UMBC- Department of Information Systems

A smart and efficient education platform to accelerate 

the academic information

Overview

The Department of Information Systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County is one of the reputed branches in Maryland state. This course is designed to make students learn computer systems from the user’s perspective. 

Role: UX Designer, Usability Analyst

When: Jan - May 2020

Methods and Tools: Sketch and Marvel

Practices: Competitive Analysis, User Analysis, Task Analysis, Persona Development, Storyboarding, Prototyping

Teammate: Xinran Zhang

Process flow of the project

 

Department of Information System's original website

Understanding

Document review

The content presented on the site is small in size. It lacks in image and font size ratio. There is no consistency and proximity maintained on the website. The image and text ratio are poor. It disturbs the user while navigating through any section on the screen. There is a chart on the website which explains what students need to do to meet the requirement of the course. The image of the chat is a blur as compare to the aesthetics of the remaining website design. It does not match the site color and fails to describe the goal. The language used on the website is very formal and understandable. But it is too informative where users do not have much time to spend on reading. It forces the user to navigate through each content and then reach their goal, which is not fair. There are a few links where the user will find a lot of information. This will lead them to stop visiting the website.

Competitive Analysis

The Information System department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore Country is built as a branch of the UMBC’s official website, therefore it has a high resemblance in both architecture and visual design with other departments inside UMBC, which makes analyzing other department’s site that inside UMBC as competitor less efficient to conclude into results. Take that into account, the competitive analysis will be focusing on the same department’s site outside of the University of Maryland, Baltimore Country. 

5

websites, 

elicited by 3 critics

 

User experience, information accessibility, maturity in visual design

Our findings-

  • Create an easy, intuitive way to present information

  • Avoid textual information overload

  • Clear separation between each content

  • Provide both visual and textual cues for the user

  • Adding more audio or visual effects helps to attract applicants

  • Making separate instructions for applicants in different states (internationals, visiting scholar, transfer and new applicants)

Research

User Analysis

We came to the following range of people/clients who use websites and have connection with department.

 

What do students and faculty members feel about the current website?

8

Participants

In the process of contextual inquiries, the users were requested to carry out tasks of their choice using the existing website. This process was carried out in an environment where the users were comfortable. The purpose of this study was to understand what trouble the users were facing and which tasks they could do easily.

Unable to recall the images

Students frequently recalled the images that were present on website. Out of 12, 3 people remembered the images and information located on website. 

Inefficient communication tools

Students are unable to find the communication tool and lot of students and faculty members do not use the messaging system offered by department.  

Inefficient navigation system

Accessing course content and admission requirement inefficient. Students complaint that they have to navigate on various pages and have to look for courses and the organization of courses content makes it hard to find the information

Long informative sections

60% of surveyed students and 40% of faculty  find it hard ti read the long informative sections. Students have to request professors regarding the information about the department. 

Faculty Engagements

A significant number of complaints came from site structure, but the failure of faculty to update the research page.  

Persona Development

Personas

Task Analysis

Based on previous findings, we have learned that the main purposes of the site firstly are for program applications (both learning the requirements/information and guidance the user to the application portal to apply). The first primary goal could be breaking down into two sub goals in general—information presentation and application navigate.

User flow for Department of IS website

Heuristic Evaluation

The IS department website contains a large amount of information and the previous developer tried to solve this by removing part of the important content, providing a link to larger integration UMBC systems so users still will be able to search but will no longer be inside the IS department system. Even though this is a low costing/economic solution, it's at the cost of user experience. Users will have to spend more time on learning the new system and doing the search all over again. 

 

Hidden Information

Information Overload

Oversimplified page

Unaesthetic page

Small button

Undesirable content

Inconsistent color usage

Grid alignment

Visibility of News Section

The significance of search bar

No content on research page

Confusing links

Highlighting main events

Lack of information on home page

No search bar in FAQ section

Use of white space

Storyboards

To implement the participatory design, we addressed the problem to our participants through storyboarding and by showing the original website. We took two main usability challenges which narrow down our solutions by describing various suggestions and opinions regarding the website. 

Storyboard ideas

Usability Testing

High level findings

The home page, program page, admissions page has all spotted usability problems that could be damaging to the user experience.

  1. User 1& 2 has both pointed out that there are navigation issues on the home page.

  2. Despite the navigation problem that occurs at the home page, other usability problems are not severe and do not impact the user accomplishing the task, which could be easily fixed

  3. It was mentioned by both participants that the categorization of the programs in the navigation section is missing,

  4. Participant 1 mentioned the “more information” section from admissions should be specific, and the tuition list is missing.

Solution

A companion that sides students in academic progress

As a department website, organization should provide students with the information they need with as little friction as possible. But students engage with this academic tool every day, so it should do more than just inform.

 

This redesign is built on the idea that website will act as a helping hand to students. Along with giving students the support and information they need during each semester, it will help them progress in their classes and seek data about department. 

Onboarding Model

Welcome Screen

As The welcome screen gives a new experience to the students and tells in detail information about the sub majors in Information System Department. It briefly tells about the department and takes them to the dashboard. 

Dashboard

The department dashboard ranges from Program to people which means students can search from various academic stuffs to faculty members

User Guide

Learn more about the sub menus of each department.

Prototype overflow

The overflow map provides the significant structure of the screens where students can check their daily schedule on Department website

high-Fidelity Wireframes

Interactive Prototype

Reflection

The UMBC- Department of Information System website underwent the analysis of eight usability study methods that brought various results. From competitive analysis to heuristic evaluation to that of usability testing we arranged participatory sessions with users, who helped us to evaluate the issues and brought it into a new design for the website. Studying for the UMBC Department of Information System website gave us a different perspective to study the recommendations and believe in a sense of reliability and persistence. The redesign has successfully improved the usability issues that existed in the current website and despite there are few suggestions from the user comment that needs improvement, the redesign has been a success in severing major functionalists which the site if for comparing with the old design.

Poster

The poster provides information about design process and tasks undertaken to implement the new structure of UMBC's Department of Information System's Website. It includes the step wise work flow and detailed usability findings.

Takeaways

How did it go?

Creating a design system

Redesigning IS Departments website from start to end pushed me to create whole new design system; an on going onboarding experience and several core pages.

It was incredibly rewarding to work on a problem and create solution for university's website that my classmate and faculty use it on daily basis

End of the semester experience

I would like to give better end of the semester experience to the students and newly upcoming students who interact with the website. I would also like to explore how my new design has helped them to fetch the basic information about admission page and course requirement

Are you a design geek, a pretzel lover, a movie buff or a foodie who likes trying out new cuisines? If yay, do get in touch! ✨

© 2020 with 🥨 Savani Shrotri