Role: UX designer, PM
My Tasks: Interaction design, visual design, prototyping, IA, research, usability testing, content writing
Timeframe: 10 weeks
Team: 2 researchers, designer, developer
Restructure the Research Commons (RC) site to make it easy for students to find:
A functional prototype in InVision, mockups for the entire site, and approval by Research Commons for the next redesign.
I conducted research and worked with our team to understand how students currently use the site and what they would like to accomplish.
“Lots of cool events, but people don’t know about them.”
—Help Desk attendent 2
Usability tests revealed that UW students did not know much about the library and struggled to navigate the site.
Doing well in school & working quickly were most students' end goals of using the library, with ~70% using the RC for group work.
We found organizing the IA challenging because of so many great but unrelated services. The site required many clicks, and even experienced users had a difficult time finding things.
We ran a card sort and a navigation test, and grouped features to better facilitate specific tasks.
Two Key changes
We stressed about getting the navigation right to help students find things faster, and better promote the library’s services. I researched other UW and external sites, and I tested designs with students in the RC.
Five layouts and flows were tested to (1) optimize the primary task of reserving spaces and equipment while (2) encouraging exploration of other services.
We broke away from the minimalist layout of the site because it was making it difficult to find and complete tasks, and instead grouped similar content that would be used together.
We wanted to convey how unique the RC is, but still feel part of the UW brand. We used an Invision prototype to see if students could find and accomplish their work faster with our new layouts.
I also did content strategy for all the pages and simplified the formatting and phrases to resonate with busy students.
Learnings & challenges
Along with the navigation, I designed the About and Research Events sections.
About Page: I simplified 5 "About" pages into one comprehensive page.
Research Events: I simplified 11 disparate pages into 5 cohesive pages with a clear workflow. I used visuals and language to help explain the complex academic events, and appeal to a wider range of students.
I designed the final navigation based on all stages of our testing. Even though it has more headings and includes dropdowns, students were able to find pages more quickly and accurately.
The RC loved our ideas, but sadly, they had much less developer time than they had originally hoped. Next time, I would spend more time talking with the client about the implementation so we can deliver something better within their resources.