Case study: UX design course project

Challenge and role

Vestigo is a mobile application that allows user to learn about history in their surroundings. It was researched and designed as part of a UX design course offered by General Assembly in Chicago, and the final product was an interactive prototype of the application.

The design process

User research and persona

For this project I set out to solve a problem in a field I was very interested in: History in my community. I had an initial assumption that users wanted to find historical information about sites they were already at.

I set out to test this assumption by conducting multiple user interviews, drawing conclusions about current behavior and where the paint points lie. What I quickly found out was that users do not need help at the site. They need help finding the site in the first place.

Users need a way to find sites that fit the topics they are interested in. They don’t want to spend time sifting through results. One user told me: “I guess that’s the millennial in me, being to pick and choose exactly what I want.”

After user research I created a persona to guide the design of the application. My persona, Kate, is an amalgamation of what I was hearing during user interviews and what the typical user of the application would be.

Competitive analysis

After determining my problem statement I took a look at the competition out there. Some examples are History Here, Field Trip and Geotourist.

These apps do similar things but most don’t allow you to filter by topic area, or the map functionality is hard to use. Often they included irrelevant things such as restaurants and shopping.

After looking at those, I was able to map out what my application could do differently.

Feature prioritization + MVP

I then determined what my minimum viable product would be. I performed a feature prioritization exercise using a 2×2 matrix. I kept the axes very simple: Low to high effort and less to more desirable. This allowed me to choose the features that are the easiest to execute while also aligning with users’ needs.

User flow

Next was determining the flow the user through Vestigo. The central path shows the primary user flow.

At this time I also created the site taxonomy and sitemap, using the results from open card sorts, performed with potential users.

Wireframing and early prototyping

With the user flow done I started the design with a series of quick notebook sketches and thumbnailing.

Those quick sketches were then turned into low-fidelity wireframes using Sketch. Around this time I also tested some basic paper prototypes with users. After working with the wireframes I created an interactive prototype in InVision.

Usability testing

Now with a clickable prototype I was able to conduct usability tests. This involved multiple tests where I asked potential users to complete a task in the app, using a mobile phone with the prototype in InVision.

I quickly determined several areas where I needed to iterate on my design, to solve most of the user’s roadblocks.

For example, nearly all users were initially confused by my filtering system. A change to a “show only” toggle system solved the issues, as well as more direct labeling and more visible navigation.

Final prototype

Finally, we ended up with our final prototype. Here is a link to the final, clickable prototype in InVision:

As with any design process, there is room for more iteration and features. Further development will continue.