For Sale at CMU: User Experience
As a final project for a user-centered research methods class, as a group we decided on a problem prevalent across campus. We decided to focus on the “For Sale @ CMU: a Facebook group for buying and selling within the CMU community. We decided to conduct the research in three stages: Exploratory, Generative, and Synthesis.
Exploratory Research: Google Survey
Generative Research: Think Aloud/Task Analysis
Synthesis Research: Empathy and Affinity Map
1. Project Introduction
As a group, we brainstormed different problems prevalent among students and faculty at Carnegie Mellon. We determined to focus on the Facebook group of For Sale @ CMU
We started by looking at the overall capabilities of the group and Facebook’s interface for the service.
2. Problem Identification
At this stage, we looked at issues already prevalent to us without user feedback
3. Stakeholder Map and Territory Map
Used different maps to figure out the scope of the issue and all the different stakeholders within the community of FS @ CMU
4. Exploratory Research: Google Survey
Primary research was done online through surveys to see if there was a specific area/statistic that stood out that we could focus on with future explorations
5. Generative Research: Think Aloud/Task Analysis
Invited users and non-users of For Sale at CMU to complete different tasks on the interface. As they attempted to complete the different tasks they described the process they were going through as well as the problems they ran into.
Participant One: Infrequent User
Confusion over price of item due to the layout of interface
Multiple items are listed with a single price (price will often be listed as free)
Participant Two: Non-member
A lot of informational noise
Different search bars causes temporary confusion
Confusion over condition of item as well as price
Participant Three: Infrequent User
Didn’t know if item was sold or not
Concern over condition of item
Commented that the interface of Facebook was familiar — FS @ CMU is easy to navigate
Participant Four: Very Infrequent User
Confusion over prices
Commented on organization of the page and the order in which items are listed
Posts are not organized in chronological order from post date
Difficult to find the same post again after searching for awhile on the page
Participant Five: Frequent Seller
Grew frustrated with how the seller presented the prices for an item
Complained about the way that posts are organized because buyers don’t see the most recent items posted
Buyers assume that unsold items have been sold since they’ve been posted for awhile
6. Synthesis Research: Empathy and Affinity Map
Created an empathy and affinity map to figure out an intervention to solve some of the issues of For Sale at CMU
7. Intervention Concept
Our final solution for the user experience of For Sale at CMU was to explore an idea for an app that was connected to Facebook, so that if messaging and looking at the profile of the seller/buyer through Facebook is more convenient, the option was available.
We also considered the idea of changing the interface of the group within Facebook desktop to cater more towards the buy/sell process.
Wireframing the Intervention
Login Page: Requests information to verify affiliation with CMU
Home Page: Shows suggested items with predetermined categories on top for ease of access
Item Page: Displays item condition, Model number (if applicable), and the method of pick-up
Seller Profile Page: different ways to contact as well as pay the seller, see reliability of seller from previous buyers
Messaging Capability: Using Facebook Messenger to contact sellers so both buyers and sellers are able to see the Facebook profile of the other person, predetermined phrases are given at the bottom to expedite the purchasing process
8. Final Poster
Final Deliverable was a poster that showed the results of our research process.
I had a lot of fun using my experience both as a graphic designer and product designer to complete this project. Not only that, I was able to go through the whole process of identifying a problem, conducting research, and then creating an intervention. Bridging the issues that differed user to user in the affinity map was my favorite part of the process because through that process, we were able to find the concept for our final solution.
At the end, designing a final poster in which our entire research process was displayed was a rewarding conclusion to the project. Looking at the process we went through from exploring more of the app to actually creating definable issues from each of our users allowed me to realize the problem wasn’t just black and white.
Looking back, I would have liked to explore more on the possibility of still remaining on Facebook but changing some of the aspects of a buy/sell group’s interface. If given more time, I would have liked to take advantage of the community already present on Facebook but alter the organization as well as the interaction of buyer to seller. Finally, I would like to have created more high fidelity mock-ups on InVision that really demonstrated the user’s interaction with the completed prototype.