where TCKs can share their unique experiences and connect over similarities.
Feature Value Matrix

We created a few different flows for this on paper. How often would we prompt users? What would that look like? What type of notifications should they receive, if any? And realized that we had too many features that we were trying to incorporate. To prioritize and keep our product a little more targeted, we used a feature value matrix to scored features by assigning values of -1 to 3. Each feature was evaluated for how well it supported our design principles.

Following the individual assessment, we aggregated the scores to identify “must-have” features for our product:

  • Daily prompts

  • Feed of shared stories

  • User matching

  • Interaction with stories

  • Prompt response trends

  • Sign up with facebook


We then tested our concept with TCK participants, focusing on these features.

Paper Prototypes

First we wanted to test the concept and the basic flow with users. To do this quickly and efficiently, we used paper prototypes.

Clickable Prototype

After making some changes to our concept and refining some of the interactions, we create clickable wireframes to get slightly higher fidelity. The goal here was to get feedback on much of the usability.

Clickable Prototype Results
  • Current social media is annoying, content is not meaningful
  • Sign-in-with-Facebook is appropriate, but with transparenc
  • Need for more informative iconography and descriptive language
  • Unclear what happens after you share a story
  • “Matching” feature is confusing
  • Provide meaningful content and limited notifications
  • Be clear what info. is being pulled during onboarding
  • Develop an icon system, and include labels when necessary
  • Take advantage of motion design to guide the user
  • Rethink this feature, and how location may come into play

Final Concept

A mobile app that connects college-aged TKCs by allowing them to share stories in response to daily prompts specific to TCK experiences.

How is this different from other social media?
Structured Posting

Fill-in-the-blank style prompts give users a place to reflect on their own experiences and makes user generated content consistent. Prompts span from lighthearted to more serious.

Meeting Up Locally

Additionally, users can opt-in to meet other TCKs in their current city. Many students we spoke to felt like they were the only TCKs on their campus, but often times they are not alone.

We wanted to create a space where a visible community could grow.

Here’s a 10 minute presentation of our work that summarizes this process.


Flexibility and Adaptation

Don’t be afraid to try new research methods. We ended up adding a storytelling activity to our semistructured interviews after piloting it to get better data for our research. We realized that being open ended, and being flexible enough to recognize when we needed to switch up our process created much better results.

Work Outside Your Loop

Understanding your users and empathizing their their needs is a huge component of design, especially for emotionally sensitive products like these. But getting feedback from people and teams that were not as steeped inside the data is always useful. Their outside perspective helped us push the boundaries on how we thought about our product and influenced our end result.