UNDERSTANDING THE USER & CREATING EMPATHY
ORGANIZING THE STRUCTURE OF CONTENT & FEATURES
Since the current Teacher Created Materials site had obvious taxonomy issues we had to view the site structure as a complete rebuild. We conducted a Card Sorting exercise with various user types in order to understand how they think about the relationship between product categories. Surprisingly, there was a lot of commonality between the various user types. We then used this information to develop a new navigational structure.
I felt it was necessary to design the search function process first on paper for all personas so that we could all “see it” as it should work, test our ideas, then refine them. I started with the usual pads of colored sticky notes and a sharpie. I organized them into a process that made sense then refined that into a fully documented User Journey document. The team used this work to design the core functions of the site.
COMPOSING SOLUTIONS THAT DELIGHT THE USER
I developed wireframes that incorporated our discoveries and ideas during the User Journey and Sitemap phases. I started with whiteboard sketches to work through the core functions. It became apparent rather quickly that I needed to explore a faceted search function to account for the complexity detailed in the User Journey. We worked through several ideas and finally arriving at the perfect solution that was ultimately vetted through user testing.
BUILDING A FUNCTIONAL MODEL TO TEST OUR IDEAS
Using Axure RP I developed an interactive prototype from the largely static wireframes. The prototype brought to life the faceted search functions for a variety of shopping scenarios. I was able to refine this until the entire team was happy with how it worked. Of course that means nothing until we get it into User Testing.
GETTING FEEDBACK FROM THE USER
I conducted two rounds of Usability Testing with actual customers. The first round of testing was with low-fidelity wireframes with the goal of flushing out my weaker ideas and finding what resonated with the customers. Once I made the necessary adjustments, I proceeded onto high-fidelity prototypes. For the second round of testing I used later stage prototypes. Because Teacher Created Materials had relationships with educators all across the US, I was able to conduct live remote Usability Tests via GoToMeeting screen sharing. It proved to be quite effective in getting the best match in test subjects and research feedback.
BRINGING THE DESIGNS TO LIFE
User Interface Design
Teacher Created Materials had well-established visuals for their brand that we had to adhere to during the UI phase. We established a few new rules for the brand guidelines and designed the templates accordingly. The feedback we received from Teacher Created Materials stakeholders was overwhelmingly positive.
WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD
Our team developed a whole new way for Teacher Created Materials to approach their product taxonomy that was fully vetted through the feedback we got directly from their core customers. Their new design offers a scalable facetted search function that serves all of their personas equally. As of this writing, the site is still under development and will launch Q1 of 2014.