Jason Zhou ’21 on the beauty of the user experience

Up until just a decade ago, web design wasn’t the biggest priority for web services.  Instagram was called ‘Burbn’ and user interfaces weren’t considered key factors affecting user experiences. A lot has changed since then, specifically around web design. If only given 15 minutes to consume content, 66% of people would prefer to see something beautifully versus something plain and simple, according to web experts.  That’s why Jason Zhou is bringing beautiful web and product design to Thinc-hub, a Syracuse LaunchPad venture.

Thinc-hub was founded by Blackstone Launchpad Global Fellow Patrick Prioletti G’21. It is an online platform that utilizes machine learning to help connect entrepreneurs and talented individuals across different communities to start ventures. Jason Zhou, who is a junior studying information technology at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, joined the Thinc-hub team in early 2020 to develop the product design and web design of the platform.

“At the beginning of the semester, Patrick reached out to me with an idea.  It was really interesting, and I got onboard,” recollects Zhou. As a young professional, who values opportunities that are available to students, Zhou very entrenched by the idea. He notes that Thinc-hub can be instrumental in providing students a world of new opportunities in the future. He also loved the idea of implementing classroom knowledge to a real work startup which “is amazing for me.”

Zhou finished the Landing page of the platform and notes it would have been extremely challenging for he and Prioletti to do, without relying on their collective classroom knowledge and university resources.

As an expert in product design, Zhou shares, “Having your own design is very important. That way in the future, you can keep it flexible and add new features without rebuilding the whole thing.”

This mantra is one that both Prioletti and Zhou keep in mind as they build the design for Thinc-hub.

Currently, the team wants to establish a base level framework, but they have plans to expand the usability of certain features in the future and in order to do that, the idea of design flexibility is important. Another important aspect of web design is designing consistency between different mediums. Zhou explains how the product design must be similar across a mobile and a web platform. This has many advantages from ranging from elevated user experience to brand awareness.

Zhou spent the past three years at Syracuse University, cultivating a passion for web and product design. He has assisted his professor in conducting research. This research was centered on analyzing the effects of User Experience on consumer behavior and activity on the web. He also explains that User Experience (commonly denoted as U.X.) and User interface (commonly denoted as U.I.) were once the same industry, but with growing complexities, they are now two distinct fields. “For U.X. you are basically looking at experience, but for U.I. you are looking at design history and trend,” he shares. He is interested in U.X.

As a design student, Zhou appreciated working for Thinc-hub and building it into reality. He is excited by the idea od building something so communal and energetic and cannot wait for the platform to be live, in about a year’s time. Zhou is also thankful for the Blackstone LaunchPad, powered by TechStars. He is especially thankful for the Launchpad’s environment. As a student who is passionate about career development and opportunities being available to students, the LaunchPad’s student engagement provides a plethora of students with resources and guidance to share their own opportunities, which Zhou appreciates.

“It’s a place where students get inspired, and a place where students can implement their classroom experience into a real-life project.”

Story by Blackstone LaunchPad Global Fellow Krishna Pamidi ’21    Photo provided