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visual information24-Digi.jpg

Data Visualization Project

Designing an information sheet for newcomers: new international graduate students at the University of Alberta


1- New International students are bombarded with lots of data before or after arriving at a new university. They receive a huge amount of emails about initial settling, newcomer events, etc. However, they miss much information as they are not familiar with the new system and format of information sharing. Also, going through lots of new information that is heavily text-based is a really hard job for them.

2- Cultural transition is another major issue for newcomers which includes language problems, homesickness, pressures, anxiety and so on which hinder them to properly gather the information they need.


Project Goal

The goal of this project is to facilitate information gathering for the new students. The design outcome of this project increase and organize the flow of information and help them to have a pleasant experience with receiving information without missing any important information.

The aim is to inform, simplify and make a universal understandable order for the initial information of adjustment in Edmonton for international graduate newcomers.

Research Process 

1-Explore international students' problems, the policy of the international university to facilitate settlement, and review the University of Alberta strategies

2- Review literature related to newcomers, settling challenges, and information visualization

3- Empathize with the first-year graduate students through conducting sets of interviews. Interview with 10 students, an adviser, and an international center adviser at the University of Alberta

4- Ideate based on observations and data gathered from previous steps. The selected idea is an interactive PDF

5- Make a low-fidelity prototype to evaluate the best media and test it 

6- Gathering feedback from the target group about the designed information sheet

7- Redesign the information sheet which was an iterative process of improvement of the sheet


Conducting a qualitative method by using generative techniques which includes:

  • Sets of cards with open questions

  • interview based on card sorting activity

  • Storyboard​

The result of cards prioritized by 10 graduate students put together on one side and cards prioritized by advisor placed on the other side to compare how and where they are similar and different in the priority of information.

all data collected from the previous steps were organized with an affinity diagram.​​​​​


Seven main categories recognized for the most essential information:

Housing, Connections, Identification Cards, Finances, Transportation, Shopping and Weather​

Final Design

A comprehensive visual information sheet designed in two versions:

1- An interactive PDF with active links to needed website pages 

2- Printed version with links provided at the side

Published Design

The printed version used by the international center at the University of Alberta for newcomers in fall and winter

Also, the interactive PDF version distributed by some departments to new graduate student

Digital version: sent via emails with active links to relevant pages with more information

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Printed version: Information for New Graduate International Student University of Alberta

Welcoming event for the new graduate students, International center at the University of Alberta, winter 2018