The GetXpert design project was a intended to immerse me in the entire User Experience (UX) design process as a companion to Career Foundry's 9 month UX Design Certification Course.
Some of the design specifications were outlined in a design brief from the program (i.e. a responsive mobile first web app, the general problem space of instant expert help), however as you'll see, the scope and design were fully in my hands.
This Case Study will show you the design process, research, testing, and present the final design.
GetXpert is a web app that was designed to allow anyone anywhere to instantly chat with experts in any field.
Everyone needs expert advice and Google and YouTube don't always cut it. Whether you need medical advice, technology troubleshooting, or automotive solutions, experts can move your life forward as long as you connect to the right expert and the experience gives you value for your money.
The design process started by exploring the problem space through my own lens or metal model:
“What is wrong with just Google?
Often, Google comes up empty when there's a specific problem such as (1) getting stuck DIY-ing my home and (2) mental or medical health.
“What circumstances would I have to find myself in to go spend money on an expert?”
For me it is certainly TRUST and doubting their efficiency.
Another way I explored the problem space was to conduct a Competitve Analysis of the market.
After throwing together a potential Business Requirements Document (BRD) I crafted a number of User Stories, for the user, the user turned expert, and the business. I included these extra stories to better accomplish the BRD outline.
User stories were a great start, but real user data changes everything. I sought out basic quantitative data through surveys with 36 participants, and then user interviews with 3 individuals from my target audience.
Research was instrumental in verifying the holes in my own assumptions before I got stuck designing my own ideas for too long. Right away, I found that people are willing to pay for expert advice in many areas, BUT in their words:
“I hate paying for help . . . unless I can’t do it or don’t have the time”
Great, what a start!
Insights from the Research Analysis are found by clicking the button below. However, in one sentence: The secret sauce to the user experience was
(1) being able to CHOOSE your expert by . . .
(2) establishing the credibility of the expert.
Much of the design architecture and user flow up to this point, included the requirement of the BRD to move users to become experts themselves. And as you can see in the research objectives I spent a good amount of the interviews on this point. However, I soon realized this was a massive undertaking not in the vein of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), and I switched my focus to the [non-expert] user.
Developing personas from the user research was a key step. Although user research insights are useful, real user quotes from research are foolproof way to ensure your personas are actually useful and their goals, motivations, and challenges trustworthy—almost every bullet point I used comes from a direct quote—and coupled with Empathy Maps, it meant I was very confident in the personas I had created.
As my first time working with Journey Maps, I definitely didn't have polished, company-wide, bulletin-board looking material, but for my own use these helped me walk their journey and find those features and emotional needs of the user that I hadn't discovered yet. You can see many of these features under the "Opportunities" heading.
Finally, I began putting pen to the design ideas. Because the space for paid-expert-help is pretty narrow, my solutions focused in on the expert selection process.
Using those Journey Maps, Mental Models, Userflows, Card Sorting, and Information Architecture, I created an outline for features and began Wireframing, first on paper and then to digital Mid-Fidelity Wireframes. I prepared to test the first Interactive Prototype.
You can interact with this prototype. Or view it on Adobe's website by clicking the button below.
As this was my first go around with prototyping software, I beat my head against the wall with Adobe XD. Trying to get it do everything I wanted was a headache. While I was able to develop a gray-scale HighFidelity Prototype for User Testing that was quite robust, I ended up abandoning XD's buggy slowness for InVision. However, I kept searching after finding InVision lacked some of the XD features. Eventually I landed on the stability and intuitiveness of Figma. Figma has wonderful 3rd party plugins, such as Google Sheets Sync and touch support, that speed up the process. It took some time to find my tool of choice, but, yay, I gained great experience in all three!
I conducted 6 user tests on the first full iteration of the web app see above aimed at determining the
1) ease of use,
2) satisfaction for time spent, and
3) satisfaction in establishing credibility with the experts.
COVID-19 meant there were some major hurdles to remote testing, but I can safely say I became a remote testing fiend.
The test report link below includes Preference Testing and the resulting reiterated Interactive Prototype similar to the first iteration.
Evaluative Research is an addictive high and throughout the rest of the design process I was constantly getting feedback from users, peers, and tutors. If only time and resource allowed for more.
I reduced the amount of decisions the user must make and integrated progressive onboarding to a revised userflow (see revised user flow here) and used Preference Testing to refine the onboarding.
Next, I added in visual elements, which was a lengthy process. While adding in visual design elements I tried non-traditional ideas (purple, yellow, black) but landed with calming colors (blue, caribbean green) and simple typography to speak to the user who enters into the problem space ALREADY frustrated and skeptical about paying.
Then I went for feedback from peers, evaluated for accessibility, and [drum-roll] worked in more revisions.
Below are the final screens, design language style-guide, mockups, and the interactive prototype—ready for handoff and the next big 6 week project. Could that next design be yours? Let me know here.
Being passionate about people and their experience I want to empathize and gain wisdom and insight into the best solutions for the design over and over again. However, working on a project and learning a new form of design during a social shutdown (COVID-19) was trying at times to say the least.
Design software has major limitations and the more you can do on paper before getting going digital, the better. The tools of the trade can bog you down and pull you away from the focusing squarely on User Experience. I found my most maximized time management was in designing and updating only the screens needed for testing and reiterating and gaining feedback. For me that even included going back to paper late in the design. After final design choices have been made, then update all screens, layouts, designs when those final pieces are needed.
With my background in music, video and graphics, early versions of deliverables are rarely in a report. As such, I found my presentation skills of annotated design were woefully lacking at first. Moving to presenting much of my work in Figma was a huge step forward. Getting that software and system out of the way, finding the quickest way to communicate my ideas and design was where I thrived. Otherwise, I was frustrated and defeated.
I found my problem solving and ideating skills far exceeding my expectations, but yet my actual knowledge of heuristics and app design meant that the best of intentions and solutions didn't always come through in my early designs. I want to focus in on studying more prolific designs and designers to gain more and more knowledge of experience.