User Experience Design and Strategy
“I am not your user,
but I do know where to reach them”
User Experience Design and Strategy
Redesign of www.advertiser.ie
In 2012 the website for the Galway Advertiser
required a substantial update.
Several new e-commerce products had been added to the company’s digital strategy. The site needed to help users navigate through these new interactions.
Our new design had to accommodate increased
editorial content as well as new promotional spaces.
The main business goal was to funnel traffic to new revenue streams including the Classified Ads and an online Deals website.
I sketched some rough ideas highlighting the potential revenue areas important to the senior stakeholders.
We had to find a balance between the competing interests of the newsroom and the sales office. This revision also needed to showcase content opportunities including video, audio and Social Media as well as additional display advertising.
The initial sketches were converted into wire-frames to present to management in order get agreement on the main layout and content decisions.
With limited development resources we had to resist pressure to jump forward and begin coding pages. The interactive wireframes aided stakeholder consensus.
The final designs were then mocked up with Photoshop to communicate the visuals to our developer.
The changes allow a more structured delivery of content, and promotion of the other products, as well as hosting innovations such as live property auctions.
As part of the ‘HCI’ course on Coursera I developed a concept for an App called ’LiFE’. The app allows users to manage different social media, and other content streams in the one place.
Quick sketches of users in action
The course required students to carry out
research and need-finding of ideas.
I decided to look at heavy users of smart devices
and document any problems they encounter.
I observed several friends and colleagues who
spend a lot of time on their phones or tablets,
and who in some cases have more than 100 Apps.
Seeing how they struggle to organise these into subfolders I decided on a concept of displaying information from different Apps in one location.
Problem and solution illustrated
From here I storyboarded two scenarios
to help illustrate the problem and potential solutions.
I sketched scenes showing users struggling to
access specific information in a hurry.
Final screens options being tested.
The LiFE app could help mobile device users quickly access social media, and personal updates.
A user can set preferences for Work, Home,
Play as appropriate to the location and time.
Click here to see the LiFE Prototype
Usability issues needed to be highlighted.
The Advertiser had contracted out the
development of their Classifieds website.
I felt the resulting site had some major usability issues
and requested that we run some testing with
real users to spotlight the problems.
We identified important metrics to track,
for example ads placed as a percentage of visitors.
We then created key tasks for our test subjects,
such as placing an ad, or finding a specific item for sale.
We arranged 4 students for one hour each as our testers. It was important they were unfamiliar
with the site and therefore unbiased.
Finally we did a test run in-house to check the screen recording software and finalise our script.
Users struggled to find search options.
This video shows how all 4 users missed the vehicle registration auto complete when
placing a car for sale ad.
The button next to this field is labeled ‘SUBMIT’ and afterwards the testers said they ignored this as they thought it referred to ‘submitting’ the finished ad.
The study gave us a great insight into the processes and problems a typical user encounters.
Areas thought to be working well, were found to be complete blinds spots, and not at all intuitive.
Major problems were identified such as
language, naming conventions, button locations,
input fields, menus and visual layout.
As well as the over all site structure.
Following this I went on to mock up several revisions
of problem sections, showing how an alternative design might improve the user flow and overall experience.
Alternative screen design and notes showing
problems revealed in usability study
View the Usability Test results
Galway Startup Weekend – ‘ARROW’ App
In November 2014 I took part in the first every
Galway Startup Weekend. The weekend involved pitching ideas and forming teams of Designers, Programmers, and Business Developers.
Over the next 3 days teams went on to,
develop validate and present their start-up ideas.
Storyboard showing user journey
Arrow is an App designed to help travellers navigate through airports, by using their flight information
and utilising iBeacon locator technology.
Arrow will guide them to their gate,
and other facilities, while also keeping them
up to date with realtime flight information.
We created a Persona called ‘John’ based on a
typical business traveller who might use the App.
The Persona focused our team, and over the weekend, we constantly asked ‘What would John do here?’.
Early sketches working out the screen navigation
I sketched a walk-thru of a typical journey ‘John’
might undertake to his gate, stopping at
shops, restaurants and other amenities along the way.
Over the weekend we also validated our idea with research and contacts made in the Airline
and Airport businesses.
We also investigated the idea of a revenue stream from our product by using push notification from
shops within the Airport.
Screen shots and a user testing our app.
Using InVision we then took our concept and created a working prototype to present at the final pitches.
This allowed us to work through any sticking points and finally showcase a clear vision of how our product could work in the real world.
You can view our prototype here.
and team Arrow finished 3rd!
Usability • Analytics • Customer Discovery,
PR • Social Media • AdWords
ALL is a family startup based in Galway. Enda and Valerie Dodd have developed an online learning platform, which helps Autistic children acquire language skills, and learn to speak. Their sons Conor and Eoin who have a severe form of Autism, they both work full time with Enda building the platform.
The company is growing and I came in to consult on the usability of their website and help with their overall strategy of customer acquisition and growth.
Enda and I spoke at length about his family's Autism journey, and their success, teaching their sons to communicate using Disney.
Over the next while we formed a shared picture of who our potential users are. We looked into the types of families that we could help, where they are, what they do, and how to reach them.
Website Heuristic Evaluation
I noticed some obvious problems with the website usability. So the first job was to carry out a Heuristic review. This also gave me a chance to walk through each page, as a user might. I noted the individual violations, and rated each 1-5 in terms of severity, giving us a priority list of fixes to get started with.
Streamlining the User's Journey
Our main business conversion metric is a user filling in a form and contacting Enda. This is his best way of assessing a child’s suitability for the programme.
The form for a FREE assessment took visitors through a cumbersome shopping cart. I felt this was putting users off and the analytics confirmed many abandoning the process.
We simplified the form and placed it more prominently on the homepage, and alongside the popular blog pages.
Speak the user's language
We also decided to change the overall tone and language to be less clinical and more personal. We began to understand how the language of our users was centered around their child’s problems. For example parents tended say “my child is not talking” rather than saying “my child is non-verbal”.
The website was not explaining their product clearly.
Also their own family story is very compelling and we wanted to convey this better. We included more videos in a redesign of the home page, giving visitors a better insights into how successful the program is and how it works.
The Strategy - We help every family (AdWords)
From the outset we agreed that KidsSpeak would help every family where possible. We used Facebook and Twitter as our social media channels, focusing on the family story and especially Conor and Eoin and their amazing progress.
Families would be a different stages, from those with young kids still seeking a diagnosis, to older children with recognised problems.
Our ecosystem is coordinated delivering a singular message. The landing pages, Keywords and Ads were all designed to answer the different questions these parents will have.
We are refining our processes, and seeing better click through rates, also the number and quality of the leads generated is improving.
Entrepreneurship • Project Management
• Customer Discovery • Startups
• Idea Validation • Presentation Skills
Digital Skills Academy - BS Hons. Degree, awarded 1.1
Covering - Project Management, UX Design, Leadership and Management, Start-Ups and Lean Methodologies.
For my final project I pitched an idea for the entrepreneur track.
PlanitDaily is a platform that allows users to read news articles paying for them individually rather than subscribing to each publication. We formed a 3 person team, and developed our product towards the final presentation.
The Business Model Canvas
To explore and test our concept we used the The Business Model Canvas. Our canvas helped us explore many theories within this proven framework. It drove us to test them against the customer and business requirements. The canvas evolved over the project's life, and it helped us focus on PlanitDaily as a whole concept, as well as getting down to building a product.
The problem: Connecting the publisher and the reader.
• Publishers are struggling to monetise their News content.
• Readers can't easily access content they want behind paywalls.
To identify our customers and what they might looking, we 'got out of the building'. We conducted face to face interviews asking people about their general media habits and preferences.
We wanted to know what they read and why, also we explored
their levels of trust in different media brands.
Interviews and Personas
We built personas based on these conversations, and these guided
some of the major decisions and pivots during our project.
For our final presentation video we wanted to show our journey, and the key decision points along the way.
We wanted to demonstrate how our own perceptions changed, how the discovery process showed us a truer picture of what users and media owners wanted.
This helped shaped our progress and pivots.
You can watch our presentation video.
We created and user tested our
prototype with InVision.
You can find us here @planitdaily
Usability • MockUp • User Journey
Recently I consulted with a startup developing technology which will allow secure transfer of data online. This company are developing a two-step authentication solution, allowing purchases to be made online directly from a bank account. Eliminating the need for a credit card or a third party such as PayPal. Changes in European financial legislation has opened up opportunities for new companies to be the link between consumer, vendor and the banks.
This company are exploring some of the areas in which their solutions could be commercialised, such as financial transactions and e-commerce.
User purchase journey
My contribution was to work out some possible user scenarios, and mock them up to show how the front end might work over the underlying technology. These were to help the team flesh out some of the future directions they would take.
I took the existing user experience of a regular purchase on Amazon, using the standard card payments. From this I recreated a similar user journey adding this new payment solution, and using Balsamiq Mockups showed a work through demonstrating a mock transaction and their alternative secure payment process.
Education Solution • MockUp
Never Stop Learning is a concept for an online product to help students improve their writing and language skills as they progress through different subjects.
The problem was identified by a college lecturer who found that school kids were coming to university without the necessary level of written English to progress to the top level of this course.
How it works:As the student works on assignments for subjects such as Geography or Economics.
They can also improve their writing skills. The system helps the with tips videos and examples of how to write better. They can input their assignment text and see any errors or suggested improvements. They can also go deeper and look at online videos of superior writing and more complicated concepts of expression.
You can watch a video of our Balsamiq mockup model here.
Someone asked me recently
did I have a pen?, I said
View my work on Behance
User centered, customer focused.
Giving the User a voice helps focus teams
on resolving the 'Fashion versus Function'
issues within each project.
Planit Daily - Concept product allowing a user to consume news one story at a time, via metered payments.
Some wireframes from our redesign of www.advertiser.ie
Airport Navigation App
Galway Startup Weekend - Helping travellers to navigate airports based on their flight information. Quick sketches and rapid prototyping.
Usability testing for our website
www.classifieds.advertiser.ie you can see the results here.
My storyboard and LiFE - Concept for a Social Media management tool.Back to Top
Originally trained studied Graphic Design, I have worked extensively in Media and Publishing.
Someone asked me recently
did I have a pen?,
I said ‘What colour?’
View my work on Behance
The Who? What? Where? How? Why?
Story board to focus on what recruiters look for.
Working out site structure and sections.
And some initial concepts for visual layout.
Refining the storytelling process for my work.
Developing the final sections and content.