The whole collaboration with Geek Girls Carrots started in 2015 when one of the Carrots attendees moved to Zurich. Barbara knew the organisation already from her life in Gdansk and when she realised that there was nothing like this for women on the Swiss Market, she decided to set up Carrots new chapter in Switzerland.
One of the biggest issues was the fact that previous organisation’s website was not available in German, which is a must for the eastern-swiss market. Even the English version was not entirely complete and the mixture of the Polish and English content was confusing for many of the users. Also, the fact that the website was a couple of years old did not reflect well on the information provided.
All this created a need for a new website, that could advertise the organisation, as well as be a great tool for the locals chapters.
The headquarters mentioned the idea of building a new website in 2017 which caught the attention of Barbara – the Zurich organiser, who is an User Experience specialist. She decided that she wanted to be involved. She proposed the collaboration to her friend Katarzyna from Berlin, who’s a User Experience Researcher.
“For both of us this was an amazing challenge to face, to conduct the research with such a diversified group of users. Geek Girls Carrots is an international world-wide organisation, that means many different people with many different needs are using this website, which has made the study complicated and exciting at the same time.” – says Barbara.
The previous version of the website was no longer fulfilling users needs, the organisation had grown but the website was still the same. There was a need for something more modern and tailored to the current needs. The main problems were very vague and researchers started with the user studies to better understand different personas, their needs and problems.
Basically, at the research phase of the project, the UX team was responsible for an end-to-end experience with all aspects of UX research: including study design, recruitment process, moderation of the research and analysis and reporting the outcomes at the end.
The whole study started with the stakeholders interviews – the president of the organisation back then was Ilona Skarbowska and Paulina Ołtusek – the Project Manager. By interviewing them the researchers were able to understand their perspective on the whole thing. The goal was also to consider their expectations and to hear the summary of any problems they had already encountered with the website.
The second step was to divide the users into potential target groups. This helped to conduct the in-depth interviews with those groups represented. The interviews were divided into two parts: the first one was supposed to help understand people’s motivations and expectations better, the goal of the second one (which consisted of a short usability study) was to find out peoples’ perception of the previous version of the website. This led to a better understanding of how the website was used, what what was not clear and why and where the users were struggling. It also showed what they like and what parts worked well and should not be lost when the website was redesigned.
Next, the team was looking for research participants who suited the research criteria. The recruiting process was conducted very quickly thanks to the support from the Project Manager side. Also, because of the great Carrots community, the research participants were volunteered for the research willingly. Only the partners’ group was a bit problematic to reach.
The qualitative research lasted about a month in total. In this time 15 semi-structured one-hour in-depth interviews were conducted, each remotely via Skype. The UX team also decided to conduct a short and simplified usability test of the previous Carrots website version with each study participant. At that time the focus was to use all the available resources. First of all, the analysis of the previous Carrots website gave the broader understanding of any existing problematic areas. Secondly, it was an additional contribution to talk with users and hear from them about their needs and requirements. Each usability test was ended with the SUS form- the System Usability Scale, where users were giving a global view of subjective assessments of the Carrots website usability. After that step, all of the data was analyzed and the report was prepared to deliver the most important outcomes for the stakeholders.
As you can imagine, plenty of data resulted from the 15 in-depth interviews. Because of that, the team decided to select insights and work further with only those which were the most relevant to the project. It was still nearly 900 insights!
As the next step, the data was systemized and analyzed using the Affinity Diagram. It is a very nice tool, especially recommended for organizing and managing a lot of data in a creative way, grouping them based on their natural relationships.
Admittedly researchers lived far away from each other, almost 800 km, but decided to meet for this step knowing from their experience that the on-site Affinity Diagram sessions always make a great sense. Although the method is not complicated, the creation process took 8 hours!
After that, an online Affinity Diagram version was also created, so it could be shared with the stakeholders. The transparency was very important in this project, researchers were sharing all the documents and findings with the stakeholders throughout the duration of the project. It gave the shared understanding within the team long before the final report was presented. Thanks to this, the final results were also not a big surprise to anyone.
Next, the insights from the usability test were analyzed, this stage occurred remotely- using the Real Time Board tool. The analysis was a valuable lesson before proceeding with designing the website’s new version. Also, the results of the SUS form and the result of the Geek Girls Carrots website were summarized. According to the usability scale, the SUS result was alarming when it comes to the website usability.
After the qualitative study, the team decided to proceed with a quantitative research to verify problems on the representative sample. An online survey was designed with Kamila Bilska, the strategic planner, help. The survey allowed to get to know the Geek Girls Carrots recipient profiles and their preferences.
The study brought many important conclusions and verified some of the previous assumptions as well. On the basis of the conducted research, it was possible to conclude that the previous Carrots website did not fulfill its function. The previous Carrots website was irregularly updated, or content was not selected chronologically, or added as a mix of Polish and English, what made a general impression of inconsistency, incoherency and created serious problems with finding interesting information on the website.
The main problem with the previous website version was that it depicted some different elements of the website in a very similar way, which led to misleading users. Additionally, the users didn’t understand some of the subpages names correctly, which were too abstract or did not fulfill users expectations. Besides that, there were some elements of navigation, which were used inconsistently, like the button “preview” for example, situated on the wrong side of the website. The visual layer of the website was rated as unattractive by the users as well. There were also few things missing on the previous website version, like double filtering of the content for example. Users wanted to filter the content by cities and by events at the same time, and not through only one variable like it was before.
The research finished with constructing a report, which summarized and epitomized this part of the project for those, who could not participate in the research- especially for the stakeholders. The report contained 70 pages, on which researchers included a summary and categorized analysis of the whole research. The report was written in Polish and contained modules such as: Interviews with Stakeholders, Study Recrutation Process, Methodology of Qualitative and Quantitative Research, In-depth Interview Questionnaire description, description of the Study Sample, Affinity Diagrams findings, conclusions from the Usability Tests and SUS form, Qualitative and Quantitative Studies summary, proposed functionalities and created set of personas. At the end, the report was presented to the key foundation stakeholders.
Apart from the studies the aim of the UX project was also to create a clickable prototype of the website based on the findings from the first phase.
Based on the insights from the interviews personas were created. The preliminary list of features was created based on the “Goal-oriented design” method. For each persona the list of motivations and main needs was created. Based on those needs the answers to the question “What can the product do in order to fulfil this need?” were provided. Next step was to think “How can that practically be done?”. Let’s see an example: For the attendee persona there was a need such as “I am interested in giving a presentation and sharing my work experience”. So what can the product do to fulfil this need? For ex. the website shows users in a clear and comprehensible way what it takes to become a speaker and it can encourage visitors to give a presentation.
How can this be done? One way is by showing a banner which lists advantages of becoming a speaker and includes a link that leads to a contact form for the local organisers of the meetups.
The biggest advantage of the conducted studies was the fact that this project was non profit and there was not the usual commercial budget constraints. This helped to conduct the studies almost by the book. Nevertheless, of course many other problems were encountered: not enough of the partners were interviewed, therefore the needs of this group were assumed based on the experience of stakeholders collaborating with different companies.
To support the qualitative data it was decided to check on certain hypotheses with the help of the survey. Unfortunately not as many responses were received as expected.
As it was a volunteer project it had to be done after working hours, which extended the whole experience and made it difficult to stick to the predicted deadlines.
Based on the prototype that was created, graphic design by Kreatik agency was proposed.
Above all however it was a great experience with many challenges but also many successes. Of course the work on the website still goes on, as it is always an ongoing project and there is always something that should be changed or adjusted.
Barbara Pobłocka, User Experience specialist
Katarzyna Wirkus-Molęda, User Researcher
Katarzyna Wirkus-Molęda is a User Researcher with a background in art history and design. She lives and works in Berlin, Germany.
In her current work she combines the interdisciplinary education that she has, both theoretical (a graduate of Art History, University of Gdansk) and practical (a graduate of Usability & User Experience Professional, artop Institut an der Humboldt Universität zu Berlin), as well as earlier experiences that she obtained in her work as an Interior and Exhibition Designer (a graduate of Interior Design, Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk).
Barbara Pobłocka is a UX Designer & Researcher with a background in Architecture and Design. She has more than 5 years of experience in creative fields. She possesses a postgraduate diploma in User Experience Design from Warsaw University of Social Sciences and Humanities.
She has participated in UX projects with companies such as Pictet Asset Management, PwC, Siemens, AON.
She has worked in startups, medium sized organisations and also at an international consulting company. This has brought her a whole variety of experience with different industries (banking, health, insurance, engineering), users and their sometimes very specific needs, stakeholders, requirements and projects.