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Studyportals | Research Methods

A tool which helps UX designers select the most suitable research method in each situation.

CONTEXT

During the second year of my bachelor, I did a 20-week internship at Studyportals, an Eindhoven-based company which provides an online education choice platform.

CHALLENGE

Create a solution to help the UX team at Studyportals decide which methods to use for which kind of research case, to get inspiration and verification.

ROLE

This was a side project which I carried out on my own, under the supervision of my mentors. Since the end users were my colleagues from the UX team, I included them frequently —for brainstorming, testing sessions or whenever I needed any kind of feedback— in my project.

Desk research

I started this project doing desk research, meaning reading a lot of UX research books and articles that my mentor and some coworkers suggested. 

 

Once I had enough knowledge, I started editing and completing a Word document about a selection of research methods. I got feedback and iterated on it a total of 4 times.

The content of this Word document would be the content of the tool.

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The Word document I worked on.

User research

To empathise with my users, I conducted five short interviews with the objective to:

• Find out users’ opinion on the content of the Word document.

• Understand how users wanted the visualisation.

• Obtain suggestions from users and use these as inspiration.

 

I opted for interviewing my colleagues because it seemed the fastest way to empathise with them and also because I could clarify ambiguities with follow-up questions right away.

Define

From the interviews, I was able to define the requirements for the visualisation:

 

• Have a categorisation that enables filtering the methods. 

• Follow the company’s brand style.

• Be aesthetically pleasing. 

• Have as little text as possible. 

• Be interactive.

• Be an easy-to-update tool. 

• Have an overview that helps comparing the methods.

Ideate

Once I had clarity on my users’ needs and requirements, I started ideating.

 

For the ideation, I decided to do individual brainstorming, since this is a technique that always gave me good results, and I felt comfortable using it. After a discussion with a colleague, out of 12 ideas obtained during the brainstorming sessions, I selected 5.  

 

To choose a final idea, I arranged a meeting to have a discussion with my colleagues, followed by a sticky-note voting session, which was the most convenient convergent method for my users. The ideas regarding classic filtering or tags were the most appealing for my users. In the end, I decided to use classic filtering, because is the same system used in Studyportals’ website, and I wanted my tool to be as similar as possible to it.

Results of the sticky-note voting session.

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Prototype

I decided to start prototyping the tool using Sublime and my (very basic) programming skills, to deliver a working product. You can see the initial prototype here. However, as my limited programming skills were narrowing my design capabilities, I eventually decided to continue prototyping in Sketch. 

 

Prior to creating the icons for the research methods, I asked the UX designers which mental picture came to their minds when they thought about the different methods.

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Users’ mental pictures for each method.

Test

To test my prototype, I showed my colleagues the different versions for the visualisation and let them interact with it. I took their feedback and discussed which and how to integrate it in the tool.

Final deliverable

©2021 by Mercedes Mendaza.