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UXD & Me : Article

Major Project: Architecture Website | Phase 2: Commodity Crit

Major Project Brief:

My website is for those who want to explore & learn more about architecture in general. It will have content regarding the history & evolution of architecture in the whole world throughout several decades.

Features provided on my website:

  • Architectural Content Search Optimization
  • Itinerary Creation for travelers
  • Scratch pad option for students & professionals.
  • Suggestions of similar style buildings across the world for travelers.
  • Illustrative graphics, videos, gifs & visuals instead of long text content.

Purpose of this article:

This article narrates the process that I will conduct for my User Experience Research for my major project website. In this article, I am going to define how, where, and when I will take the necessary steps to complete my major project.

Why UX Research is necessary for my major project?

UX Research: User experience (UX) research is a method for studying how people interact with websites and digital products.

UX research is essentially important for my major project as my project solely depends on what users want to learn and understand about architecture. The success of this major project’s website depends on how easily users can find and learn about specific buildings, and their eras while simultaneously creating an itinerary for themselves.

A mental model is a conceptual model in a person’s mind about how things work.
Even though envisioning innovative products is fun, it’s hard to get people to change their behaviour. Customers have to see the value in the new way before they’ll consider abandoning the old. Devising new products to solve serious dilemmas is not for the faint of heart.

-Jamie Levy (Book: UX Strategy)

Major Project: UXD Process

Structuring my research by creating a list of things that I need for my UX research, which will help me understand the users’ pain points. My UX research will consist of the following items:

  • Hypothesis statement
  • Problem Statement
  • Value Proposition
  • User Story
  • User Personas
  • Empathy Maps
  • User Journey Maps
  • User Interviews
  • User Survey
  • Competitive Audit
  • User Testing
  • Prioritization of changes

My user research process will involve gathering data about my targeted users and analysing their needs and behaviours in order to design a better website experience and services. Here are some steps that I will follow to conduct user research on architecture content websites:

STEP 1:

Defining research goals:

I will first clearly define, what I hope to learn from this conducted user research. For example, I might want to understand how users navigate the website, what content they find most useful, or what problems they encounter when using the site. Defining research goals will include creating Hypotheses and Problem Statements. As per what Steph and Chris taught us, I will use the research method of ‘how might we’ here and define the goals & objectives for the major project clearly.

How Might We Statements: Major Project

STEP 2:

Identify target users:

Determine who the target users are and how I will reach them. I will also create user personas to understand them in a better way. I might use online surveys, focus groups, or user interviews to gather data from your target users. This part will include creating user storyboards and user personas. I will divide my targeted user groups into several parts: Architects, Travelers, Learners, and Others.

  • ARCHITECTS: I will talk to the architecture students studying at my university, talk to professional architectural designers in my company and try to understand what their expectations are before entering the website.
  • TRAVELERS: I will talk to several travelers I know and understand how they want to look for locations, save their desired places and create an itinerary for themselves. Later, I want to gauge where they want to navigate after creating their itinerary, for example, historical places booking pages, travel websites, etc.
  • LEARNERS & ARCHITECTURE ENTHUSIASTS: I want to talk to people who love architecture in general and try to understand what kind of things they want to learn about on my website. They will help me define the content for this page.
  • OTHERS: As a UX researcher, I want to make sure that I do not leave out anyone in my user research and consider every user as an equal participant on my website. I want to grab the attention of the remaining users and excite them about architecture & culture around the world too.

STEP 3:

Design my research methods:

I want to choose the research method that will best help me achieve my research goals. Some common methods for conducting user research include; user interviews, usability testing, and online surveys.

STEP 4:

Collect data:

I will then use my chosen research methods to gather data from the targeted users. I will make sure to document all of your findings in a clear, detailed, and organized manner. I will do two types of research analysis: Qualitative & Quantitative Analysis.

Qualitative analysis will include personalized and intimate conversations with the users. This can be done by performing user interviews. Quantitative analysis will include creating a multiple-choice question (MCQ) based survey on google forms and distributing it to a wider audience.

STEP 5:

Analysis of data:

Once I have collected my data, I will analyze it to identify patterns and trends. I will then, look for areas where users are struggling or finding the site particularly useful and use this information to shape design decisions. This phase of the project will include Empathy Mapping and creating User Journey Maps, which will help me determine how the users are feeling about the website and do they feel satisfied with their expectations. Building a user journey will help structure the website’s site map. The site map will contain the flow of various pages and how they will be linked with the homepage.

STEP 6:

Commodity Identification:

This phase of the project will include creating a value proposition and competitive audit for my website. In this phase, I want to understand how I can make this website valuable and profitable. After all the data collection, I want to identify business opportunities and point out what kind of services my users will leverage. I want to find a unique solution through which I can contribute something meaningful to the community.

Understanding Competitive Audit:

A competitive audit is a method for evaluating the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) of websites in your industry. It is a way to understand how your website compares to those of your competitors and identify areas where you can improve.

Comparison charts are a valuable source to find out what product features are offered by the direct competitors. Because of the competitive audit, I might discover new business opportunities and make my website’s services unique from what other competitors are offering. For example, I might want to compare the content displayed by my competitors to determine which company offers customers the most value.

For my research, I will conduct a comparative analysis with my website’s competitors like archdaily.comarchitizer.com, re-thinkingthefuture.com, etc.

To conduct a competitive audit, I will gather a list of websites and analyze their UI and UX elements. Here are some specific things I might look for:

  • Layout: How is the content organized on the website? Is it easy to find what you’re looking for?
  • Navigation: How easy is it to move around the website and access different pages?
  • Visual design: How does the website look and feel? Is it visually appealing and consistent with the brand?
  • Interactions: How do users interact with the website? Are the buttons and controls easy to use?
  • Mobile optimization: How does the website look and function on mobile devices?
  • Loading time: How long does it take for the website to load?
  • Content: The context displayed on the website is easily perceivable.
  • Product features: What are the different features I can provide on my website, that make it unique?

Disruptive innovation is the new punk rock.

– Jamie Levy (Book: UX Strategy)

Understanding Value Proposition:

Users might not know my product or understand its value yet. That’s where value propositions come in. A value proposition is a statement that explains the benefits that a product or service provides to its users. In the context of UI and UX design, a value proposition is a statement that explains the benefits that a website or digital product provides to its users.

To start, I need to do some research in order to answer these two questions:

What does my product do? Clearly explain the offering that your product provides users.

Why should the user care? Describe how your product addresses users’ pain points.

Reference: https://bootcamp.uxdesign.cc/design-process-define-2-7905171a53db?gi=fbcf02c62026

Now I will follow a series of steps to focus on my product’s unique value proposition.

Step 1. Identify the unique value that your product offers: What sets my product apart from similar products or solutions in the market? Here I will gather all the features and benefits provided on my website and list them down. This kind of study is similar to what Steph asked us to conduct in the User Research Workshop.

Step 2. Craft a clear, concise, and compelling value proposition: At this stage, I will divide my features into major categories to maintain clarity in the solutions provided, like the booking feature, easy interpretation of content by users, accessibility, etc.

Step 3. Determine how your product meets their needs: How does your product solve the problems or challenges faced by your target audience? How does it help them achieve their goals? To determine value, I will pair each persona with a value proposition that meets their biggest pain point.

One of the most important things to know about value propositions is that they need to be short, clear, and to the point. Users want to be able to easily identify exactly how the product will meet their unique needs and what sets the product apart in the market. Sometimes users won’t know what they need until we explain it to them. That’s the real heart of product design innovation.

-Jamie Levy (Book: UX Strategy)
Value Propostion: Major Project

STEP 7:

Request for feedback:

This phase of the project will include User Testing and Prioritization of changes. Here, I will create basic wireframes of my website to analyse how the users navigate. I will find the user pain points and improve my website accordingly. After this, I will again conduct usability testing with a hi-fi prototype of my website. That will help me understand what things on my website are catching my users’ attention, for example, any animations, GIFs, etc. After conducting two types of Usability Testing, I will prioritize the required changes and do them step-by-step.

At last, I will share my findings with my peers, professors, and other relevant parties and use their feedback to make improvements to the website and enhance the user experience.

Usability testing is a popular UX research methodology. In a usability-testing session, a researcher (called a “facilitator” or a “moderator”) asks a participant to perform tasks, usually using one or more specific user interfaces.

Source: Neilson Norman Group (Website)

Understanding Usability Testing:

It is a user research technique that involves observing how people use a product or service in order to identify any problems they encounter and suggest ways to improve the user experience. For my website, I will use several different methods for usability testing, including:

  • Lab-based usability testing: This involves bringing users into a controlled environment and having them complete tasks using the product or service being tested. Researchers observe and record their behavior and interactions with the product, and may also ask them to complete surveys or interviews to gather more detailed feedback.
  • Remote usability testing: This involves using online tools to conduct usability testing remotely. Users can complete tasks and provide feedback from their own locations, using their own devices.
  • Guerilla usability testing: This is a low-cost and informal approach to usability testing that involves recruiting people in a public place (such as a coffee shop or library) and having them complete tasks using the product or service being tested.
  • User interviews: This involves conducting personalized or small group interviews with users to gather detailed feedback about their experiences with the product or service.
  • User surveys: This involves creating a survey that users can complete to provide feedback about their experiences with the product or service.

Overall, I believe that usability testing is a dominant part of the design process because it helps ensure that products and services are easy and enjoyable to use, which can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

STEP 8:

Checking accessibility of the website:

Accessibility in web design refers to the practice of making websites that can be used by as many people as possible, including those with disabilities. This can include people with visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive disabilities. To make a website more accessible, I will follow guidelines such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These guidelines can help me in making my website more accessible, such as providing text alternatives for images, using sufficient contrast between text and background colors, and including captions for videos.

There are also several tools and techniques that can be used to make a website more accessible, such as:

  • Using <alt> text to describe images for users who are unable to see them
  • Providing transcripts for audio and video content
  • Using headings and lists to organize content in a logical and easy-to-follow manner
  • Designing pages with enough space between elements to allow users to easily click on buttons or links using a mouse or keyboard.
  • Testing the website using assistive technologies, such as screen readers, to ensure that it is fully accessible to users with disabilities.

Making the website accessible will not only help people with disabilities but will help people who are in different conditions too. For example, if a user does not have hands and wants to navigate through the website is similar to a user whose hands are occupied or who is multitasking while navigating through the website.

Conclusion:

Lastly, in this early stage, there are plenty of possibilities for me to experiment with and improve concepts. For the time being, I am excited to experiment with various research and design strategies to produce a site that is appropriate for my objective.

References:

  1. Why UX Research is necessary for my major project? Quote: Jamie Levy (Book: UX Strategy)
  2. Understanding Competitive Audit Quote: Jamie Levy (Book: UX Strategy)
  3. Understanding Value Proposition 2 Questions: https://bootcamp.uxdesign.cc/design-process-define-2-7905171a53db?gi=fbcf02c62026
  4. Understanding Value Proposition Quote: Jamie Levy (Book: UX Strategy)
  5. Request for feedback Quote: Neilson Norman Group (Website)

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