Client Understanding - Examtime

 LF interactive prototype internally tested 

LF interactive prototype internally tested 

Examtime.com is an online learning environment 
(now GoConqr.com) that wanted to provide users with a better experience introducing the 'Curriculum Map' feature. 

I worked at Examtime as UX design consultant for three months, in team with the PM, the developer and the CEO. 
The goals
of the Curriculum Map:

  • to organise schedule,
  • to upload material,
  • to add label and tags,
  • to build a community,
  • to share/view resources on similar topics
What: Research, Concept development, User test, Public presentations
Software: Balsamiq, Adobe Illustrator, Google Docs
When: 2013/14, 3 months
  Examtime product mapped down  to highlight features and connections between them

Examtime product mapped down to highlight features and connections between them

Research & State of the art

We started understanding Examtime and all its features. I needed to visualize (literally) the product, so I drew a map to visualize the apps and then the connections between them.
The map pointed out that the Curriculum Map didn't need to be a brand new product, but instead a simplification and a collection of existing features, in one unique page.
Data from user tests revealed that often people did not use all the available products simply because they didn't even know they existed or they couldn't reach them, and they got frustrated.
That feeling of frustration was clearly visible in the map as well, where the links were multiple and often pointed back to the same products. We suddenly realized that yes, Examtime was a strong product, but the user experience needed to be simplified.

The visualization of the features in one unique map helped me to get the core of the app and also allowed the client to convince himself that he didn't need to add a new feature, but to simplify and to group the existing ones.

Mind Map to highlight the features provided by the competitors

Competitors analysis

Among several outcomes, the analysis of the competitors confirmed the need of more organization in the Examtime product and also helped in defining the actions performed by the two main users categories:

  • students
  • lecturers

I personally needed to look at competitors also to clarify how the education sector works in Ireland. I was familiar with a different educational structure and I knew that the only way to provide a successful consultancy was by knowing the context of the app.

Personas and User Journeys created according to their proficiency with the product

  Analysis of the functions  in the Curriculum Map

Analysis of the functions in the Curriculum Map

Personas & Scenarios

The market analysis, cross compared with data previously collected, showed the need of focusing firstly on the students.
Therefore personas, scenarios and user journeys have been developed according to the students' level of proficiency with the product:

  • beginner user
  • medium user
  • advanced user 

Sketches & Wireframes

Since Examtime wanted to realise the new feature in few months, we decided not to spend too much time in defining pixels perfect outcomes, but instead to work massively with sketches and wireframes.
I weekly presented the results to the CEO and the PM, and we were able to define the content and a first design draft in a couple of months.

 Flows and content of the product

Flows and content of the product

Paper Prototype

Again, following the need of 'ship fast', we used paper and LF prototypes to internally test the Curriculum Map.
The CEO and the PM always tested them first, and then the employees acted as potential users.
My consultancy terminated at this stage, but I believe Examtime carried on more users tests and then launched the new feature, as it is now visible from the current version of the website.

  Sketches and Wireframes  developed with the team

Sketches and Wireframes developed with the team

  Paper Prototype : The CEO and the PM used to test the prototypes and to scribble their comments on them.

Paper Prototype: The CEO and the PM used to test the prototypes and to scribble their comments on them.

What I've Learned

Being immersed in a startup environment was really exciting and I learned a lot both personally and professionally. Everything you do in a start up will be shipped and tested almost in realtime, so I felt both pressure and excitement at the same time. 

The group was quite small at that time (50 people max) and this allowed me to work directly with the developers and the product manager, fact that speed up the process quite substantially. 
The CEO was quite busy but still wanted to follow in person the development of the new feature, since it was his personal idea and he had tried several times in the past to launch it but never succeed due to more urgent matters. Because of that I had to weekly present to him and to a small team the results and often I had to take on board quite harsh and direct feedback. 
This experience helped me in develop my presentations skills and the confidence in my ideas, both invaluable skills to have in my pocket.

  Paper Prototype  : with feedbacks gathered during internal testing 

Paper Prototype: with feedbacks gathered during internal testing