UXD & Me

What is User Experience?

What is User Experience Design? The Wikipedia definition of design is to plan the construction of an object, activity or process. This is basically how something looks and works so UX design or user experience is to plan how something looks and works to make the activity of using it easy and enjoyable. In user experience design the designer looks at the behavior and the patterns and the habits of people to make their experience better. The most important factors in user experience design are usability, usefulness and desirability. If we nail all these factors, we get great user experience.

My Project - Skatepanda

My website skatepanda.co is a tutorial website for beginners who want to learn and explore skateboarding. I am also new to skateboarding and I always wanted to learn to skateboard ever since I was a kid. Growing up I watched a lot of cartoons and in those cartoons, the characters used skateboards and looked so good and fun to do. Unfortunately, where I grow up skateboarding was not popular and no skateboards were available. For my project, Prisca, our tutor asked us to try something new that we always wanted to do and I think this website will help me and the people who want to learn skateboarding or to want to learn a new skill. Never too late to live your best life.

Research Objective

The research objective for my website is to collect user experience data by various user experience design methodologies from people who love to learn skateboarding and how to encourage people to start learning new skills which they always wanted to do. My target audience is 18-40 years old and in the age group above 25 people do not want to get hurt. I am 28 years old and I want to learn a skill without breaking my arm or leg. To create a website with good usability and user experience for my target audience, I should identify what content should be created for the users to help them achieve what they want to learn and achieve.

To make a good user experience design I need a tool like a RESEARCH CANVAS for planning the research.

The research canvas is a single-page canvas in which I will have to answer questions like: Why am I doing this? What impact do I hope to achieve? What do I want to learn? What do I think I know? What do I think will happen? How will I know when it’s proven? What current research exists? Who is our target audience for this research? Which research method do we use? What does this prove or validate? And Which are relevant participant profiles? This will help me to set a clear goal and choose the right questions to ask while collecting information from the user.

The Design Thinking Process

The planning process for my website can be done by the core steps of user experience design which is composed of 6 distinct phases:

  • Empathize
  • Define
  • Ideate
  • Prototype
  • Test
  • Implement

Empathize

The first stage of the design process is Empathize. This stage is to know the users that we are designing and to understand the feelings, needs, and pain points of the users.

In my case, the users are people who want to learn skateboarding, so I have to understand what their feelings are about the need to learn skateboarding, and the problems that they face. As a beginner in skateboarding, I am also a potential user and I can relate to the problems and needs that the users desire, but problems vary from person to person. The challenge is to find out the common problems, common needs, and pain points the users feel. To understand the challenges of my users I can use quantitative and qualitative data collection. Qualitative data collection answers to ‘how” and “why” which includes conducting interviews with focus groups, and quantitative data collection answers to “what”, “how many” or “who” which includes assessments/tests and surveys.

I have created interview questions to understand the problems of people when they start to skateboard and how I can help them to rectify these problems. This is the link to my interview questions. I will conduct interviews with at least 10 people who like to learn skateboarding and people who had learned skateboarding. In this way, I can understand the problems of the beginners and how the problem was resolved by the pro skateboarders. I conducted a few interviews with the people that want to learn skateboarding and people who learned skateboarding from skateparks and other public places. After a few more interviewers I will use this data to create an empathy map to better understand the user needs which will help in my decision-making. Empathy mapping is an important process because it can give important insight into the user’s behavior, attitude, pain, gains, motivations, etc. If a person wants to learn just to cruise on a skateboard, I should create content to help that person to cruise better, If someone what to learn tricks or easy beginner tricks I should provide them with that content.

Define

The second stage in the design thinking process is Define which is defining the problem. Here I have to find out the time and space because what I think is the problem might not be the problem for many of the users. For example, some people fear that they might fall from the skateboard and will get a serious injury but some people will think that they might hit someone with the skateboard. I have to find the time and space for the problem to be developed and refined and reframed until I find the actual problem that needs to be solved. 

The data collected from the empathize step should be unpacked and synthesized to find out the common problem. To define the problems, I can analyze the data, and create User Personas. User Personas are made-up characters that you develop based on your research to represent various user types who might utilize your service, product, website, or brand similarly. I had created some User Personas which are of the same demographic area but they have different ages and professions. I should also redefine the problem as I go further with the research and pinpoint exactly what the user needs. Then I have to write down multiple problem statements and redefine and rewrite my problem statements over again. To do that I can then use the common method How might we? How might I provide tutorial content which is not boring? How might I encourage people to start skateboarding? How might I provide an easy tutorial so that everyone can understand and follow it? From there I should be able to define and refine the problem to be solved.

Ideate

The next step in the design thinking process is Ideate which is coming up with as many ideas or solutions as possible. In this stage, we want quantity and diversity of ideas and I have to keep in mind quantity, not quality. To get as many ideas as I can. I have to suspend judgment not only on mine but also on the ideas of other people to create more ideas.

I should also consider novelty over relevance. In my case creating novel ideas and novel ideas is very important. The way I am learning is by watching youtube videos but it is sometimes hard to implement. To create new and original content I must find out different ideas to make a good user experience. Some of the methods that I can use in the ideate phase are Mind Mapping, Journey maps Sketches, Storyboards, etc.

Mind mapping helps me to create branch many new things like solutions and problems from a central point. It helps to reduce the complexity of a task. The mind map is the blueprint of my project. For example, if I start for a branch called skateboard videos, I can sub-branch them into feature videos, tutorials, interviews with skateboarders, etc. From tutorial videos, I can then sub-branch them into basics of skateboarding, advanced tricks, dancing on a longboard, etc. In this way, it helps to boost my creativity and memory to do my website.

Journey maps help to create great prototypes, from the user personas created I will select around 3 personas that represent the most users and their needs and problems from the interview results and surveys. For example, consider a user who wants to skate to work because he had to walk a mile and no bus or train is available. His choice is to learn just to cruise to work and I will have to focus just to teach me the basics to skate, stop and turn. That may satisfy his need. I also have a challenge, how well the person understands the information and how easy is it to implement. This is an important part to increase the credibility of my website. 

Prototype

The prototype is the next in the design thinking process. My website is content-driven, so because it's content-based I will have to open a youtube channel, and to promote that I will have to make an Instagram account that has promotion tools and interactive tools in a business Instagram account. I have already created an Instagram with the user id: skate.panda. I will post shot reels tutorial videos or cruising videos to get reviews about my content in the comment section and interaction from the Instagram stories and I can plan accordingly for the content on my website.

After creating some content on the youtube channel and for my website I will create a sitemap. A sitemap will help me to create different pages and how I can connect to different pages and navigate through the pages. For example, some users will be visiting the website just to learn about the different types of skateboards, so it should be easy to find when the user arrives, or else the user will leave the website very soon.

The next step in the prototype process is to create wireframes. First, I will use paper to create rough wireframes and more than one wireframe of a page. Then I will create a digital wireframe using photoshop or illustrator. Most of my users may be using a mobile phone I should make the mobile-first version of the website and then progress to tablets and laptops and desktops.

When the design of the website is almost finished, I will make the prototype of the entire website using Adobe XD.

Test and Implement

The next step is testing, for this, I will be using a research method where we watch the users complete some tasks using our product and services. After releasing the youtube videos through my channel and Instagram I will ask a group of people mostly friends to watch those videos so that I can find out whether they could learn anything or if there are mistakes or any improvements so that I could then correct them and reupload.

The next step is to ask them to test the prototype of my website that I had designed and find out the pain points of the users so that I can improve them with the results collected from this usability testing done by them.

I could go to skateparks and show them my website and then could clearly understand the problems as they have great experience in skateboarding. I will be able to find beginners in those skateparks and ask them about their opinion about the website whether they can understand or learn from my tutorial and pinpoint the problems they had and try to fix those and implement a website with a good user experience.

Conclusion

Since these design plans are based on my beginner-level understanding of UXD, there is certainly a lot of scope left for improvement. As I approach the later stages of design, I look forward to overcoming this by expanding my knowledge both from my reflections and additional research.

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