Designing the browsing experience
My second round of interviews was very much helpful in helping me prioritise the information architecture of the Wastevine homepage, my goal was to find out how students search for and categorise materials. The user we’re designing for is: A designer-maker seeking to reduce waste in their work / studies. The goal that the app is designed to meet is: To find relevant, cheap and sustainable materials for use in prototyping and design.
I undertook moderated user testing of the original Wastevine prototype app. It was harder than I imagined to conduct a cognitive walkthrough, I chose this method to gain an understanding of how the user would identify the current features and intuitively browse. However since the current prototype is sparsely populated and unfinished I needed to guide the participants’ through potential actions. I was able to ask questions that answered my research goal, the participants came up with the following insights:
My current research is focused on the user of the Wastevine app as a browser and buyer. However one of the key elements of the app is that users can sell materials, the app is populated by user-generated material listings. Alex originally envisioned Wastevine as a platform to connect designer-makers to exchange and share materials with a vision to reduce waste in the prototyping and design of material-based design practices. We discussed that in order to have a wide selection of items for browsers, the app should also be open to businesses – fabric shops and material suppliers who sell sustainably-made resources. So the ‘users’ of the app extend wider than the research group we’re focusing on right now. In order to prototype the listing feature within the time limit I have now, I’m going to create a persona based on one of the students I interviewed who had an interest in selling / recycling their leftover fabric.
At the moment the wireframe I created for the homepage lacks a clear journey to list an item. This was pointed out by my tutor, who reminded me that although I’m prioritising the buyer journey in my prototype, I should still include a clear direction in the design for the secondary journey.
Yep, not so obvious is it.
So I’m planning on moving this icon down to the bottom bar with a written label, making it clear as an important feature of the app.
Below you can see the updated version of the hompage, with the ‘sell’ button in the bottom bar, joining the information hierarchy as a key action, available from any page.
Next stage of prototyping
The next stage will be to test this initial prototype on my user group, I’m going to design two journeys for them to test, as both buyers and sellers. This type of early testing is called formative testing (Measuringu 2022), it will help me to validate ideas as I move through the prototyping process. In particular I will be testing the ease of completing the key actions of the app – buying and listing a material.
In line with guidelines from Maze (Maze 2022) I will conduct a pilot test with one of my peers to identify that my intended journey and directions make sense, before moving on to tests with the user group.
Usability testing should cover realistic actions that users will take with your product to help you detect usability problems and see if your product is easily understandable.
Taking notes from Maze’s guide on user testing, I have defined the following objectives for this round of testing:
“See if a user can figure out how to search for a material and purchase”
“See if a user can find how to create a listing to sell”
“See how users find personalising the homepage”
Next week I’ll update my journal with the planning and results of my usability testing.
‘Formative Usability Evaluation’. 2022. [online]. Available at: https://measuringu.com/services/formative-usability/ [accessed 19 Mar 2022].
MAZE. 2020. ‘What Is Usability Testing? A Complete 2022 Guide’. Maze [online]. Available at: https://maze.co/guides/usability-testing/ [accessed 19 Mar 2022].