As two day old students at (GA) we were split in into pairs and ask to develop a hypothesis how GA could improve the either socially or academically. My partner and I both agreed the few weeks leading up to the course date had been a convoluted mess of invites, links to different GA sites that only performed on function and a whole slew of student services emails.

Our proposed hypothesis?

“Incoming General Assembly students are having trouble keeping track of on-boarding materials.”

So with our first hypothesis and a handful of questions we set off alone agreeing we both wanted to practice our interviewing skills or rather the lack there of.

Since the problem assumed problem involved GA students what better way than to hit the New York City campus hall ways and ask them right? Easier said than done a INTP introvert like myself. But somehow after a few hours of avoidance I managed to snag a few people taking breaks.

Interviewing proved hard than I thought, and I found myself retooling my questions immediately after the first interview. (Is that allowed? I’m new here 👋🏻)

Synthesizing the data

Even before I began affinity mapping an obvious trend emerged from the people I had interviewed: Users don’t see or read all their emails. Affinity mapping brought out that generally users inboxes were not organized, the frequency of checking their emailed compared to the amount of emails received was limited, and the on-boarding process was long. A platform also emerged… mobile! (shocked?)

From here the problem statement developed:

“On boarding General Assembly students can sometimes be disorganized or neglectful of their email, how might we help provide a concise and accessible way for them to find the needed information throughout the lengthy process?”

Areas for opportunity that arose were;

Centralization: provide a centralized hub for all pre-work, resources and messages from the school.

Cross Platform: something that could function from phone to desktop seamlessly while also being time and cost effective for the business.

Direct: sending out student services items via notifications and more important course related information with a messenger would alleviate a lot of the bloat emails on boarding students receive.

After hashing out the core functionality, research was undertaken drawing inspiration from apps and website users would most likely be familiar with, such as Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram. This work lead to the following sketches:

Usability Testing

For the first round of usability testing four users were asked to complete two tasks:

  1. Registers an account and access the dashboard

2. Find and complete “Task 1.1” starting from the dashboard.

Overall the testing went well with a limited amount of error which stemmed from a lack of feedback from the the system. Users also commented that they wished the navigation buttons were labeled and preferred bottom navigations when using larger phones.

Round Two Usability

For round two a medium fidelity clickable prototype was developed and tested with an additional four users, adding three new tasks in addition to the one from round one.

3. Find Profile menu, edit profile and save changes

4. Read unread message from Student Services, write a response and send

5. Navigate to resources and locate favorites

All but the last task were executed flawlessly, where users struggled for a few seconds trying to find where the favorites were located.

Whats next

Considering the process described above, the results, and feedback following a class presentation, the development process proved effective but in the future greater emphasis would be placed on user interviews and really try get as much information as possible. Overall I think the whole iterative process was very insightful and really a kickstart into the world of UX.

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