Poppy Wyeth User Experience Designer

Oxford University Press Case Study

In Summer 2016 I worked at Oxford University Press (OUP) on a responsive workflow application that would be used by education institutes worldwide to help users manage people, classes and learning assignments to OUP digital content within their educational institute. In addition, it provides a centralised hub and Single Sign On for all OUP content platforms making accessing content as easy as possible.

My role during the Inception phase was formed of three parts:

  1. An initial heuristic review of the current design
  2. Quality assurance of the UX design for MMP (minimum marketable product) including the wireframes and site map
  3. Planning and conducting end user research

Heuristic Review

I carried out a heuristic review of the current design of the enrolment tool using Jakob Nielsen’s 10 general principles for interaction design. This was to identify at a high level any areas that needed to be revisited in the design, and also identify areas that did currently cover the heuristics. This allowed the client to understand areas for improvement that they could focus on.

Quality Assurance

I worked closely with the UX designer to determine an appropriate information architecture for the current design, and following this put together a site map template that could be populated with the pages that we had in the solution. The template was put together in a way that would simplify the UX solution for developers to understand and estimate for build, but also provide a way for the design team to understand how different areas of the system fitted together and find areas that had duplicated functionally or journeys that needed reworking. It allowed the design team to think about the system from a new perspective and therefore think about complex areas more deeply than they had before.

Initial structure of site map produced with post it notes

Site map developed in Omnigraffle into template

As the requirements were being finalised by the Business Analysts, I was able to quality assure the wireframes that corresponded to each feature and provide suggestions of updates and identify gaps. These were graded by urgency as to whether they needed to be resolved in time for the developers to estimate the effort in building the system, or whether it could be done during the additional design time we had during the elaboration phase. I assured that the wireframes had the correct fidelity and annotations to provide the developers with full documentation to work against their agile and iterative engineering approach.

End User Research

Oxford University Press had not had much opportunity in the past to conduct any user research, and it was important at this stage in the project to ensure we understood the needs of our users. By engaging with end user audiences we could then feed insight back in to guide the design and test assumptions.

I put together a research plan which contained advised immediate research activities as well as a long term plan with further research phases (including competitor analysis) and how they could feed in to the design of the MMP product.

Phase one research activities included a business origami session to create a user community map and a set of user interviews which would inform a set of personas and key user journeys.

Business origami session

I facilitated a workshop with stakeholders in the project to understand the ecosystem for the tool, including all the people involved and the ‘as is’ process versus ‘to be’ process once the tool is introduced. The stakeholders were actively involved in the workshop by picking paper ‘origami’ pieces representing people, places, artefacts and systems and placing these on a canvas, mapping out the ecosystem.

This canvas was then formalised in two User Community Maps, one representing the ‘as is’ process and one the ‘to be’ process, which highlighted the differences and what shift in interaction would be happening when the tool was rolled out. This diagram was then used by the project team when thinking about the different users of the system and how they fit together when making decisions about the design and build of the tool.

Conducting a business origami with stakeholders actively participating

A small part of the overall canvas that was produced

User interviews

Having completed the User Community Map we had an understanding of the different users of the system and then could prioritise who we wanted to speak to as part of our user interviews. I came across a challenge to get access to real users at this particular point of the project due to the summer holidays with staff and students in the UK not being at school, therefore it was decided that we would instead talk to internal staff who could act as proxy users of the system. These people were recruited based on their previous work experience or if they were in close contact to particular users of the system due to their role within OUP. Users that we could not get hold of for this phase of research were noted down for the future phases.

I wrote a field guide which contained semi-structured interview scripts tailored to the appropriate user roles.

Interviews were conducted over a few days and were filmed for reference. The notes and recording were then analysed to synthesise themes that came out of the research as well as produce suggested improvements of the design, proto-personas and user journeys, which were presented to the stakeholders.

User interview set up with recording equipment

User interview analysis and synthesis with post it notes

Conclusion

I was able to support the design of the system ensuring quality of wireframes and documentation and provide the client with living documents of User Community Maps, Research Themes, Proto-personas and User Journeys that could be used to inform future design phases as well as a long term research strategy. The system is currently being built.