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Outside Wheaton Usability Study

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During the Fall of 2022, I conducted a usability study and small-scale redesign of my college's information management system and student portal InsideWheaton. I was inspired by my own frustrations trying to find important information on the platform. When I heard that other students also felt frustrated, I decided to conduct a usability study to learn how students use the platform in order to make it a more user friendly resource as a final project for a Digital Culture class.. 

I utilized the Human centered design process by conducting user interviews, user testing of the existing platform, design, and user testing of my platform. I sent out a google form to students to sign up for 30-minute google meets sessions. I had students talk about their experience using the platform and then had them attempt 5 tasks on the existing site. 

A remote user testing session with a student on the existing InsideWheaton Platform. 

During these sessions, I learned that the majorty of students learned how to navigate the platform over time or with help from others, initally feeling confused or frustrating trying to find the information they needed. Students cited issues related to visual design and information architecture as being prominent in their struggle to find what they need. Additionally, I asked students what they use Inside Wheaton for when they visit the site. Many students noted that registration and paying their bills were important tasks for them to complete when using the site. 

Data Graphs & Charts to Represent user frustrations and goals when using InsideWheaton. 

I started to create an information architecture for my version of the site to solve the organizational issues on the existing platform. The existing site had a long sidebar menu with lots of submenus, which users noted were frustrating to use. I brainstormed several organizational structures to later implement into wireframes of my website. I decided to use boxes with iconography, links, and titles on the home page to link to important information that students commonly need. This kind of design helped combat the issues students faced with finding what they need. 

Left: Hand Drawn information architecture flow chart 

Right: Finalized wireframe of my OutsideWheaton site home page and an office specific page. 

I actually built the prototype of my site using Wix website builder. I decided to utilize the same color scheme and branding that Wheaton College uses to create a cohesive feel with the existing brand of the college. Additionally, I decided to name my platform OutsideWheaton as an inverse of the existing InsideWheaton site. While my site isn't fully functional, my prototype of the OutsideWheaton platform allows for users to complete the tasks they would need to within my secondary round of user testing later on. 

Left: My Home Page of the OutsideWheaton Platform 

Right: An example of what a page for an on-campus office looks like. 

Finally, I conducted a secondary round of user testing sessions on my OutsideWheaton platform. I had several of the same users participate in my testing sessions for the existing platform and my own platform. Many students noted the clean visual design, helpful organization, and higher contrast of my iteration of the platform. I plan on utilizing this feedback to create a finalized and more user friendly version of my platform!

Check out the prototype for my OutsideWheaton platform here! 

A user testing session for my OutsideWheaton platform using Google Meets. 

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