Overview

Problem:

Global Alliance for Local Voice (GALV) is an open source, end-to-end encrypted communication and networking platform intended for international audiences most impacted by issues of international labor. GALV approached me and my team to help them determine their users goals and motivations.

Tasks:

+ Construct a primary persona and understand users mental model when accessing GALV; 

+ Present a comprehensive story to users about GALV's mission;

+ Evaluate the site for usability errors;

+ Work with the project manager and engineering lead to create a product roadmap;

Solution:

GALV's website received an update to their on-boarding procedure and landing page which helped users identify the site and become familiar with it. We also designed their forum page.  

Results:

Change in direction for MVP.

User trust with GALV's website went from 30% to 90%.

My role: Design Team Lead

As Design Team Lead I:

  • Established our teams objectives and scope for this project. 
  • I created a functional team plan and instutited a team culture in which we had daily check-ins about our work.
  • Divied up work according to each designer's strengths.
  • Helped with the organization of the team's workflow and priorities.
  • Served as the liason between for the Client, Project Manager, and Development Lead about our team's progress with designs.

User Research

“Everyone's my target audience"

Once team norms were established, we met with the Client to discuss what sort of needs were required for the target audience. In the process of establishing the target audience for this application, it came out that the Client considered anyone who used social media as their target audience. 

My job here became to help the Client narrow down their focus for their inital MVP. After exploring the inital value proposition, we zeroed in on “People politically active online" and “People knowledgable about their local political issues" as our two target audiences. Once we got a clear understanding of our initial audiences, we began the work of finding out if this product's value proposition resonated with audiences. 

 

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Understanding the User's Needs

When GALV approached us, their website was still in creation, giving us the unique opportunity to integrate the user experience from the very creation of the platform. GALV initially gave us a seed list of potential users located all over the world. Before reaching out to the users, I wanted to make sure that the screener questions, and the interview questions, got at the attitudes and behaviors towards online chatting and community building.

My team conducting a total of 10 user interviews with people heavily involved in their communities and in online spaces. We then set out to composing a persona from our insights. 

“A new challenger approaches"

After completing a round of affinity mapping to pool our meeting notes, I noticed that there were two very distinctive behavioral patterns and attitudes that showed up in our persona groups. My team noticed something similar and we went back to the drawing board looking at the personas. 

Noticing the pattern again when affinity mapping, I began collecting my data points I could figure out which of our interviewees were contributing to the specific personas. The process took a little longer since my teammates had not color coded their responses, or coded their data from a specific user. Taking their data, I began to code all of the users responses and putting them into buckets. 

Coding the data allowed us to understand more about a primary persona and a secondary persona. Our data uncovered that the people most likely to use this product were American-born and younger. We gathered this data to present to our client. 

After we coded, sorted, and chose our primary persona's attributes, I made a persona to guide the scope of our work. From this point forward in our project, Linda Garrett guided our design decisions. 

This persona also helped served as a communication tool between the client, Project Lead, and Technical Lead. 

Product Pivot

After conducting our user interviews, we met with the client to present our findings. Upon finding that many users did not trust video chatting outside of their immediate social circle the product pivoted away from a video chat service toward forum based service.  

This significantly impacted the scope of our work. Originally our team had began prototyping for a chat forum, upon changing directions, I created a new scope of work with the client. We decided upon doing an onboarding experience for GALV, and create a landing page that got users signifcantly excited about participating within the community. 

Usability Testing

(Re)Scoping out the work

After the pivot, my team was petty nervous about our new timetable. After our standup, In order to alleviate this I whipped up both a user flow and a sitemap. After checking with the client and the dev team, I passed these on to my team to help us understand which sections we were responsible for producing from our team. 

Paper Prototyping

Once I had the user flow and the sitemap done, we ceated paper prototypes to test with users. On this round of testing, we tested five users just to discover some of our first set of usability issues. 

“In sickness and in health"

As we completed up the designs for the second prototype, a designer went home sick. This significantly cut down on the capacity of my team to produce assets. I took on most of her work by creating a style guide and the first digital mockup for our design team. 

The Final Design

After completing the mock-ups, we put the Sketch screens into InVision and tested them. After five user tests, we noticed some significant feedback about the website. We recorded these insights and iterated again on the onboarding process and fourm landing page. 

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“One more time..."

For the final designs, I hadned them off our mockup screens to our visual designer. Once we had the sceens pixel perfect, we tested them again. 

Users found the three step process cumbersome so I removed that from the flow of the sign-up process. Instead, we had users choose three two topics to see when they signed in. Once those were chosen, a user was instantly taken to the forums on the page. 

Significant issues arised from the forums blending together, despite highlighting topics by using white space. Upon my second usability test, I put different topics from the forum on different backgrounds. Testing again, this significantly helped users navigate the forum page. 

Upon testing the original site the average user rating for GALV's website was a 3 out of 10 (with 1 being not trustworthy at all) on trustworthiness. 

After putting these final screens in InVision and testing them, average user rating for trustworthiness went to 9 out of 10. 

Next Steps

  • Iterate on the forums page and refine design layout
  • Look at sharing modules for connectivity to other social media platforms
  • Work with the Development team to design security features that allow for anti-harassment and privacy
  • Design moderator panel