• Eric Chia

Coursera UI Design Capstone Project - Group Study Application

As the final milestone to complete my online course on User Experience Design offered by University of Minnesota on Coursera, I worked on a group project with 2 other students to research and design an application that helps students in group study sessions. The research project took 8 weeks in total (including team formation and peer evaluation), and we had to complete the project from research and ideation to second prototyping.

The course facilitators assigned us to work on researching and design a group study application. For the research topic we zoomed into the process of gathering resources needed for study sessions.

In total we interviewed 6 participants (2 participants from each of us) to understand their process and pain points of gathering resources for study sessions. Prior to the user interviews, we drafted consent form sharing the purpose of the interviews and risks involved, and that participation is purely voluntarily.

Then we document our interview plan in detail - from the introduction of the interview and the questions asked to the conclusion of the interview, taking into account the time needed for interviews as well as how to dig more information from the participants to ensure points are not left out in the process of interviewing.

Thereafter, we did an analysis of the interview data to determine user requirements for the application design.

To produce ideas for the application, we went through a diversive thinking process to quickly think of 100 ideas within an hour that is related to the application.

Finally, we group and analysed the ideas we produced to shortlist 5 ideas that can meet the design requirements. Among the 5 ideas we came up with, we selected on to proceed to the prototyping stage.

Image showing process flow of user experience research and design
UX Research and Design Process

For the prototyping stage, we did it using Balsamiq, my teammate (Jan) did most of the UI set up and the rest of us contributed with the cognitive walkthrough and primary updates to the UI. You can see a demonstration of the prototype in this YouTube video below. And I'm proud to say that I was the one who narrated and did the YouTube video for the prototype.

We have also done some cognitive walkthrough and heuristic evaluation on the first prototype UI. Do note that heuristic evaluation is not common on prototypes (it's usually done on completed applications/ high fidelity prototypes) but due to time constraint and the nature of project schedule, the course facilitators have requested the students to complete the heuristic evaluation at this stage to let us have a sense of how it feels like doing heuristic evaluation.

Based on cognitive walkthrough, informal action analysis and (strangely) heuristic evaluation, and we created a second prototype for the application!

Note: Heuristic evaluation was done here as a practice, it's noted that it's usually done when the product is almost completed.

Using the second prototype, we also a user test plan, which included details of what questions to ask the user, how to solicite real & hidden response from users during the user test so as to fully understand how users behave and use the software.

So our team conducted user tests individually, since we are spaced far apart one another - I'm in Singapore while my team mates are in Denmark and Nigeria respectively. We found the following user behavior to be consistent across our 3 areas.

  1. When users sign up accounts on an application, they would be curious to check if they have given the right information in their account. This being said, the users we did the test run with went straight into their profile pages to check through the information they provided after signing up, even if they were presented with a dashboard which they can use immediately and working on the application.

  2. Users would expect the logout button to be present in the profile page. This seems to be a simple standard which was established across countless applications which we are exposed to on a daily basis.

  3. Lastly, the terms we use on the application is not just depending on cultural differences. Individuals do interpret the terms used in applications differently from one another. For instance, for both users I did the test with had similar education background but one user could identify Notes with personal notes taken by the user but the other user identified Notes with lecture notes given by the lecturer.

This concludes the entire specialisation I did on Coursera! Unfortunately, this project was not graded as the school could not afford the resources to continue supporting the project grading online. Nonetheless, I learned a lot from this capstone project such as using Balsamiq tools, recruiting volunteers for user research and testing, testing prototypes, collaborating with teammates from different timezones and refreshed my video making skills. The project is a good conclusion that allow me to put what I have learned in the specialization altogether.

Here's the certificate I obtained from Coursera, you can verify it via this link.

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