LEAP Innovations (client-project)
Duration: Spring Quarter 2018
LEAP Innovations is a Chicago-based nonprofit organization connecting innovation and education to reinvent our one-size-fits-all system and transform the way kids learn. As both facilitator and innovator, LEAP Innovations works across a variety of stakeholders — educators, entrepreneurs, innovators and thought leaders — to help reinvent education.
Our client proposed two products for us (UX Design Practicum class) to improve their user experience. The products were EdTech and MatchDay. My team (called as EdTech team) led the client's EdTech product - Education product curation & evaluation website.
Following were the objectives for this project:
- Establish a working relationship with the client.
- Understand the business function.
- Define the problems and alleviate or address it with the help of User Experience Design process.
- Involve the client in the design process.
- Help the client to envision a solution and sell the value of UX.
- Provide user experience deliverables to the client to ensure that deliverables are met to the standard in which the client expects.
- Take feedback and improve.
PROBLEMS & CHALLENGES
We conducted interviews with our client for the consecutive three (3) weeks for approx. thirty (30) minutes each. This led us to understand their business function and the problems they (the product user) encounter. Through the interviews, we came up with the following list of questions and quotes:
- What are the opportunities to streamline the process and improve the user experience through long-term design solution?
We had the following constraints:
- A total of seven (7) weeks to accomplish our project objectives.
- We had a touch-point with our client once a week for only thirty (30) minutes.
- We didn't have an access to interview the users (EdTech product evaluators) of the product.
We analyzed and synthesized the information through our interview data and defined two personas for the two types of users (LEAP Staff, External Panelist - Product Evaluator) who interacted with the EdTech website. This in return helped us to keep our users at the very center throughout the project life-cycle.
user journey & experience mapping
We involved our clients to help us visualize their business function and the journey of a user. This in return helped us to identify and empathize the pain-points the users went through the current process.
We (team EdTech) proposed a Design Strategy to help us remind the purpose of our mission to deliver a meaningful user experience to our clients. It gave us a strong reason to work on this project.
We chose the visual models (also in the printed form) to give our vision and product strategy a form. The models discussed below became a central artifact wherein all participants (EdTech team & clients) built a concrete understanding of the abstract and complex ideas being discussed.
Our Design Strategy encompassed a visual story telling in the following forms:
Emotional Value Proposition
Since we were determined to deliver a meaningful user experience to our clients, we had to come up with an emotional value proposition. A customer will buy or use a specific product not just because of what it does, but also because of how it makes him feel. Therefore, we asked ourselves the following question:
What can someone feel after using or acquiring our product that he/she couldn't feel before using or acquiring our product?
- Well-Designed: How to Use Empathy to Create Products People Love
Our answer to the question:
After using EdTech Portal, people will feel happy to communicate/collaborate with each other and will feel more in control of their evaluation process.
Contextual Design - Flow Model
To capture their whole business function, we built a flow model. The flow model visualized the whole painful process through the interactions between the user and the product.
To demonstrate our long-term vision for the clients, we built a concept map to show the relationships between the conceptual sections of the envisioned product. This in return helped our team internally to build alignment and help others to see our vision for the envisioned product.
Sketches & Initial Wireframes
The wire sketches were derived from the heuristics evaluation (10 Heuristics for User Interface Design by Jakob Nielsen) of the original EdTech website.
The two teams (EdTech & MatchDay) had a feedback session on Week 6. Both the teams had printed out their design artifacts and offered constructive feedback using the post-it notes to improve further. The session was guided by our instructor Jason Ulaszek.
Product Vision Mockup & Final Presentation
Through our research and design strategy we came up with a product vision (LEAP Portal) in the form of a visual mockup. LEAP Portal fulfills our emotional value proposition by delivering a streamline experience to our personas (LEAP Staff & External Panelist). For the final presentation, we (Team EdTech) delivered the color-printed mockups in the tabloid size (17 x 11") and Wire-flow description to our client - LEAP Innovations Team (6 representatives) to see their envisioned product. Our presentation took them through the journey of our whole project life-cycle.
A group photograph at the client's office with our instructor.
Our team (EdTech) encompassed four members:
Carli: Built stakeholder interview protocol, conducted interviews, brainstormed product vision, built journey map (whiteboard), and analyzed interview data.
Catherine (Xinyu): Attended interview sessions, brainstormed product vision, sketched & built wireframes, collaborated to build product mockups.
Akash: Built personas and empathy map, printed out product mockups.
Abhinit: Led the EdTech team, conducted interviews, brainstormed product vision, led the design strategy, iterated wireframes, built flow model, concept map, journey map (digital), and product mockups.
I encountered challenges to accomplish this project. Of course without challenges there are no achievements! I learned the following valuable lessons and would love to improve further:
The metrics I registered:
- It was challenging to demonstrate concept map and flow models to the clients. I learned new things and saw the world in a new way through creating the models. It helped me to grasp a solid understanding of the client's business function. But since the client wasn't along the ride, they didn't learn the way we did. Our clients were visually overloaded during our regular client meeting.
- We didn't get a chance to interview our second type of user - product evaluators. We gathered their insights through our client (our clients provided us a document of their collective feedback).
- Initially, it was difficult to understand their business function through online interviews once a week for only thirty (30) minutes for each team. It took a lot of time to rectify misunderstood points. A contextual inquiry could've benefited us to observe their interactions and unconscious behavior through their interaction with the product. This would've led us to uncover unique insights.
- Our team initially struggled to understand each other. Through shared goals and purpose, we overcame the collaboration issues.
Did the project go live?:
No, the project didn’t go live due to the time constraints and availability of resources. If we had more members and given time, we’d have designed screens for the whole product, would’ve come up with a prototype, conducted usability evaluation and collaborated with developers/software engineers to build our envisioned product.
Did it sink?:
It was a successful attempt in delivering the value of UX - The clients fully understood the impact of design. Though our design solution didn’t encompass the whole product, we addressed the key pain-points of the the original product.
What feedback did we receive from our client?
Although they needed the time to engulf the abundance of information and visuals we offered, they were happy with the final output. Our clients loved the incorporation of social aspect in to our solution where in we fulfilled the demands of the external panelist users based on their feedback via our client. They're willing to see it being developed sooner and would further stay in touch for the execution.