UX - UI: Learning Journal James field

Class 1 - Personas

The subject of the first workshop was to understand about developing empathy for the potential users of the UX problem we plan to tackle.

To help get us in the correct mindset, we were tasked with creating 2-3 personas and presenting them with appropriate information.

Personas are fictional users of a proposed product that can represent the diversity or the "average" from the proposed target audience. Details you create are based on your empathy for a particular person's plight as they battle with the current state of affairs that your proposed product is to make better.

My UX Problem

I plan on solving an issue I face every day. I am not alone. My target audience potentially covers every FE and HE tutor and student. That's the potential for massive impact. Even if the end product is not revolutionary, it will hopefully be at least evolutionary.

I, like many tutors, conduct personal tutorials with my students. This formalises the formative feedback process and helps the student plan their next move. This could be something as small as a detail of project they are working on, to something as massive as a decision to switch subjects (slightly pastoral).

Currently we use a paper-based tutorial system but it's terribly outdated, inefficient and even ineffective. This is demonstrated by the following personas (full versions available on Adobe EdEx):

Development & Reflection

After watching Mark Shufflebottom's video on what a persona is and how to create one I started thinking about how to best capture the information I need to generate empathy and demonstrate a user-centred understanding of the problem outlined above.

I broke the core data down into qualitative and quantitative - just like when you're conducting primary research (i.e. surveys). You need both to gain an appropriate understanding on both a technical and emotional level.

The qualitative data comes in the form of both an overview (or background) and some scenarios. The idea was to understand the needs of the user firstly though a personal look at the situations and environment they face the issues connected with my proposed UX solution.

The quantitative data consists of a goals vs. pains descriptor - a look at their behavioural traits and a suggestion to their needs and requirements.

I started the process by first creating a script in a text editor to remove all visual distractions which enabled me to focus on the data:

I then decided on how to best present this data. Part of the issue I found with existing templates is that they try to be visual but with little connection to the meaning of the visual systems employed. Even something as basic as changing the shape of a bullet point to further differentiate observation from action point:

I also wanted to present certain information in both a quantitative and qualitative model so I combined a Radar diagram with written observations:

This particular method is great for comparing the traits of one persona with those of the others at a glance.

On the subject of comparison, I initially thought about inventing a full name, age, background etc., but ultimately this information is superfluous because of the huge gamut in my proposed target audience. Therefore, I considered presenting my personas as a summary of their behavioural and personality traits. I believe this instantly allows the development team to get an understanding of what sort of person(s) they are designing for: The Visual Learner, The Academic & The Disorganised.

The other aspect I wanted to communicate with my personas is the branding of the proposed product. I have already given this some thought that extends beyond the UX problem I intend to solve throughout participation on this course.

The branding in question is for a product that might rival the current generation of LMS's, some of which date back 15+ years and are still built on the same, outdated principles. Therefore it needed to be something that could potentially encapsulate more than just the provision I am intending to design on this course:

The idea is that it is connected to the academic world but has a slight contemporary edge by spelling the traditional word of scholar incorrectly. I realise there is some potential irony here but the end product is as much for a current generation of young minds as it is for the established academic.

I therefore used the colour palette, fonts and general visual style through the design of my personas to help establish the brand and make everything feel connected. I even made reference to it when framing the photo profile of each persona:

I enjoyed this task and incredibly I was able to share my learning and approach with my own students the very next day. Hopefully, with their permission, I might be able to share their work as they are working on different problems to me.

Class 2 - Scope & Sitemap

For this class we were asked to think about the scope of our proposed UX-oriented products. This involved breaking down the tasks we considered at the initial ideas stage combined with the tasks identified via our Persona studies (see above).

Depending on the overall scope, this process could be massively complicated with careful consideration of information architecture or relatively straightforward if it's a very focused app web/app.

As it happens, the UX problem I intend to solve is structurally simple and in some ways a little difficult to design using the traditional sitemap because a lot of modern web apps tend to built around a one (or very few) page approach. There will be some structure but it will be very simple. The majority of the functionality will happen on one of the pages.

Still, in the interest of following along with the course I have undertaken the task and this is the result:

As I mentioned above, there is some basic page-style structure but the majority of the functionality will happen in the Tutorial Record "page". However, given a site structure should be a very simple overview of individual collections of content, I feel that the above does an appropriate job for the stage we're at.

Although I feel my project didn't necessarily warrant one, the process did get me thinking about functionality I overlooked such as reset/change password. I also had to employ a method of demonstrating how the structure would be different based on the different roles assumed by different users. I think this is often a part of this process that gets overlooked. I consider this a core part of the planning process and don't think it's too soon to be considering user roles.

As with the last task, I enjoyed creating the sitemap. Even though I didn't need to think too hard about it, I was given another opportunity to practice my design and visual communication skills. I am looking forward to fleshing this response out in the next Class.

Created By
James Field
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