UXD60113 Researching User Experience II
Continuing the concepts from RUX I, we were able to choose our own subject to research. I chose to study mySHU, the online portal all students and faculty utilize as Seton Hill University. The system was created and launched in 2017 in an effort to consolidate multiple landing pages across the university. These areas include JenzaBar access, GriffinGate, and Griffin’s Lair.
DeliverablesPDF, Powerpoint Presentation with audio
Throughout the course, I completed the following activities focused on the user’s experience with mySHU:
- Drafting a Research Memo
- Writing an Executive Summary
- Writing a Research Method Section
- Writing a Recruitment Section
- Writing a Data Analysis Section
- Analysis of Gathered Data
- Drafting Findings and Recommendations
- Compiling the Research Report
Draft a Research Memo
A research memo allows for organization of ideas and creation of convincing arguments for conducting user-based research. As part of this process, it was necessary to select a manageable research project. The goal would was to help improve a product, service, or process. Due to the time constraints of the course, the subject had to be something that could be researched in a two week timeframe. The memo length was limited to 300-600 words and had to include the following:
- The context of the site to be studied in order to orient the audience and help them understand why research is being conducted
- Draft a problem statement addressing the larger issues which research would solve
- Pose specific research questions the study would address
- Provide evidence supporting the process behind answering the research question
- Address the feasibility of the study including recruitment, data collection, analysis, and creation of the final report
User Research Memo
In order to request and justify user research, a brief research memo was written to convince stakeholders user research will benefit their project long term. Since many people want to jump into developing and designing without proper research, it is imperative they understand why user research is very important. The memo included:
- An introduction with a succinct description of the information being presented
- A brief summary on why research is beneficial
- 4-5 specific examples from the nano usability test where the interface could be improved
- An informed opinion on why research must be inserted into the project development timeline
Similar to the RUX I Marriott project, an executive summary of 500-750 words was written to concisely describe the situation and to present a case for further research.
While many research methods were available for use, the selection of the most effective for our project depended on the individual and their goals. Methods available were interviews, surveys, field visits, dairy studies, focus groups, and collection of usage data. Two methods had to be chosen with an explanation behind their appropriateness and feasibility. Two sections were required: a narrative description of the methods chosen and the research methods chosen.
The careful selection of users is imperative to the completion of solid, constructive research. In 500-750 words, the following recommendations and justifications had to be made:
- Target Audience Profile(s)
- Recruitment Screener
- Plan for Contacting Participants
- Plan for Study Session Management
Data Analysis Section
In addition to the chosen research methods, a plan for collection and analysis of the data had to be drafted. Variables expected to be studied were to be specified along with how the data would be studied. All data collection instruments were included, such as data collection spreadsheets, interview guides, and research scripts.
Findings & Recommendations
After conducting user research sessions, the data had to be analyzed, organized, and represented in a graphic format. Descriptions of how the data was studied along with tables, charts, graphs, and other data visualizations were also created.
Compiling the Research Report
Similar to the deliverables from RUX I, a final report was compiled containing:
- Executive Summary
- Research Overview
- Research Methods
- Data Analysis
- Appendix (data collection instruments, screener questions, and additional data)
Finally, an audio/visual presentation was created using PowerPoint. The 5 minute time limit posed a problem due to the sheer amount of information and data collected. The presentation had to include:
- Context overview
- Problem Statement
- Research Question
- Description of Research Methodology
- Description of Target Audience and Recruitment Activities
- Key Findings
- Key Recommendations
While the assignments seemed similar from one semester to the next, this iteration of user research was more challenging. Choosing a proper research topic was rather easy, as everyone, from students to faculty, complains about the mySHU portal. The portal was launched in 2017. The online experience is an amalgamation of multiple platforms the University houses for students and staff. MySHU is just the landing page bringing all of these component parts together. In theory, it is an excellent idea. Not only can you access forms from the older system, you are also able to access your email, the Canvas LMS, and search the directory. However, it has some flaws and these flaws cause difficulty for the user.
I decided to break my research into two parts: students and faculty. Along with in person interview sessions, I created a Survey Monkey survey that was emailed to students and faculty. I felt this yielded far more honest feedback than the in person interviews. People were more forthcoming with their answers. I have used Survey Monkey in the past, and the analytics were very helpful.
I also found it far easier to write the component parts of the research report. It was, of course, the brevity that posed a challenge. Reducing and distilling the information to what is necessary was very valuable.