Traditionally film has always been from a director point of view of a subject matter.
When crafting user stories for UX, I often wondered where terms like persona, customer journey maps, it sounds like they were taking a page off from storytelling in filmmaking? When trying to present the problem in UX, I see a use of storyboards in to describe user problems or solutions in the customer journey map as a form of visual storytelling describing key events.
There may be some overlaps with UX and filmmaking in these areas.
Both Films and UX Design are trying to tell the user a story, through the product.
Both need to have an audience to showcase your final solution.
You gather user requirement and stakeholders requirements and figure out a solution.
There is an iteration and design phase for each medium
Both Processes are trying to communicate to the user
The only place where film and UX Design differ is that once a film is out it is hard to change after the audience reacts to it. Unless you re-shoot a whole scene again.
But with UX there is an chance to iterate based on user findings and feedback.
Are you thinking of doing UX as a Career? Want to make a switch but are unsure if the course is right for you? Someone emailed me to find out. Here is my reply.
Want to do UX? Career Switching?
Should I go to school like General Assembly, to learn UX?
Is it time for a Career Change?
Are you thinking of doing UX as a Career? Want to make a switch but are unsure if the course is right for you?
Recently I was contacted by someone interested to do General Assembly UX Course in his city, he email me asking what I felt about General Assembly UXDI course which I have completed last year (2016).
For this person, it was career switching from Marketing to UX, and he had quite a few questions regarding the course and job prospects as a UX Designer.
Hope the information compiled below can be of use if you are thinking of making a career switch.
Some points to Note:
My experience is from the SG Campus so it might defer but some general questions can still apply if you are considering a UX School. I am also relatively new to the UX field having come from a background in Visual / Graphics Design and some software engineering.
I studied studio art but not have a strong portfolio, but am still interested in studying UX, to become a “UX Designer”. What challenges will I face if I do not have formal design training?
Art or Design is not a requirement to do the course but it is helpful to know some basic Visual or Graphic Design, since it is part of UX. You will have to eventually be dealing with how humans interact with Graphical Interfaces so a basic knowledge of color theory or layouts and pattersn would be useful. The course covers basics of Graphics design and it is good enough to make designs for UX/UI.
Some classmates were programmers or financial consultants that do not have training in Design but were able to make recommendations, UX/UI prototypes with the limited design knowledge once they were through with the lesson.
What is the overall Course and Experience like for the GA UX Immersive Course?
But generally the courses are structured similarly around the globe. Instructors are picked from the local industry so that the teach would be able to align with what the industry needs.
At the end of the course you only get a certificate, is it enough to get a job? It depends on how much you can network and meet people in your area needing UX Design and sending out your resumes into the Job Market.
Personally I loved the teamwork and skills you learn working on projects with a deadline. You really have to learn to have empathy for the user and ask good questions to find the real problem.
We were tasked to write a blog for each project and document our process, which made me want to learn more about writing and communication skills which can be more important than just having Photoshop or Sketch skills.
Is the GA UXDI course a reliable method of entry into the UX field?
There is no sure path to be a UX Designer. Most courses only teaches the bare minimum on a subject. There is a need for continual learning and picking up projects or self-starting your own UX projects.
GA UXDI program is very fast paced they load a lot of information that is useful, but it is still surface level.
One plus side in getting into the industry, there was a job fair at the end of the course where each student will get to showcase their project to prospective employees. It was a good introduction to various startups or agencies looking to hire UX Designers.
How difficult is it to find an entry-level position or internship in UX/UI design?
The field is still relatively new here where I live, depending on the city where GA resides it can be very mature. But based on my observations most Starting-Out UX jobs involve some UI work or Graphics Design of web interfaces.
Mostly it depends on your portfolio to get the job. You have to keep searching for an employer to hire you, and a bit of luck in the job market.
How I ended up at General Assembly.
I was actually exploring doing a year long master program at Hyper Island, but felt that it was a bit too long as I was out of work in early 2016. I heard about UX from various websites and decided to check out an introduction workshop at General Assembly. I was intrigued and decided that a 3 month course was just about enough time to see if UX was a field I would continue to venture on forward.
The school is what you make of it, it is a good introduction to UX and digital. But it is not exhaustive enough to give you the skills you need to be an advance practitioner.
Some things you may want to think about before signing up for a course.
Why do you Want to Do UX? Do ask yourself, are you bored at work? Need a pay raise? Everyone has different goals coming into school.
What is your own End Goal? Is it graduate school? More in-depth design theory? Being a UX Practitioner?
What else can I learn besides UX? General Assembly made me write a medium blog and its one other key skill that I learned to brush up communication writing, and it made me better as a designer, which i am still going to improve it.
Most advice will get old, things change the course is being tweaked for every batch and like most school things upgrade Instructors come and go and life situation changes. What worked for me may not work for you.
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How do we put the National Musuem on the world map? The museum attracts a lot of visitors from locals and tourist abroad, but does it provide a good experience both offline and online?
Our client brief:
There has been a surge in Mobile Visits to the site.
Tasked to remake the website more responsive for mobile / tablet user.
Increase the site visit duration.
The National Museum on landing on their homepage has good layout and interesting features like an instagram feed and highlights of events happenings at the museum. But when trying to view the site on my iPhone it does not downgrade nicely to the mobile phone.
Looking at the Data of the site the Bounce Rate is realatively high 50% and the time spent on the site is about 1 Minute. It also validates that mobile usage is indeed up.
This was a good starting point to verify that the Museum has indeed more Mobile users coming to the site but they do not stay that long.
We looked at 3 other sites and compared NMS to them to see what features stood out and what features did not work so well. We compared Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Vasa Musuem and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Some things we found useful were the Banner with Time and infomation of the museum opening hours.
Good use of photos to attract users to the attractions.
Later we went down to the site to find out more on the museum. Spoke with some staff. Told us there were no more audio guides andmost tourist and visitors ask for it. We found a visitor using the museum app. She told us the discovered it after seeing a small icon on one of the exhibit displays.
There were School Tours conducted and Kids Activities, since it was the school holidays.
Summary of our visit findings:
Not Enough Signs for visitors, No Audio Guides. Different groups come to the museum for different activities.
Content Audit of National Museum Website
We listed down all the pages of the website and found that the content on the site does not seem to be well curated.
Our Content Audit Findings:
There is no apparent content strategy which we felt NMS needs to improve. A well planned content calendar allows users to anticipate events and bring about higher footfall/ revisit statistics. Eg. if children season happens every school holidays, make sure the content reflects that and draws the relation between the school holiday and the respective exhibit. The parents might then visit the museum because they have come to know that child friendly exhibits will be curated.
Card Sorting and Information Architecture
This round I used Optimal Workshop to sort some of the key labels, in addition to a manual card sort.
This round I used Optimal Workshop to sort some of the key labels, in addition to a manual card sort.
We were able to streamline their main catergories into 4 main ones.
Home, Visit, Whats On and About Us
User Interviews & Affinity Mapping:
After conducting a series of interviews offline and online, I realised that the Museum has become a place for people to gather an enjoy fun activities, there was an event for children to play at their playground. It host various events such as film festivals. Exhibitions has taken a back seat, as some patrons would go to the event first and consider the exhibitions if they have time to spare after or before their event.
Regarding the Museum Website Not many users we interviewed seem to use the website as it is presented as an information portal. It seems dated. Only if you know what event you want to go you will go to the website to find out about it.
Findings: Affinity Mapping helped us to see there were 2 kinds of users to the museum:
Passive Users & Active Users.
From this then we created 2 types of personas based on the Active and Passive Users.
Meet Patricia White a person who goes for events and knows what kind of events she wants. Her problem is she cannot find ticket information for events at the museum.
Meet Lydia who is a mom and she wants to make sure her kids gets exposed to Arts & Culture and History of Singapore. Her problems are she is unsure if the events at the museum are child friendly.
From here we came up with our Personas Problem Statements:
Defining Problem Statements
We came up with 2 Problem statements for our two personas
I can’t make bookings for events or exhibitions on the museum website. — Patricia
I find there is a lack of detailed information on events on the museum website. — Lydia
Customer Journey Map
To Further understand how our two personas experice the museum we create a Customer Journey Map to find opportunities to improve the User Expereince.
For Patricia: She wants to know if it is convenient to book tickets last minute tickets on the website?
For Lydia: She wonders if the Exhibits are age appropriate and if the kids will be engaged.
Incorporate ticketing purchase on website (Re-direct to sistic for payment gateway)
Implement a filter on the website, with specific filter options Date, Free / Paid and Age group. Show information on events pricing and availability.
Approach we took for our solution
Wireframing and Sketches
We went through a series of ideas for the prototype on the layout and look and feel.
We looked through our features list and used a chart to see what we can implement in this timeframe sprint.
Digital Prototype and Usability Testing
After we created a Digital Prototype we did some usability testing with users.
Some feedback we got:
Not enough information above the fold, we see a banner video it would be good to have some information there.
The filter catergory labels were not clear.
Labels if event was free or requiring a ticket were not clear.
We made the changes and iterated on these feedback.
The New Prototype journey: For Particia she can book a last minute ticket on the site. But her use of the site does not end there, on her way to the musuem she can go use the Map funtion to check traffic (via Google Maps) and Directions from where ever she is. At the event
We managed to help solve both our Users problems and needs and help the National Museum Website increase usage on their site by making it responsive, and more usable and useful to the user so they can have repeat visits to the site.
Project Timeline Planning
Scope was 1 year project plan if NMS awarded us the project we came up with a rough draft of 2 week sprints followed by 2 week development time.
We followed that we will use Agile Methods to iterate the design and production of the new website. We decided on a 5 month QA to test the site and leverage existing content there. As the site will have much changes it will need time to port the content to the new layout and track issues in the process and iterate.
Future Developments To put National Museum on the World Map
Overall by helping the two personas types we hope that by making the site more useful they will come back to the site via search to experience the museum online as a teaser and be able to sort out events for their needs.
Creating more media content: We were thinking of having some 360 VR tours on the site, but due to being unseure how to make the media and store and curate the media we did not put it into this prototype. I am not sure of the cost of production of VR media and the storage cost for storing such content.
We though through our experience of visiting the museum and found some Gaps in the Actual design of the how people get tickets.
We felt that for events that are free they can streamline the process by giving a sticker to be put on the visitor. A different color for Singaporean and Tourists. And the business can still capture the foot traffice by counting the amount of stickers given out as we will funnel the visitors still back to the kiosks to get the sticks. This helps eliminate the printing of tickets (Which is currently from SISTIC)
Users won’t have to search for the tickets in their bags or pockets and the security can identify them via the sticker on their shirts.
New User Flow:
We did a new user flow for this process.
Understanding and Sythesizing Data was the hardest part for me. I felt it took a bit longer to find users that fit the initial hypothesis.
Digital Card Sorting not that easy to administer, unlike manual card sort, but easier to sysnthesize information. Using Optimal Card Sort I was able to validate both the Manual Card Sort with the results. It is slightly more effective at compiling the results but some users feedback using the interface was more unintuitive than seeing a manual physical card sort.
Making the personas this round was very real to me as I got to practice crating the personas based on actual user needs. It makes designing the website easier as I remember who I am designing for.
It was useful to try and prioritize features before embarking on the prototype. It helps that the personas are always kept in mind when prioritizings features.
Usability testing although shorter than my previous project still was important as it helped us see what parts of the website were under utilize (eg. the header banner just showed a video) and where we can get more actionable use from the user, and where it caused confusion.
Making a project timeline and costing was not that easy. As it was my first time on how to make it I think this will come with more experience with working on more projects and seeing actual cost of making something.
Its 7 weeks past for this course. I feel I have learnt and applied much of the tools for UX in this project. I have a deeper appreciation for how important UX is for Offline Experience as well as online ones.
Tools and Method used:
Design Process Double Diamond
Customer Journey Map
Business Model Canvas
Sketching & Wireframing
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How to reinvent the app to stand out in the social space?
Based on the usability testing of the current app, interviews and short term recommendations we iterated our initial designs and did more usability testing.
Finding the Unique Selling Point of the APP
We found from users interviews, the “”Find Friends” function was not evident to users. There were two flows emerged that the users want to use the app for.
Finding Friends and invite them for Activities
Find Activities and Invite Friends
The reason users can figure out the values of the app is the current App’s userflows rather confusing to find friends or activities.
Current User Flow
Improving the Userflows
A new user flow for the App
Iterations on the Design
Onboarding Users to the App and asking Permissions
Initially in our design we wanted to grab all the User permissions and location after sign up but we found that if we broke up the flow and ask the questions in context of the tasks the user were trying to complete they complied with giving Permissions and locations.
Making the Profile Section more streamline to fill up.
Here we ask the user for permissions to get their location while on the map view. This when done in context of the user wanting to complete a task or in realtion to the correct screen users were willing to allow permissions.
Getting Contacts Permissions & Notifications
How we further Improved the App
We added a credit card filter so that users are able to find the best deals for their credit cards this is done when users are selecting an activity.
The Final Design for the Credit Card Promotion filter after iterations with users.
We added a map funtion to the Event / Restaurant Detail page so that uers can know how far they are from the activity when they plan to invite their friends.
Overall this was an interesting project where we have to balance the User and business needs of the app. I learnt a lot by doing usability testing and research and iterating the designs so that we can make a prodcut better for users.
Balance Users and Business needs
Approach We took. (Double Diamond, Process)
User Interviews (Find the behaviors of Users using social apps, Give Quotes here “I Don’t Want!”)
Heuristic Evaluations & User Test of the App (Overlap of Problems)
Suggestions and Recommendations (Short Term)
Iterations to the Design
How we further Improved the App
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It’s been a tiring 7 weeks that haves passed since we started on 30 May for the UX DI course. Many of us left our jobs to pursue a season of learning. I left 3D graphics to see what is UX all about.
There was excitement and sometimes a loss of understanding of what we were learning. Overall this learning journey is coming to a close for me. Currently we have finished 4 projects, now we are all assigned a client project to aid them in solving their UX problems.
It feels strange today I hear about classmates making plans for a change life will change for most of us. After this course most would be heading off into another direction. I briefly heard a convo in class, 2 students were pondering their purpose and meaning here on earth. While this course will not answer that now, it is a catalyst that is kic-kstarting some of our careers and bringing new insights into our lives (I hope)
I will miss some of the time spent here learning as I love to learn not just to gain new insights but in educating and understanding different things.
I feel that here at least in SG UX potential is really untapped I think many outside of the field don’t know what is UX and how to gain value from the work we do. It will take time to educate business about UX and even put it in the process right up front before a project starts.
While trends and technology may change, they underlying unseen UX Strategy will play a pivotal role to a ‘product’s’ journey. It may determine a product future success, but not all may see this return immediately.
How to build a better TV Viewing Experience on Mobile?
Our Choice for this project is Toggle a Mediacorp online video service. We focused to redesign the App to make a better viewing experience.
Tools and Methods Used:
Affinity Mapping (To Synthesise Research)
Axure for Interaction Design
My initial assumptions of Toggle is that its an online archival of news and local tv shows. However as I interview users on how they used it, their reply was that Toggle was heavily marketed to them for catching up on missed aired shows and they used it for that function primarily.
Good points about Toggle
Mediacorp has taken a leap to provide shows besides broadcast in the digital age in response to new competition from stream servics such as netflix or youtube. The landscape overall is TV is moving to digital mediums.
Other Metrics for Toggle
However things were not so good as we look at other metrics of the App on the App Store.
Metric data for Toggle from Apple Store and Google Store.
Overall the data meterics showed there were more negative reviews than positive ones on the toggle app.
Some feedback from users Interviews
Users are not happy about ads
Users commented that it was difficult to find shows even after they search for it.
App is slow and not efficient.
A user commented that the toggle website was generally more pleasant to use. He did not considered using the App.
We did a comparison of Toggle with other popular video streaming apps on features and business models. Some findings when we compared the app to other popular streaming Apps are that :
Easier Signup Process
Better control over the Ad Experience
Better search functions to find shows
Giveng Users suggestions on shows and other media
Micro-interactions to keep users engaged with the app.
SYNTHESISING the research
From her we crafted 2 Personas based on the Affinity Mapping of our user research.
For this project we crafted 2 Personas based off the user research and interviews. This helped us to create a hypothetical archetype of our users, to remind us of the user when we craft the solution.
Luke — The Live Streamer
Typical use of the app would be on the train as he is a busy business analyst and can only watch his shows after or before work.
His main frustrations is that he can’t find his catch up tv shows in a logical manner.
Jessica — Catch Up Serial Queen
Jessica’s main frustration with the app is the search results presented to her about her shows are not useful.
How can a persona can inform business decisions and opportunities? We take these Archetype as a reminder of how they use the app as we make refinement and improvements to our existing app.
Next were each persona User journey as our personas used the app.
Opportunities in Blue
From the User journey we could identify what gaps the Personas were having and there lies business opportunites for Toggle to engage or imporve the user experience over various touch points.
Findings from the User Journeys
Toggle has opportunities to keep users engaged with toggle such as when they go out to Google to search of shows Toggle can create a linkback from Google search results that sends them back into the app when they click on a show link
Findings and Solutions proposal
Old Toggle Hamburger Menu
Based on our findings of the User Research and Crafting Personas and doing A User Journey Map we came up with our Problem statement.
“Users cannot find the shows they are looking for”
We then proceeded to craft out
“Restructure and provide clear information about the content”
Some labels needed to be renamed as it was confusing and reduced the number of catergories and merged various information into the new catergories. We also borrowed some of the naming conventions used in the main toggle website for the app.
New IA After doing the changes
Wireframe of the new Toggle App
We removed the hamburger menu and replaced it with a navigation bar at the bottom for features users used the most.
We added a language switching drop down menu so that users need not go search for the show in a different language.
We made the search results more useful by adding a thumbnail to each show result shown.
Users were marketed by Toggle as a Catup-TV Shows app that feature was added to the bottom Navigation bar for quick access, based on our user interviews it was the most used feature of the app.
Usability Testing & Iterations:
We iterated 3 times based on usability testing, we changed the wireframes after each test.
Comments by Users from User Testing
Preferred to access content by Search
Preferred navigation menu to access content
Refine search was not accessible on page scroll
Expected language filters in search
Iteration of the search function before and after usability testing. Initally the refine search function was not easily found by users.
Final Solution Feedback
On our final test users were generally satisfied with the new prototype of the Toggle App.
A demo of the app prototype, to search in the demo Type “blue”.
Gamification of Ads Gamify the ads. or Preload Ads infront of the video. Don’t repeat the same ad twice. Since the viewing of catch up TV shows has been streamlined for user there is now a right opportunity to present ads as they will be less
Better Media Strategy Creating a better media plan of shows, can lead to monetisation of content. Mediacorp has a premium service that is largely not visible to the user. Many users in our interview did not consider subscribing to Toggle as it was marketed to them as a Catchup TV Service. If there is a better explanation of benefits of subscribing to toggle users may sign up and an added revenue stream will come through the app.
Consistency between mobile App and the website. We generally found the website of toggle faily easy to use and it looked great. It would be good to align the Moble and Web versions in Layout and IA so that users would not be lost in either platform. Other features we can implement is if a user watches a show on the website he can continue watching on mobile.
Approach we took to make the analysis.
Data Metrics Analysis, IA Comparisons, Heuristic Evaluation, User Interviews & Surveys, Personas, User Journey, Storyboard, wireframes and Sketching, Usability Testing.
We crafter a set of multiple choice and open ended questions for our users to see if we can get a sense if the general users out there in Singapore are using the toogle app or competitors app
This time round to gather user research we applied User Interviews and Surveys techniques.
Competitive Analysis & Heuristic evaluations
We used Jacob Nielson Heuristic Evaluations for this round of comparisons between Toogle and other video apps.
Personas & User Journeys
This all cumulated into our 2 Personas. (See above for other personas)
User Journeys — This helped us to see what kind of opportunites the brand can interact with the user at various touchpoints of the journey.
We constructed various userflows of the task our users would do in the app.
Wireframes and Sketches
As a team we did various wireframes sketches and selected the best one which suited the user feedback needs.
Project Management and Timeline
We used a combination of Agile and Waterfall methods.
Agile at the beginning as we were unsure of the scope of the project
Towards the end we switch to waterfall to task ourselves to deliver the project.
Trello was the hub of our project management system.
Lessons Learnt & Reflections
Not easy to get everyone on the same page. But having a team increases the chance for success as a team can check if I made mistakes. A team keeps our bias in check when coming up a solution it may not benefit the users.
Using Trello as our Project Manager, it helped keep everyone on track and see a big picture of deliverables. Morning Stand-ups helped to discuss problems and give quick updates on progress quickly before they escalate into the danger zone.
User Journeys and Personas
Crafting the personas were hard but the Persona tool help strengthen our userflows and design intentions. When doing wireframes it is easy to get carried away to design according to our own aesthetic.
User journey Maps were an interesting exercise to do after making a persona it helped us see the gaps in the user experience.
Overall having doing this project made me realise that UX needs to balance between users and the company stakeholders. You can’t go too far and make something interesting while ignoring the primary needs.
Retrospective for General Assembly UX Project 1 — Med+
How we can use the UX Process to Discover and Design an App in 1 Week. For this project I choose to design something for the Medical Topic. Med+ is an app that helps users to remind them to take their medications on time.
Summary of Tools and Methods Used
User flows and Wireframes
1. Starting Assumptions of project
I decided to do this ux project on the topic of the Medical theme. When starting out I made the hypothesis that my target users might need the following problems solved for them.
1. Getting an easier way to book medical appointments.
2. Help with reading medication instructions.
3. Finding specialist clinics easily based on the type of treatments needed.
2. Research Interview
I started making a series of interviews, I prepared a series of questions based on the assumptions.
Sample of Questions asked:
When you fall sick how do you go about seeking help?
How do you go about making the appointment?
Do you take medication, is your medication long term or short term?
When you first received the medication do they explain it how to take it? (or is it printed on the sheet?)
Have you ever forgotten to take your medications? (Why or Why not)
However as I progressed, the responses I had a series of different findings not related to my initial hypothesis.
3. Using Affinity Mapping
Using the affinity mapping process I started sorting out the user interviews into a group of different categories.
Medication Group list
Key Themes takeaways from the interviews
“I forget to take my medication, as I was distracted by other things.”
“I am confused with the order of taking medication”
“I just walk into clinics and not need to make bookings for my doctor’s appointments”
From the Affinity mapping some of the initial assumptions that I thought users might have were different from the answers. From this I did up a problem statement for the user.
Some users need to have a way to help them remember to take their medications on time.
I decided to focus on users who keep having trouble remembering to take their medications, as this problem occured quite a few times in the users I interviewed.
Users will need an app that can notify them on schedule the time they need to take their medications.
4. Prototyping Phase
Storyboarding the users journey to use the app in taking medication.
I decided to come up with a simple storyboard to visualise the problem and how an app solution will work for the user.
User Interface sketching
Refinement of Prototype
Finally I assembled the screens into a simple prototype using Invision.
I decided to check out snapchat a real time photo messaging app that has been gaining loads of traction thanks to articles like this. Curious to see how they get users onto their app.
The Login screen has clear call to action buttons.
So after a sign up page, next is the adding of contacts, snapchat being a social platform it wants to help users create an audience so that users will keep generating content.
After contacts are added Snapchat makes sure users get to know how its app works.
So before we can take photos Snapchat teaches us how to add friend’s snapcode and use the camera functions.
Overall Snapchat does a good job to introduce its platform and functions to new users. However it remains to be seen if content that users put it gets shared and propagate to other networks beyond our own contacts.
The easiest relationship database management system you can learn quickly.
For the longest time my usage of database systems have been limited to simple excel sheets. For more complicated operations you would need Microsoft Access or MySQL. Learning a new programming query language may terrify some.
I recently came across a relatively easy to understand database management system named Airtable.
Things I loved:
I loved how after signing up you are greeted with an interactive tutorial on how Airtable works. The App tries to teach you how to make a simple database through interactive tutorials.
Airtable makes sure you understand how relationship databases work.
There are user templates that help the user get setup quickly for different types of projects.
Things I did not like:
Data displayed in the App is truncated to the first few fields of data you entered. Unlike its web app where you can see a larger set of data for each field.