Timeline: Nov 2019, 3 weeks
Deliverables: New mobile app concept, Branding
Team: Self-directed, with feedback from mentor and peers
Role: UX/UI Designer
Tools: Sketch, Illustrator, InVision
Design a mobile iOS app that helps researchers manage their workflows and encourages team science for the organization.
Medical researchers are busy trying to save lives. Often, at the same time, they’re juggling grant deadlines, manuscripts in multiple steps of process, upcoming presentations and talks, all while managing multiple members of the research team. The business world is run by project management software, with a huge market of management tools designed around project-based goals. These traditional project management apps, such as Trello, Asana, and Monday, are designed for a different workflow and are unnecessarily complicated for an academic researcher.
Market Research / Subject Matter Expert Interview / Survey / Empathy Map / User Persona / Competitive Analysis
To begin conducting secondary research I gathered and analyzed existing trends, data, and insights to learn more about the Academic Research industry.
Open science is the movement to make scientific research (including publications, data, physical samples, and software) and its dissemination accessible to all levels of an inquiring society, amateur or professional. Open science is transparent and accessible knowledge that is shared and developed through collaborative networks. It encompasses practices such as publishing open research, campaigning for open access, encouraging scientists to practice open notebook science, and generally making it easier to publish and communicate scientific knowledge.
What do Academic Researchers do?
Academic researchers are responsible for conducting studies into various different aspects of life, with the eventual aim of developing a more in-depth knowledge of the subject. It’s all about using new research techniques, developing studies into untouched areas of life, and giving us a better understanding of the world in which we live. Typically, academic researchers are employed by universities or colleges. The work itself is usually carried out as a personal project or alongside other academic tutors.
To quickly gain an understanding of an industry that I am not a part of, I recruited a subject matter expert, Dr. Lauren Colbert, Assistant Professor & Principal Investigator at MD Anderson Cancer Center, to answer logistical questions in order to provide guidance at the beginning of the design process.
In order to better understand the specific users, I created a survey with both qualitative and quantitative questions to send out to a number of participants via my subject matter expert.
I received 35 responses from researchers across a large variety of highly recognized institutions including Harvard, Stanford, and MD Anderson Cancer Center, and over 20 unique fields of study.
The survey can be viewed here.
Based on the survey answers, I wrote the individual observations on post-its which were color coded by participant. From there, I could find common threads in order to discover insights to define the needs of Academic Researchers.
• They are often unclear on the status of their work because of disorganization
• The current management methods are not effective in increasing the pace of progress
• They wish they could collaborate more openly with other relevant researchers
• They waste time with too many different tools to manage their projects
• One source of truth for visualizing the status of their projects
• A tracking tool that caters to research projects in order to motivate team members to increase productivity
• The ability to communicate openly with relevant potential collaborators
• The ability to consolidate the number of tools needed to accomplish their daily tasks
Based on primary and secondary research, I created a user persona of a typical Academic Researcher that would use my new app. The fictional user, Ellen, helped to inform an app map, task flows, and a user flow later on down the road.
I compared the strengths and weaknesses of 5 of the apps users mentioned in the survey results. While these are not currently in the exact landscape as the app I’m creating, they are being used by Academic Researchers for similar tasks. This helped me to understand what users are expecting from project management apps and what we can learn from investigating how other companies solve problems and speak about themselves.
Full competitive analysis research can be viewed here.
POV & HMW Questions / Brainstorm / Business & User Goals / Sitemap / Task Flows/ User Flow / Low Fidelity Wireframe Sketches / Mid Fidelity Wireframe / Usability Testing / High Fidelity Wireframe
I used the research findings to develop “point of view” and “how might we” questions to be used as thought starters for a brainstorming exercise.
I spent around 10-15 minutes brainstorming possible solutions for each HMW question. The idea here was not to find the perfect solution, but to generate ideas quickly that could be designed for testing.
• Build and maintain a customer base
• Monetize the app
• To decrease time spent performing management tasks
• To increase the efficiency of her research
• To encourage Open Science
• To have clear oversight of her team and projects
Based on research and the development of the fictional user, Ellen, I developed a high level organization of key screens needed for usability testing. With the app map as guidance, I was able to see how the app will be organized and maintain consistency of information architecture throughout the design.
I created 4 possible task flows for the users to inform the wireframes for testing.
I created a a possible route for the user to use the new feature to accomplish a variety of tasks. In this version, I show key action and decision points in the project management process.
Based on the outcome of the ideation process, I began to sketch out the specifics of each screen needed for the user to accomplish the given tasks.
Mid Fidelity Wireframes / Usability Testing / High Fidelity Prototype
I conducted think aloud moderated testing with 5 participants to observe their interaction with the prototype.
• How would you create a project board and assign tasks to team members?
• How would you check the status of a project and provide feedback for a teammate?
• How would you find similar projects in order to collaborate with another team?
Using my finding from my usability testing I used post-its to assign a color to each participant. I was pull out key pain points in order to revise my prototype.
• Users did not feel that the “project page” was a comprehensive overview of the status of the project
• There is inconsistency around the order in which users create their projects
• Discover icon is not obvious
1. Include tab with task status on the “project page” with individual screens for each task
2. Let users create a project without filling out all form fields
3. Replace lightbulb icon with a more recognizable “search” icon
The name for the new app, Curie, was inspired by Marie Curie, The renowned physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, is the first person and the only woman to win the Nobel prize twice.
The branding was designed to represent the assigned adjectives: clean, clear, fresh, Intelligent, innovative, trustworthy. The logo itself is an an abstraction of a scientific form that could be seen through a microscope.
The greatest challenge of this project was understanding a complex industry comprised of extremely intelligent individuals, in a short amount of time. I learned how to gather relevant information and rely on my user research to inform my decisions. Because of the complex and specific nature of the subject matter, the information architecture was extremely important in the success of my usability testing.
• Build out additional screens
• Continue to test and iterate the feature