UX DESIGN + PRODUCT DESIGN

Support finder

Role
UX Designer

Year
2021

Intro

As part of the fourth module of my MSc in UX Design, I designed a new product for third level students with disabilities using universal design principles. The project spanned four weeks (part-time) and comprised primary research, prototyping, and user testing.

Research

Because I was tasked with innovating a completely new product, research was critical. Methods included a call with support services from IADT, interviews with current and past students, reviewing a day in life youtube videos and online articles on disabled students experiences in university.

General frustrations experienced by students fell into six themes: exclusion and isolation, getting around, managing their schedule, empowerment, and accessing support.

Burden of applications

Knowing how to apply for support is an issue; applying at all is also an issue.

Adapting to college

Many disabled students are so busy trying to adapt to the circumstances that they simply don’t have time to apply for supports.

Assessment

Cannot afford assessments needed to access support.

Burden of advocacy

Doesn't know really how to self-advocate.

Normalisation of struggle

Doesn’t always identify as someone with a disablity.

Fluctuating needs

Most needed help when least able to apply for help, at other times didnt feel the need and put it behind them.

Fluctuating needs

People need support most when they are least able to apply for it. and when they dont need it they dont think of it.

Awareness

Anxiety when starting college caused by not aware of supports that can help them.

Awareness

Anxiety when starting college caused by not aware of supports that can help them.

Identified user journeys

General frustrations experienced by students fell into six themes: exclusion and isolation, getting around, managing their schedule, empowerment, and accessing support.

User steps of not availing of support:

Track condition

Overwork

Neglect health

Get stressed

Go into downward spiral

Scrape through college, but don’t fail

Underperform

Fail

Try again

User steps to securing support:

Encounter an obstacle to accessibility

Frustration and disappointment and anger

Look for a way around

Look to find another route

Report problem

Feel disheartened when the issue is ignored.

Personas

I created three personas that captured edge cases and common users. Considering edge case users ensured that the app would work for a larger number of students.

Michael
Suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and migraine.

I’m not sure what support could do for me, most of the time im pretty good, but when i have flare ups in my condition I end up falling way behind on college. My condition is just something I have to get on with.”

Goals: Find a better way of communicating needs to lecturers and figure out a way to work around their condition.

Worries: Has fallen behind college work ever since diagnosis and not sure if support can really help them, and doesn’t have time that could potetntially be waisted attending to support meetings

Frustrations: Currently recieving little to no support. College social and academic life is suffering as a result of condition.

Paula
Student with epilepsy.

I’ve recently been diagnosed with epilepsey and think I might be eligable for support but im not sure how they could help, or if I‘d just be waisting my time.”

Goals: Feel confident in college that they won’t fall behind and that they will be able to reach their potential.

Worries: Doen’t have time for waisting time talking to support meetings, needs to catch up on college work, has fallen behind ever since diagnosis.

Frustrations: Stressed out and needs someone to talk to about condition in college and making changes.

Michelle
Student support staff.

It’s a constant struggle to keep up to date with all of the srudents that we work with, unfortunately many do slip throught he cracks, or never come to us in the first place.”

Goals: Raise awareness amongst students and them access the best services for them.

Worries: Some students are slipping through the cracks and not coming for support.

Frustrations: Supporting each individual student takes a long time per student. Students new to support, often don’t see the value in supports available to them.

User needs statements

Andrea is a student who has chronic fatigue syndrome; She has to be mindful of how much she exerts herself in college but doesn't see herself as a disabled person. She needs a way to find out how she would benefit directly from support services and what exactly they are offering."

Paula is a student who has recently been diagnosed with epilepsy. She needs a way to learn about what supports could help her but isn’t sure if they could do much for her or how to go about it.”

Michelle, a student supports staff member needs a way to get more students to use and see the value in student supports, so that.”

Point of view problem statements

Students need to know the most accessible way to get across campus quickly when they are late for their next class.

Students need a way of managing their schedules and notes with their notetakers to stay in sync.

Students need a way of managing their schedules and notes with their notetakers to stay in sync.

Students need a way of attending college remotely and participating while other students attend physically in class.

Students need to know how much they will be able to partake in a society event to choose societies where they can sufficiently participate.

Students need a way of acting on their frustrations when they encounter an obstacle without awkward confrontations.

Students need a way of alerting support and lecturers when they fall behind on college.

Students need a way of recognising they need support and how it will benefit them.

Students need a way to prevent them from neglecting their medical needs while juggling college, their social life and their condition.

Product ideas

A few potential product ideas came out of the research to help all students, not just those with disabilities.

Society matcher
Match students with societies that they might enjoy.

Routeplanner and schedule
Help students make it to class, from managing their schedule to suggesting routes around campus or public transport.

1st year matters support
Raise awareness of supports available and how they can help students.

Issue reporting app
Report blockers and inaccessible infrastructure of barriers around campus and get them fixed.

Quick needs assessment app
Check what supports you might be eligible for and how they might help you.

Selecting a product to develop

The research made it clear that one of the largest problems was the people who need support but never had a needs assessment or didn't understand how support could help them.

I narrowed my focus to designing a product to check how support could help them conveniently. From the point of view of the college and supports staff, if they were able to know the number of disabled students and what kinds of supports they required, the college could apply for funding to put in place suitable infrastructure in anticipation of student needs.

To prototype the app, I needed to find a way of screening for disabilities that already existed and could be done remotely and unmoderated.

The Wahington learning needs screening tool was used to screen students for the likelihood that they have a disability and would be eligible for learning supports.

Central to the product is that it would alleviate students' burden of seeking out and securing supports.

Quickly check the needs form to check for suitable supports.

List of supports available, how they help, and who is eligible for them.

Get advice on things you can do to help and what to ask for.

Templates for letters/emails for self-advocacy and ask for extensions etc.

Set up and manage meetings with support.

24/7 chatbot to ask support questions.

New user journey for the app

Complete screening form with to get personalised suggestions.

Get results of supports for them.

Browse supports.

Read about a specific support.

Book a meeting with the college staff

App structure

The app is fairly linear. The home screen acts as a springboard from where users can delve into different functions. This creates forward and back navigation that is simple and straightforward.

Onboarding

Questionnaire

Home

Specific support

Chat

Templates

Notifications

Register

Meetings

Favourites

Prototyping

The design went through 3 iterations. Changes to the design were in response to findings in user testing. Throughout the design, iterations the architecture of the app remained much the same.

Early wireframe prototype

Halfway wireframe prototype

Final wireframe prototype

Visual design

The visual language is friendly, reassuring, simple to understand and accessible. These characteristics appeal to a diverse set of students, from cognitive disabilities to colour-blindness, to those with visual impairments.

The tone of voice is calming and measuring, whilst also reflecting some language that younger users may use.

Open source illustrations from Alzea Arafat.

Typeface

IBM Plex Sans is used as it is modern, accessible, and open source. Features that increase its accessibility include:

  • Double story lowercase characters.

  • Extra details on letters a, g, l and I make the characters more distinct and prevent confusion in users.

IBM Plex sans available from Google fonts.

Colour

The colour scheme is minimal and accessible. The choice of colour was to ensure clarity and accessibility for colour-blind users.

Blue
Rgba (1, 87, 155, 1)

Off White
Rgba (244, 243, 241, 1)

White
Rgba (255, 255, 255, 1)

Black
Rgba (1, 87, 155, 1)

Grey
Rgba (0, 0, 0, 0.7)

Yellow
Rgba (254, 152, 0,1)

Red
Rgba (211, 47, 47, 1)

Key screens

Home

Notifications

Templates to ask for allowances from staff.

Saved

Search

Questionnaire

Meetigns

Chat

Final prototype

The design was made up of modular components, making it flexable and scaleable.

User testing

The product went through three rounds of testing. Each test was moderated and conducted over Zoom—tests were recorded with participants' permission for notation later.

Testing order:

  • Read out adapted Steve Krug participant test script.

  • Background questionnaire to categorise the participant.

  • Asked participants to complete tasks one by one.

  • Asked participants to fill out a system usability questionnaire to generate a SUS score.

User tasks

  • Find out what supports you are eligible for.

  • Book a meeting with support.

  • Contact college support.

  • Get help to ask for an extension on a project

Testing results

In total, there were five tests conducted. Rounds of testing and iteration lead to a smoother, better-designed app, as issues became flagged and were resolved in theGet help to ask for an extension on a project.

System usability score
81/100

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