Plan Course Schedule with Friends!

Try Penn Course Plan Here↗

Penn Course Plan(PCP) provides Insightful metrics and course planning tools for Penn students. I prototyped and designed the first social feature of PCP: Course Plan Share. Based on the belief that learning should be socialized, this new feature allows Penn students to share their course plans with friends in registration period.

My Role

Product Designer

Team Member

Andy Jiang (Frontend)
Ansh Nagwekar (Backend)
Charlie Cunning (Backend)
Kepler Boonstra (Business Development)


3 Months(On going)(2022.4~2022.7)


Will be launched in the following semester

Background: How to make course planning experience better?

Current Penn Course Plan:
A Great Tool for Checking Course Reviews & Creating Mock Schedules

"Besides helping students choosing the right courses, how about helping them choose the right people to go with these courses?"

By the time I joined Penn Courses Team, Penn Course Plan has already been a successful and widely accepted tool for Penn students to plan course schedules. Metrics like course quality, major requirements and difficulty have been proven useful to meet major needs in course planning. At this point, we started to wonder: what else would be important for college students when they are planning the coursework?

During a PennLabs meeting, one of Penn Courses team member, Charlie, suggested that he observed many students share schedules with their friends during registration period, and we could design a feature to help students share course schedule with each other.

Quick Interviews: "I learn better with my friends."


We did a quick interviews with PennLabs members, and everyone was very excited about this "Share Course Schedule" feature: it is important to take the right courses, and it is also important to take the right courses with right people. Especially for some courses requiring substantial group works, academic success is directly connected with the social capital.

Why would Penn students need the "Share Course Schedule" feature?

For Academic Success

"In EDUC552, there are a lot of group assignments. I want to take the course with people I know to secure my grades."

For Peer Support

"I know I would need a lot of peer support for CIS160. I want to take the same session with my friends."

Team Members

It is a good way to get users help us spread the word about our product!

Not only our user could benefit from this feature, our product could also benefit from it: the social feature gets the users to send out invites and introduce their friends to our platform.

Following the quick interviews and a quick technical review with our front-end/back-end engineers, we made a quick decision: let's make it happen!

Design Development

Consideration.1 :
New Feature on a Mature Product = Needs to be Non-intrusive user experience

Penn Course Plan has already been widely accepted, which means this new feature should be integrated into the existing system smoothly. To achieve this goal, I mapped out the current user flow and add new pathways upon the current version.

Add Upon Previous Interfaces

What's the best place to incorporate the "Share Course Schedule"? In current user flow, users create/delete/choose mock schedules under from the schedule list. So, adding a "share this schedule" button next to each mock schedule would be the least intrusive and most intuitive solution.

Choose Schedule

Choose & Share Schedule

* Only one "share" icon will be activated.

Consideration.2 :
Accessibility Considerations: Colorful Interface

Labeling different courses and different people will be inevitably colorful. Picking suitable colors is important for accessibility. I use Coloring for Colorblindness to make sure the colors are colorblind-friendly.

Choices of Colors

Later in the user testing phase, it would be helpful to get user feedback from people with different types of color blindness. The blue and purple might still be too similar for some users.

True colors are the chosen colors. The other three columns represent how protanopia, deuteranopia, or tritanopia would see these colors.

Edge Cases

What if a social king/queen gets a super long list of friends? The "Share With" list would get crazy long, causing display problems.

Have a lot of friends?

A simple "more" option could help resolve this situation. Moreover, in future versions, we could allow the user to reorder the friends list so that s/he can choose the top five friends to display in the main "Share With" list.


Home Page : A clear overview of who is taking this class

Now with the new home page, the user could quickly see who are planning to take the chosen course, and which session they are planning to take.

Key Features

Flow 1 : Add Friends / Approve Requests / Delete a Friend

Flow 2 :
Set Shared Schedule & See Friends' Schedules


Current Stage

This is still an ongoing project. The design solution has passed technical review and Penn Courses Team developers will start implementing and testing the solution starting this semester(2022 Fall). This new feature will be officially launched in the following semester(2023 Spring).

Future Challenges

This is still an ongoing project. The design solution has passed technical review and Penn Courses Team developers will start implementing and testing the solution starting this semester(2022 Fall). This new feature will be officially launched in the following semester(2023 Spring).

What I Learn

Designing for better user experience could also mean designing for bigger business impact

Designing for business impact and designing for better user experience could lead to very different solutions, but it doesn't mean that we cannot have both at the same time. From this project, I am more certain that starting from a user-centered approach with a business acumen is helpful to deliver a solution that serve the users and the business at the same time.