My freshman year, I took a Wharton seminar on product ideation and design. The purpose of our new product was to fix the problem of social isolation on Penn’s campus. While Penn has many clubs, organizations, and social events, one of the most common issues facing undergraduates was the feeling of being left out or not included. To tackle social isolation, my team and I decided to design PennPals, a mobile application that connects Penn undergraduates through shared interests and hobbies!

To come up with our design, we first needed to pinpoint the causes of social isolation.


After brainstorming a laundry list of items that might cause social isolation, we knew that it was impossible to fix all of these through one application. Thus, we tasked ourselves with focusing on major pain points that could be best solved using a mobile app.


The pain points we decided to focus on reasons like the prevalence of cliques on campus, the fear of missing out, increased stress, etc. With these pain points, we created “How-Might-We”s.

How might we connect people to a community that helps students who feel left out?

With this mission in mind, we began ideating what we wanted our app to look like. Did we want it to be similar to any other type of social media apps? How did we want it to look? And what would the overall user experience look like?


The apps currently on the market we liked the most were Meetup and Pokemon Go. Meetup was already an existing app that provided people the ability to meet strangers with shared interests. While we liked this initial concept, we wanted to create an app that focused on Penn students and events.


After story-boarding our app, it was time to design it in Adobe XD. Adobe XD was incredibly easy to use and made it much easier to visualize how an app might look without actually needing to code it from scratch.


And at the end, we made a short video demo to show during the product showcase! Introducing PennPals - coming to you soon (hopefully! but not actually): (2).gif