Goals

What I was expecting to accomplish.
REGAINING CONTROL

I wanted to empower users to take control of their academic lives by simplifying and helping them track their duties.

ADIÓS ANXIETY

The academic lifestyle is stressful and difficult. I wanted to help alleviate the stress by helping users to properly
manage their lives.

CENTRALIZING EVERYTHING

I wanted to create a centralized  experience to connect both students and professors to help them to accomplish their most important tasks.

The problem

And why it's relevant.

The current platform used by students and professors has problems in many of its layers. The lack of transparency makes students unsure about their deadlines which increases anxiety. The very problematic notification system increases paranoia and make the platform untrustworthy. Such online environments are so hard to setup most teachers simply give up, making student's lives so much harder. You can read the full project briefing here (Portuguese only).

Challenges

The road is never a straight line.
NEW YET FAMILIAR

The new platform has to solve complex problems yet it has to be familiar enough to increase usage.

TIME constraints

I had a project deadline and many academic duties my own. So time managing was a constant battle.

APPROACHING RESEARCH

Professors had little to no interest in the project which forced me to find smarter ways to do research.

User research

Understanding to create.

I started by making a research plan to clarify why I would make research, how I would do it and what were my expectations and what was the hypothesis I wanted to confront. Next I present the methods I choose to use. You can read the research report here

Analyzing reviews
What people think of the LMS they are using?

I read online reviews about 6 different LMS  to recognize familiar patterns of delight and pain. By doing so I was expecting to conjecture what are the most frequent problems users face when trying to manage their academic lives.

Conversations
Talking to real users about their problems.

I've had conversations with 9 different students. No plan, no script, just a friendly conversation. Although not rigorous method, I believe it actually helped to build a better perception of the problem-space by connecting with real users.

Interviews
It's time to formalize the questions.

I crafted a specific script  to obtain more information to prove true (or false) my initial hypotheses. I was able to interview 4 different students and asked questions like: "If your LMS stopped working right now, how would that change and impact your daily life?".

Online survey
Gathering data from more students.

I used Google Forms to gather even more data. In total 23 different people answered the survey. I only asked questions I was sure I could use the information to help design a better solution.

Insights

You did some research. So what?

Every insight and information collected was used at some point to guide the design process. I wrote a report on what I’ve found and assembled all the information and statistics together. You can read the research report here (Portuguese only).

IMPORTANT TRADE-OFFS

The trade-off between customization and complexity was not well defined.

Unbalanced
Target audience

Students are significantly more tech-savvy than professors.

POTENTIAL FOR PROFESSORS

Professors have a lot to benefit from using a good LMS but they don't seen to comprehend that.

TARGET AUDIENCE DEFINED

Assistants are an important part of the educational ecosystem I was planning to build.

ORGANIZATION IS AN ISSUE

Every user mentioned how they needed help with organizing their schedules and tasks.

COMMUNICATION IS KEY

LMS allow professors to communicate with huge amounts of students simultaneously.

NOTIFICATIONS

Notification features can be either lifesaving or life destroying.

HOW IT HELPS STUDENTS?

LMS helps students understand their tasks, schedule and other academic duties.

Personas

And the user spectrum.

I created personas to help with the visualization and assembling of the information gathered. There are many possible archetypes of students and professors so understanding this spectrum helped me to prioritize certain patterns of behavior I would design for.

Gabriel Lima, assistant.Silvia Machado, the enthusiastic professor.Alana Silveira, student.Carlos Martines, the old school professor.

I also created visual ways to see the research like te one above.
I found it to be particularly helpful since it helped me to visualize overlaps between the main users. Most elements were omitted for simplicity.

User stories

Translating finding to features.

I needed to translate all information gathered into actionable pieces that could be visualized as features in a product. This was first achieved by using the method of User Stories. This method helped me to prioritize what was most important.

Card sorting

Exploring the IA.

The card sorting exercise was planned to help me understand how users perceive the relationship between important parts of the product. This would greatly help me later on creating the information architecture. In the end, 9 different people participated.

Sitemaps

IA comes to live.

I could now finally start thinking about the product's flows and information architecture. I’ve used Axure to make some experimentation. Some important changes were made during and after the testing phase due to inconsistencies that were not clear by the time I created the sitemap.

Sketches &
Wireframes

It's time to get real.

Sketching was a very important phase of the project. I tried to keep it as much as possible on low fidelity levels because production would be much faster and the rework necessary would be minimum.

User tasks

The logic behind the platform.

I defined the important tasks users would have to perform daily.
I aimed to create a mix of user flows with and logic diagrams. This kind of approach also helped me refine and think about each pages' inventory and how the system would react to different actions.

Prototyping

Creating users can actually navigate.

The prototype was created with Adobe XD. I intended to do a fully interactive prototype at a high fidelity level to avoid losing information due to the amount of user's abstraction necessary. Two prototypes were created: one for students and one for professors.

User testing

And the inevitable iteration right after.

I ran a few pre-tests with friends to make sure every flow was complete and to make sure the tasks order were logical. After I was ready I asked 4 students to help me test the prototype.

The result

And exploring some of the solutions I've found.

Users need to keep track of what is important

And that's something the platform should help with.

The system should not be only a passive medium but should actively help users to remember what is important and to keep track of their duties tasks. It also should always provide feedback.

Centralization that helps

Without unnecessary complexity.

Every activity of every course is displayed at the dashboard. Because the system is always providing visual and interactive feedback, the user is never lost so there is no rise on the complexity.

New yet familiar

Making something new that feels familiar.

Tables are the platform's visual language. That's because users are familiar with tables, they use it daily. By using elements that feel somewhat familiar to them, I was able to introduce new features and functionalities and simultaneously create a familiar workspace.

What I'd do differently?

Oh, boy. Don't get me started.

Assembling the solution and keeping track of every possible state for every possible element was a challenge so I wish I could go back and give this important aspect of the product a little more thought. Also, making sure the visuals were consistent was difficult, even using libraries and creating a style guide.

What I've learned?

Reflecting back on the project.

This was the very first project where I was able to properly apply important UX methods. I learned a lot about the process and about the methods themselves. I feel very grateful for the opportunity I've had of being mentored by a great designer. The whole experiencing opened my eyes to the difficulties and joys of creating digital products.

This was just a sneak peak into the actual process.
If you are interested, you can check the whole reasoning behind decisions and every derivable made on Medium.

Hailing frequencies open.

I'm always up to chat about life, the Universe and everything else.
lucianoinfanti369@gmail.com