The Project Scope
MyDesignPath was developed as part of the CareerFoundry UX Design Course. The challenge was to create an app to connect experts with people seeking advice.
My goal was to focus on the UX/UI design job market to understand if there were uncovered needs and create a product to meet those needs.
The result was MyDesignPath, a career mentoring app focused on career advice for the design community.
The Context: The tech job market has changed a lot since the beginning of the COVID Pandemic. Companies have migrated to online business, and many professionals have transitioned careers to the tech industry.
This new reality created a high demand for UX/UI Designers professionals and increased the concurrence.
The Problem: Junior UX/UI designers struggle to get a new job due to the increased concurrence and high demand for qualified professionals.
The Project Hypothesis: Career mentoring with experienced UX/UI professionals could help junior designers to get their first job in this new market context.
The Solution: Design a mentoring app where designers can get career advice from experienced colleagues concerning preparation for interviews, resumes, and portfolio reviews.
One designer team
Who are the users?
The first things we needed to know to start our project were who our users were and their needs. We used mixed-method research technics like surveys, user interviews, and competitive analysis to narrow our users by profile, understand in deep their, and identify the tools they use for career mentoring.
We chose the survey, with closed and open-ended questions, because it is a versatile tool to filter the users by demographics and collect concise information about them.
We chose users from different backgrounds and experiences from online UX/UI communities for a more comprehensive view.
The survey goals were:
Identify the user profile concerning the job role, and desired position
Understand key points for career advice
Identify the most used mentoring tools
The survey results have shown:
The users are 50 % juniors and 50% experienced designers, not only juniors as we first thought
They need help to change jobs and upgrade the career
The most used mentoring tools were ADPList and Mentor Cruise
The Survey recommendations for the next project phases were:
Include experienced UX/UI designers in the user group
Develop two personas considering both group needs and goals
Redefining the Initial Hypothesis
The survey results showed we need to consider an important user group and their needs, the experienced UX/UI designers. So we reviewed our initial hypothesis.
New User Group
Juniors UX/UI designers
Experienced UX/UI designers
New User's Needs
Help to find the first job
Help to progress in the career
Experienced and junior UX/UI designers struggle to get new jobs due to the increased concurrence and high demand for qualified professionals.
What are the user's uncovered needs?
For the next step of initial research, we interviewed the users to gain a deep understanding of their needs.
The goals were:
Understand career mentoring advice needs and goals
Understand mentoring tool's positive and negative points and the why
The interviewed users were junior and experienced designers.
We used the affinity mapping technic to help organize interview data, cluster notes, and quotes and identify common themes.
Here is what we discovered:
The survey findings were correct: juniors and experienced designers need help to change jobs and upgrade the career
The most used mentoring tools were ADPList and the Mentoring Club
Users identify with mentors with similar career paths
Users need to know the mentor's location, job, and languages
Users need to set a plan and goal for the mentoring
The recommendations for the next project phases were:
Show the mentor’s career path, location, job, and language on the mentor's profile
What can we learn from the competitors?
Based on the user's most used tools and the market research, we chose two main competitors to conduct the competitive analysis.
The goals were:
Identify competitor strengths, weaknesses, and threats
Identify uncovered opportunities to solve user's problems
Analyze features, sitemap, and layout
Identity friction points and usability issues
We analyzed the competitors based on the SWOT Profile and usability, layout, navigation, differentiation, and CTA.
What problem are the users trying to solve?
The following step was to define the bases to guide our design decisions.
Informed by the previous research data and insights, we defined what problem the users were trying to solve and what were the user group profiles, setting the problem statement and the personas.
What are the main user groups?
After defining the problem, we gave life to our users by creating our personas to help us to refer back to our user's needs anytime during the design process.
Based on the initial research findings, we created two personas, the portraits of the two main user groups, experienced and junior UX/UI designers, representing their needs and goals.
What are the best paths and steps to help users to solve their problems?
In the ideate phase, we materialized the user's needs and built the design foundation using tools like the user journey map, user flows, and sitemap.
The user journey maps helped to visualize the user's path to achieve their goals, considering the context, behaviors, and emotions in each step process. It allowed us to identify opportunities and focus the design on users' needs.
After learning about the user journey, we defined the paths users needed to achieve their goals. Then, considering the three main paths and each step contained in it, we created the user flows determining the necessary app screens to attend user’s needs.
Sitemap and Card Sorting
After defining the paths and screens, inspired by the competitive analysis findings, we constructed the navigation logic and structured our web app with the sitemap. Finally, we tested the sitemap with real users with a card-sorting technique.
We used the hybrid card sorting technique to test if the structure and the pages make sense to our users.
With this technique, the user can choose given categories or create their own. It helped us to have a better understanding of the user's mental model.
Card Sorting goals:
Test the sitemap to check if the categories and pages match the user's mental model
Recognize patterns and logic in card grouping and categories users create
Improve the sitemap
Card Sorting Findings
Standardization Grid Findings
“Current Mentoring” and ”Past Mentoring” are often grouped in the "My Mentoring” category
“Mentor's Profile” was grouped 11 times at ”Mentor's Search Page”
Similarity Matrix Findings:
91% of users grouped “Current Mentoring” and ”Past Mentoring” together
83% of users grouped “Mentor's Profile” and ”Search Result Page” together
Add "My Library" to "My Account” and "Mentoring Calendar" to "Calendar"
How to translate the user's needs into actionable solutions?
After adapting the information architecture to our user's mental model, we moved to the next phase, giving form to the design by sketching the main pages and features the users need to accomplish their goals and transforming the sketches into more realistic app screens.
How do we know if the design meets the users' needs?
The next step was to test the app screens and collect user feedback to improve the app.
We chose to run a remote moderated usability test. This way, we could listen to the user's "out-loud" observations while navigating the app and better understand what could be improved and why.
The usability test goals were:
Test the main flows: finding a mentor, scheduling a meeting, and sending a message
Identify errors, friction points, and usability issues
Measure errors by severity metrics based on the adapted NN Group's scale
We used the affinity mapping method to make sense of all collected information and group the findings.
Usability Test Findings and Solutions
Classifying the issues by Severity
After congregating all the data with affinity mapping, we needed a tool to classify and organize it.
We chose the rainbow spreadsheet to list, select and prioritize the most severe issues according to the NN Group's errors severity metrics scale.
The test identified many issues, but we prioritized the five more severe ones due to time constraints.
Usability Test Issues and Solutions
Issue 01 - The language was confusing
33,33 % of the testers thought the expressions "Top Mentors” and "language” were confusing.
Solution 01 - Replace "Top Mentors" with "Know our Mentors" and exclude "language."
Issue 02 - The bottom menu icons need to be changed
100% of the participants understood the mentoring icon as a community icon.
Solution 02 - Replace the icon with a favorite, adding a description. Redesign the mentoring page, making it a place only for favorites.
Issue 03 - The search flow was confusing
100 % of the testers were confused with the filter order and state changes.
Solution 03 - Make the filters interactive.
Issue 04 - The calendar flow was confusing
100% of the testers hesitated when clicking on the days and hours. They had to click many times to finish the task.
Solution 04- Refresh the booking flow, clarifying the status change.
Issue 05 - The messages appearance order was incorrect
50% of the users noticed the messages were not in the expected order.
Solution 05 - Correct the message order of appearance on the chat page.
6. Refining the Design
After improving the mid-fidelity prototype with the user test feedback, we started the design refinement process using different technics and research tools.
The following step was to polish the design, making it more realistic. We created a style guide for setting patterns throughout the app.
The goal was to create a consistent design.
Iterating to improve
After set patterns and references with our style guide, we created a high-fidelity prototype and tested it again to check if there was room for improvement.
This time, we used different technics to achieve different goals:
Preference Test: we tested two versions of the welcome and login screens to check the preferred button's color and position
Design collaboration: we collected feedback from colleagues (also our users) about all app screens and what could be improved
Accessibility Checking: we searched for accessibility issues based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), focused on color, contrast, and typography. The goal was to improve the user experience for all users.
The Design Refinement Process
Below are samples of the design evolution throughout the project phases and iterations: low and mid-fidelity prototypes, usability tests, high-fidelity prototypes, preference tests, design collaboration, and accessibility checking.
After all the iteration rounds, the app looked like that.
The next step is to run another usability test, focusing on accessibility. The goal is to check if all the last modifications and iterations meet the user's needs and contemplate all users.
The survey showed the initial user group didn't contemplate the experienced UX/UI designers and their needs.
There was not enough time or budget to fix all usability test findings.
The usability tests detected issues with the expressions, the interactions on main flows, and iconography.
Low budget to do detailed research.
Working as the only UX researcher and UX designer is time-consuming and can generate a biased design.
We included the new users in the user group and designed two personas considering both group's needs and goals.
Prioritize the five most important issues based on high frequency and severity.
Search for UX writing and iconography references and redesign the app's flow logic, adding more interaction.
Prioritize technics and low-cost tools.
Ask for colleague feedback and access similar case studies.
03. Next Projects
Include more users on the survey for accurate results.
Plan more time to fix the errors and apply a second round of usability tests.
Make a detailed content and usability check before releasing the app's first version to test.
Find research partners and consider a bigger budget.
Invest time in preparation by doing secondary research and partnering with other designers.
The project contributed to my professional growth in many ways.
I went through the entire design process as a solo UX researcher and UX designer.
Using a mixed-method research strategy, I learned to apply different technics, identifying the right time and the goal to use them to reach a desired outcome.
The most challenging phase was the UI process, which helped me become a better UX researcher focusing my attention on accessibility issues and the importance of fixing them to improve the design for all users.