This is a project I did while I was interning as an information architect and user researcher at a graphic design studio (CR Studio) over the summer. I spent about a month gathering user data and creating personas, user flows, IA's and around 60 wire frames.
When we were approached by our client she came to us with an idea to create an online marketplace for small-mid size business looking for design work to connect with designers looking for work. She came armed with only a few mock ups and a slew of creative and spontaneous ideas.
Her ideas weren't bad but it was clear that she hadn't thought of her particular user groups very much and was missing clear opportunities to increase conversion rate and connect with her users. An example of such an idea was a mock up of a home screen she presented that would only make sense to industry professionals (she came from a PR agency background) and designers, not necessarily to the small mom & pop shops she was targeting. She was ready to start final mocks and development, but CR looked to me to convince her to invest in some preliminary UX work.
Step 1: Convincing the Client
I had to convince the client why she wanted to invest in some preliminary UX research. This was done by walking through the drafts of her mocks with some preliminary personas and some heuristic evaluation tools. She was able to quickly spot pitfalls in the user flows, and thus became much more open to proceeding with user research.
Step 2: Competitive Analysis
After having secured some time and space for research, I began a competitive analysis of the market alongside user interviews. At first I was targeting small, local business, mid-sized business, and freelance designers. Later on due to time constraints and the incompatibility of goals and desires between mid-sized businesses and designers, I abandoned research on the mid sized business. This proved beneficial for the project in terms of creating a more fluid and simple user flow for designers that was easily reconcilable with the demands of the small business user group.
Step 3: Personas
I used the data from the interviews to create personas that would guide the design of the service from that point on and consolidated them with the rest of the team’s ideas of who the users were.
Step 4: Wireframing
Personas in hand I began wireframing and collaborating with logo and branding designers to create an identity and basic conceptual/mental model for the service ( we opted out of the shopping cart model as design can have very variable and intangible deliverables) .
Step 5: Prototype Testing
We had some good looking mocks and it was time for prototype interviews. As of now the project is unable to go live for certain circumstances but I hope it continues to grow and hopefully my work may see the light of day.