Tamvu - UX & UI Pathway

Throughout the last couple weeks, I have learned about the UX Design process and what the field entails. The most important thing I have learned so far, however, has been how to approach problems, using a process known as design thinking in order to evaluate user needs and pain points. The technical skills I have learned include affinity mapping, information architecture, card sorting, and user interview techniques to aid my user research and evaluation of a platform. In terms of tools, I have become familiar with Miro, an extremely useful collaborative brainstorming tool, as well as Figma, a UI prototyping and design tool. These are all important in the field of UX design as it allows for us to define a problem and identify solutions, all while maintaining the importance of the user experience. Creating prototypes using Figma is important as well as it allows for us to mock a solution, and then test those prototypes to further gauge which solution is easiest for the user.

Soft skills I have learned throughout these last couple weeks include collaboration and communication, not just among team members, but with interviewees as well. It’s extremely important how you conduct interviews as it is important to make sure the interviewee is comfortable and giving honest responses. The best way to do this is to make sure not to ask leading questions, allowing them to form their own honest opinions and conclusions.

A highlight for me was our affinity mapping activity, as this allowed me to begin to get to know my teammates and work with them directly, as well as see how we all work together. I really enjoyed this activity because it allowed us to think deeper about our platform, the issues with it, as well as bounce off eachother’s thoughts and ideas.

A second highlight would be using Figma to create our first low fidelity prototype, as well as the accompanying lesson on how to use Figma. Although I am familiar with Adobe XD, Figma is another large and popular prototyping tool used by many designers, so I felt like it was important for me to be exposed to as many tools as possible! I also really enjoyed learning about how to create components as well as the lessons on lining things up and keeping things in proportion, as these were things I had not thought to do for, even in Adobe XD.

My third highlight would be creating our information architecture map, as we were able to use our research conducted from before in order to finally substantiate some of our solutions and thoughts. I enjoyed doing this because it allowed us to start thinking deeper about WHY we were putting things where we were, which is something I feel like at the start, we were not as good at. I feel like this was a key indicator that we were progressing, not just in our familiarity with UX design, but with the thought process behind it.

June 1 Meeting 1

June 2 Meeting 2

June 5 Meeting 4

June 8 Meeting 5

June 9 Meeting 6

June 10 Meeting 7

June 15 Meeting 8

June 16 Meeting 9

The subgroup meetings I attended were on:

June 8

June 9

June 10

June 12

June 13

June 15

June 16

( we usually schedule sub group meetings directly after our large group meetings, with some on the weekends/extra times for completing tasks if necessary! )

I have attended all group meetings except one, since that day I did not realize there was going to be a meeting. Besides those, my subgroup has been having our own meetings after each group meeting, as well as extra meetings if needed to complete assignments. The big group meetings I attended were:

June 1 Meeting 1

June 2 Meeting 2

June 5 Meeting 4

June 8 Meeting 5

June 9 Meeting 6

June 10 Meeting 7

June 15 Meeting 8

June 16 Meeting 9

The subgroup meetings I attended were on:

June 8

June 9

June 10

June 12

June 13

June 15

June 16

A goal I have for the upcoming week would be to start creating higher fidelity prototypes, as well as start testing our prototypes! I would hope in the upcoming weeks that we begin creating interactive prototypes we can begin testing, and eventually being able to take into account design and aesthetic detail.

Task 1: My subgroup and I created interview questions together on a FaceTime call, as well as started thinking about what we would like to focus on in our project. We did have to readjust most of our questions, but this was a great learning experience as we all learned about what type of questions to ask and what to avoid! It was important for us to learn about the importance of not asking leading questions. While it may be obvious to us that there is an issue, perhaps there are users out there who would not of seen it, or would have pointed out a different issue.

Task 2: My team and I turned our individual interviews into different insights, and then began grouping similar insights together in order to identify common pain points between various users. The grouping together aspect was a little difficult, as everything seemed kind of similar while also kind of not, but in the end, we came to a consensus and could identify why we put things in certain groups. This is known as affinity mapping.

Task 3: We had brainstorming sessions in order to identify solutions based on the issues identified during our affinity mapping. We came up with dozens of ideas, good or bad, and narrowed down on our solutions based on dot voting and a decision matrix.

Task 4: We created a user flow for the navigation bar, which is the focus of our project. This was difficult at first, because we there are so many things accessible within the task bar. But we were able to identify patterns and soon became familiar with the process pretty quickly. Furthermore, I feel like this highlighted a main pain point in the navigation bar: the fact that there are too many things!

Task 5: We used card sorting in order to figure out how users interpret and use the items on the task bar, having them group the features into categories and rank them from most used to least used. It was through this that we created our information architecture model. A hurdle we ran into was we realized that some of the things we personally did not use were actually used by other users. We struggled a little bit on how to take into account what users actually used and how we could not overload the task bar. In the end though, we came up with clear cut reasons for everything on the bar!

Task 6: We used Figma to create a low fidelity prototype of our solution. It was relatively easy to use, which is good. I don’t believe we had any problems with it.

Final Self Assessment
I loved being a part of this student internship! Looking back, I have learned SO SO much about the UX field, and have come SO FAR in my understanding of the field, all thanks to my incredible mentors!

Over the course of the last five weeks, we focused a lot of what UX/UI actually is, and what UX/UI Researchers and Designers do within a project, their importance, etc. I think the most valuable thing we learned was design thinking, and how to ensure our projects (both current and future) are centered around user empathy. I really enjoyed this, as although I had a lot of experience with designing visual elements and UI interfaces, I always just kind of looked at it from an “aesthetic” point of view, rather than truly thinking about it from the user point of view.

After this solid foundation of thinking about user empathy, we began looking at various ways of generating user empathy through user research. Throughout the course of the internship, I gained experience conducting user interviews, card sorting, user surveys, and usability testing. For evaluating user research, we used affinity mapping. For brainstorming and evaluating possible solutions, we used more brain dumping, affinity mapping, and impact feasibility matrices. We also created user flows for the current StemAway site, as well as an information architecture for possible solutions based off our card sorting.

Through our identification of pain points for the user, we decided that navigation is the biggest common issue among both new and old users of the StemAway website. Our solution focused on reorganizing and redesigning the StemAway navigation. Our solutions that we generated included moving notifications to be underneath a bell icon, having messages be directly accessible on the bar, moving user specific features to underneath the profile icon, making the log out button less accessible, and getting rid of the hamburger menu in favor of a new button for forums.

More detail about our process and solution can be found in my written case study:
behance.net/tamivu