Carnegie Mellon University_ Masters of Human Computer Interaction
Course: Interaction Design Studio (Ixds)
Team: Yousef Kazerooni - Sahra Boyle
One Education, an affiliate of One Laptop Per Child, came to us with a plan to create a hybrid device (tablet-laptop) named Infinity. Hivewire as a consulting and crowdfunding firm was tasked to help them set up a crowdfunding campaign to assess the market appeal of this new product, as well as raise money to support its production costs.
One Education had already built an introductory website for the Infinity, which they wanted to use as part of their crowdfunding campaign. Based on the information from the website and other supplementary materials the Infinity had a number of market differentiators such as:
- Having a sturdy structure and not easy to break
- Pre-loaded with educational programs
Assessments and my role
Before diving too deep into creating the campaign we conducted two sets of reviews: Tech review and Website review.
Conducted by Kris Olafson, HiveWire’s CTO was meant to verify and ensure the feasibility and the promise of the device from the technical standpoint.
The design schemata of the hybrid device conformed to engineering principles. The device was viable from an engineering viewpoint.
Conducted by Yousef Kazerooni (me), the UX researcher/designer was meant to analyze the usability and efficiency of the Infinity's current website.
My assessment of the website revealed the absence of a number of fundamental UX principles, which I will explain below.
Website review & analysis process
I had two objectives for my analysis:
- Find out how quickly and accurately the website communicates its message
- Find out how likely are the users to sign up for a bargain deal aimed at the first thousand customers
The techniques used in the following tests are based on my interpretation of the literature on UX Testing. The techniques are mostly drawn from the classic UX books.
5 second test
To surface the efficiency and accuracy of the website in communicating its message I used the 5 second test with 11 participants.
- 8 out of 11 participants were unsure about the website offering.
- 3 out of 11 participants completely misunderstood the offering, thinking of the Infinity as a new App or software rather than a new device.
- The image of a glowing interconnected globe in conjunction with a vague name the “Infinity” created a frame so powerful that it took the attention away from the actual device.
- The slogan was not descriptive in anyway to introduce the product and it’s nature.
I interviewed 5 participants to find out whether or not they would sign up for a bargain deal aimed at the first thousand customers.
Take a minute and look around the page, and then I will ask you a few questions.
- Can you tell me what is the Infinity?
- Which one of the following do you think this device is suited for? 1- Children? 2- Parents? 3- Computer geeks? 4- Low income families?
- Would you recommend the Infinity to someone you know? Why?
- Can you tell me who/what is One Education and what is special about it?
Summary of my observations:
- 2 out of 5 participants thought that the Infinity was a toy.
- 5 out of 5 participants were confused about who exactly the device was suitable for.
- 3 out of 5 participants considered Infinity as a children’s only laptop with very limited features and capabilities.
- 3 out of 5 participants were not willing to recommend the Infinity. They questioned the reliability of the product.
- 5 out of 5 participants had trouble finding out who/what One Education was and the difference between One Education (the company) and the Infinity (the product).
Based on the user testing findings I noticed five main problems with the website:
- Lack of clarity about who the target audience is
The following chart reveals how the content displayed on the above snapshots tries to appeal to completely separate audiences, sometimes within the same sentence.
- The website confuses potential "end-users" with "customers"
It is questionable whether any website that sells a computer needs to address children, since, even if the children are the end-users, it is ultimately the parents who make the decision to purchase.
- Heavy use of technical terminologies and features without mentioning their benefits
Even when the content is clearly targeting parents (...your child needs to truly explore and create digital media.), the use of an expression like “creating digital media” assumes that the parents have a certain technical savviness. However, it is likely that tech-savvy parents, who tend to be wealthier, will opt for the already established devices.
- Lack of unified narrative
The story of “the Infinity” was told in scattered pieces, so that it was unclear how One Education and the Infinity were related to each other.
- Important information were very hard to find since they were buried deep down within long pages
Both the landing page for the Infinity and the “Our story” page were very long. In long pages the use of adequate headings can greatly, enhance navigation. But since the website headings gave little information about content, it was difficult for users to locate the information they were looking for.
My review of the website was included in a document that was communicated to One Education. The ensuing discussions led HiveWire to halt the crowdfunding campaign until there is more research done on the potential customer base for the Infinity.
It has been six months since I left HiveWire. In my last conversation with HiveWire, I was directed to the new One Education website. It has now overcome many of its initial challenges, and most importantly has a clear customer base that it is targeting.