User research with Georgia Tech’s student-parent community

As a part of an introductory HCI class, 3 of my classmates and I designed an app to connect the fragmented community of Georgia Tech’s graduate students who have kids and provide them with the informational resources specific to their needs.

My Role:

  • Led the user research, along with another researcher
  • Analysed research data and distilled design requirements
  • Conducted user testing
  • Served as the user needs advocate

Impact:

My research efforts helped uncover user needs and design opportunities. I created a common understanding about user needs within the team and steer the team’s effort towards one coherent direction. I inspired everyone to think from the user’s perspective and this resulted in our design solution being user-centred.


User Research:

Research Analysis

First, we collectively did affinity mapping of all the notes. However, that did not seem to reveal deeper relationships in data. When I color coded the notes by user, I realised that many categories we came up with were applicable to only one user.

So, I decided to re-analyse the data using inductive coding. Taking inspiration from the empathy map, I created three excel sheets: ‘User Profile’, ‘Say and Do’, and ‘Think and Feel’. Then I added each finding into either of these sheets along with a code to represent that finding. After a rigorous process of chewing all the data, I was able to find the relationships between user demographics and behavior and thoughts.

I wrote down to the findings that I had distilled and created user personas. Then I shared both of these with the team, and the personas acted as the north star for all future design decisions.

Bringing the Team Together

The design part of the project was being completely handled by the other 3 members of my team. My role was to give feedback and make sure our design ideas were in line with user needs. After a few design ideation sessions, it seemed that the five design ideas that were solidifying were all in completely different directions. There was lack of communication and to move ahead, we needed to get on the same page.

To solve this problem, I did an activity with everyone. On a whiteboard, I laid out all the ideas vertically in a column. For each idea, the designer would need to write the problem the idea solves, the goal it wants to achieve, and the persona or personas it targets. This exercise helped uncover assumptions and created a platform for transparent communication.

At the end, we voted for the top two ideas. I arranged a meeting with two of our users the next day where we showed our ideas and got feedback. From this meeting, not only were we able to decide which idea to go ahead with as a team but also were able to identify concrete design requirements.

User Testing

After we had a basic design ready, I showed the prototype to two of the users we had initially interviewed and got their feedback using think-aloud protocol, even though it was not a course requirement. I consolidated the feedback and communicated it to others in the team.

Also, as a part of the course requirement, I, along with another teammate, wrote down tasks and script for a future usability test.