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Smart Agent

A service design helping people to achieve an autonomous transition between cultures.

Smart Agent: Cultural Transition Service Design

Service Design, UI/UX Design       

It is a team project conducted in Experience Design Studio, under the mentorship of our amazing experience designer Prof. Miso Kim. This project aims to design a service to help people who have problems with relocation to a new city. As international students, we chose to design a "smart agent" for cultural transited people to get through mental and physical conflicts between different cultures.



Jan 2017- Apr 2017



Liuhuaying Yang

Angie Liu

Janice Zhang




Team Co-lead

UX Designer

Visual Designer

Individual UI Designer




Affinity Diagramming

Persona Study

Journey Mapping


Experience Mapping

Blue Print Mapping








Pens / Paper  



When people relocate themselves to another country, they usually experience some cultural shocks and feelings such as confusion, anxiety, homesickness, and anger. They need a service to get through the conflicts between their home culture and the new culture.


- CHALLENGE & process-

A Service Design Process + Possible UI Design

Relocation is an action, but the transition process could be a long time. To achieve a customer-centric and co-creative service design, the project followed a standard service design process. It consists of five general phases that were approached with a myriad of methods:









Persona development ,


Current journey maps, Stakeholder maps,


Service concept,

Area of opportunity


Customer journey map,

Hero journey map,

Area of opportunity



Service blueprint,

Mockup movie



Lo-fi prototypes,

Visual design,

Hi-fi prototype



- research -

One-on-One Interview

At first, we designed the interview based on brainstorming. The outline of the interview is mainly about the interviewees’ background, benefit, motivation, customer daily life, and their physical and mental environment.

Below is a part of the interview, mainly focused on customer daily frustrations through time:

- discovery -

A Dynamic Transition Path

After the interviews, we found that the cultural transition is not a static problem. Although most people find their hardest time is the beginning, many interviewees mentioned their painful experience appeared when they get more familiar with the new culture. It has been changing or developing over time.​​


Here is the diagram of the time-based stages of the cultural transition: 


Based on the three stages we found, we brainstormed several relocation scenarios from the fright landing to three months later. And then we grouped some pain points, touch points we got from the interviews and pasted them into the timeline. We found that the first week is the time people concern their schedule most, then they begin to be excited about the new city. But one-month later when they begin to explore the city, they start to realize the real cultural barriers.  This is the start of other frustrating.



Stage-based Transition Journey 

To find out the touch points that our service could help the people have the transition problem, I made three journey maps based on the stages: from settling down to a new city, to getting familiar with the new daily routine like study or work, and finally to having the courage to explore the new city in different culture: 



- invention -

Ideation: An Education Simulation Service

We designed an Education Simulation Service which focuses on user’s emotion change and autonomy maintain during the cultural transition by:

  • a virtual friend/partner/pet’s emotional support

  • providing personalized information and resources

  • daily-life arrangement


- synthesis -

How Does the User Autonomy Change Through Time?

In order to maintain user's autonomy through time, I created this hero journey map, synthesized the user actions and the flow of emotions along with the service. This narrative pattern of a cultural transition may vary a little bit to different users, but the valuable part of this hero journey is that it could help our service always keep the user-centered mind.

Yuki's Culture Transition Story with the Smart Agent

Based on the hero journey map, I created storyboards for a relocated girl to illustrate the possible interaction scenario. By presenting these concept storyboards to our professor and peers, we got quick feedbacks on our design and more possibles areas our service could contribute to. As service design is for a long-term and multi-touch points user journey, I found storyboard is an efficient way to introduce and explain details about the service design. (P.S. I found people crazy about the panda in the storyboard, so I put forward the idea to my individual UI design after the class ; )





Stage 0: Sign in Smart Agent and prepare for the relocation:

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Stage 1: Start a new daily routine, get familiar with the new culture:

Hero journey
Yuki's story
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Stage 2: Start to explore a new life and social engagements in the new place:

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Stage 3: Broader exploration of the new culture, and share the experience with other relocators:

- delivery -

A Data-driven Service Blue Print

The service is a data-driven service. It learns itself through interactions with the user and thus matches more personalized needs. All the information/data will be restored in the cloud, the more users use the service, the more personalized routine schedule and new cultural advice could be provided.  Diagram credits to Liuhuaying Yang. You can click to get a larger view!

Blue print


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At the beginning of joining, users pick their virtual friend and set up the relocated city. Then set the primary dates, such as moving day, work/school start day, etc.

Users can get sharing information and coupons from other friends.

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1 ) sign up 

2 ) set primary dates

3 ) sync with friends

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Daily-life Schedule

Daily-life Schedule generated automatically

by the Cloud, based on users' primary dates

and relocated city they chose.

Arrange Life with Autonomy

Users can check the detailed tasks in the new city every day.

It helps reduce users’ fear of uncertainty.

To keep autonomy, users can add their own schedule into the tasks calendar.

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Emotional support

Besides daily suggestions, the virtual friend also provides emotional support to users in such lonely city, and encourage users to explore the city.

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Background color changes through the cultural transition of relocation.

It shows the users’ personal development through time.

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Information & Resources

Personalized information and resources

provided by service cloud, community,

and synced friends. Encourage users to

explore the new city and culture.

Previous: Redesign Hubway

Storytelling UI + UX Design

Next: Mapping the Urban Timesheet

Interaction Design + Data Visualization

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