After reviewing the old information architecture and with the increasing new features in the platform, we had some questions about how would users set them into categories. Could users go directly to what they’re looking for? Were they get lost in our structure? Were text labels straightforward enough for them to understand?
Methods used for the redesign:
Card sorting is a well-known method for IA design that allows participants to group and put settings in an order that makes sense to them. Through this process, we can have a peek of a user’s mindset. It also helps us to see which category names are used, and not used.
With the qualitative user tests, we could see how participants would navigate our mid-fidelity prototype for accomplishing tasks and how many potential traps were in the proposed structures.
Participants’ reactions are very valuable to us. Sometimes participants thought they successfully completed the task, but in fact, they failed. That helped us understand the real problems of the proposal.
Card sorting session
We decided to take a hybrid approach, since there wasn’t a lot of already defined namings or groupings. In it groups of 5 people were split into teams and each session took about 40m. To give them a bit more context, there was a small user story for each topic.
Some of the guidelines for the participants:
- Organize the topics (cards) as a team into each category (pink sticky notes).
- Look at one topic at a time.
- Come to an agreement as a group, as to where the topic belongs to.
- Do NOT create or change topics.
- Can replace or create new categories (blue sticky notes).
1. Is it from the production’s or mine?
The user actions and admin actions clearly weren’t connected to each other. Differentiating between them was important to our users. During the sessions users found more intuitive to separate one from the other.
2. Go with the flow.
People were look to the experience as a whole, once they started looking at the topics they started to group them not only by the categories that they seemed to belong, but also following the production workflow. Eg. I have a site, so from here I need to create a project and after I want to add some people inside that project.
3. Label it again.
We should always be careful with using technical terminology. Some of the topic and category labels weren’t quite clear for the participants, only after giving a user story/context related to the topic would participants start to understand.
The most complicated topic groupings happened inside the project. Groups formed inside the project were messages, team and documents.
After gathering all of the feedback from the card sorting sessions we started to do some mid fidelity prototypes. From those prototypes we wanted to assess which of the 3 prototyped navigations are the most easy to use and easy to access.
Make it easy to use:
- That people can easily find what they need in the navigation;
- That the navigation is intuitive and the labels are meaningful;
- From the side navigation options, what should be more intuitive:
- To detach your crew member navigation (top navigation) from the admin navigation (side navigation);
- To keep everything in one place (everything goes on the side navigation).
Make it easier to access:
- That all menus are at hand and that it’s easy to change between pages;
That the time spent on the navigation is low.
1. Mega menu with all the actions available at once.
2. Side and top navigation with the admin and user actions sitting on the side.
3. Side and top navigation with the admin actions sitting on the side and user actions on top.
- Mocked three prototypes to be presented to users;
- Described several tasks that we’d like them to undertake on the platform;
- Presented the prototypes in a randomized order, so that we wouldn’t get invalid data from user tendencies to perform better on later tasks and prototypes.
- Used qualitative data approach.
There was an increase of response time on the side navigation compared to the mega menu. Users usually took a lot more time to find the information that they were looking for on the mega menu, which they found it was quite overwhelming. They found some of the labels to be confusing because they were actions instead of nouns. They really liked the idea that the menu could be collapsed to utilize the space.
- 6/6 people found the sidebar to be the easiest to use.
- 5/6 people found that the the separation between my menu and admin menu made the most sense.
Participants found the language create record to be quite hard to understand. They didn’t realize that it was to create a new crew member. Most of them clicked intuitively because the plus icon was there to help.
Suggestions for created record: contributor (industry term), user, profile, collaborator.
Actions and nouns mix didn’t seem to work out well. Eg. Find and Pay as an action implied that something was happening if you were to click on it. Suggestions for find: source.
Suggestions for pay: review.
Changing permissions on the person’s profile seemed to be the most intuitive place for it to happen. Two of them did go to the project settings.
Participants didn’t actually knew what crew summary was. It was hard for them to make a decision when trying to find all the crew members between crew summary and master list.
Half of the participants were looking to send an email from manage messages intuitively. The other half were already aware that you do that from lists. Also manage messages label didn’t felt like the correct term.
Suggestion for manage messages: messages.
Participants were intuitively saying that they would create the camera department group first in the master list, to be able to send a message.
Assumptions vs Reality
The project labels and actions were participants struggled the most. Once we started to separated “Manage” into “Manage” and “Team” it really started to help them find things with ease.
Undoubtedly, “Manage” and “Team” were not connected to each other, the differentiation from team actions to actions performed on documents, contracts and forms had to be emphasised.
Participants also found that “Messages” should be directly under project, “Messages” didn’t made much sense in any of those other groupings and they wanted be able to access it quickly.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. I hope this gave you a peek into my design thinking and how I rationalize my decisions, as well as the way I work. Please leave a like or share to show your appreciation.