An Audience Understood

Quinnipiac University is a private university located in Hamden, Connecticut. The university was founded in 1929 and has roughly 7,000 undergraduate students. These students, including graduate students pursuing their master’s degree must navigate MyQ.com for information, access to blackboard, access to plan their future courses, housing information and much more. My Q serves as a starting off point for students to learn information on almost any topic regarding student life as well as a way to access their e-mail, self service and web advisor accounts.

My Q was a challenging website to choose, seeing as only Quinnipiac students had access to it and the only real purpose it served was to be a jumping off point to complete other tasks. Yes, it would be difficult, but that was exactly why it was so important the the site be examined. If both freshman, seniors and graduate students are all equally confused about how to navigate a site it means that there is a real problem that needs addressing.

In order to determine what exactly it was that needed fixing with the My Q website would mean running various tests to collect data.

Test One: Competitor Analysis

The most baseline test one can do when trying to fix a website like My Q is to compare the site to that of its competitors in a competitor analysis test. A competitor analysis is used to compare the selected site with other similar to it to see where the selected site is succeeding or failing. In My Q’s case the site was compared with Quinnipiac’s Web Advisor, Quinnipiac’s Self Service and the Quinnipiac website itself. Then the sites were looked at with different categories in mind starting with looking for unique features. MyQ has a search bar while Web Advisor and Self service have very direct interfaces and the Quinnipiac website has an information request and directory search. The sites were then looked at for design strengths; MyQ has none, while the others have an easy to understand tab system. The same process for weakness where Web Advisor has a lack of description for what each tab pertains to, Self Service does not offer any help if you have questions and the Quinnipiac website is often overwhelming with information. Lastly the core features were evaluated: distinction between undergraduates, graduates and faculty, easy access to multiple other platforms and an outlet to speak to someone for assistance, MyQ, Web Advisor and the Quinnipiac Website all distinguish between undergrads, grads and faculty.

With that information gathered it was time to move on to the second test, personas. Persona creation is really helpful when trying to understand your audience and your needs because it helps you visualize who exactly is frequenting your site.

Test Two: Personas

The personas that were created can be seen below, each of them meant to represent the different user that might interact with My Q.

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With these two tests completed it was already much easier to visual the type of people that would visit My Q and the problems that those people might be running into. But speculation of what an audience is like will only take you so far which is why it’s important to run interviews and surveys as well.

Test Three: Interviews

As mentioned above interviewing your audience is the next best step to understanding what they really think of a site. Next interview questions were composed, guided by one research question, to help learn more about the public’s general attitude towards My Q. The questions are broken up into different sections that help guide the interviewee through easy comfortable questions, to more difficult ones and then back to a cool down.

RESEARCH QUESTION: HOW CAN THE NAVIGATION OF MYQ BE AS EASY AS POSSIBLE?

Warm Up Questions:

Can you tell me some demographic information? Name? Age? Where you live?

Are you currently enrolled as a student at Quinnipiac University?(If yes: what year are you currently in?)

What is a feeling that comes to mind when you hear MyQ?

Body Questions:

Can you tell me five things you like and five things your dislike about MyQ?

If you had the chance to change one thing about MyQ what would it be? (follow up: if you could change a second thing what would that be?)

Would you rather have a revised MyQ while you’re still a student or would you prefer to wait until you graduated?

(If wait until graduation: would waiting until summer to install these changes be okay? Why or why not?)

Cool Off Questions:

Is there anything you think I should have asked you today?

What would you recommend the interviewer do differently next time?

Is there anything you would like to add?

Can you sum up your feelings towards MyQ in one word?

Wrap Up Questions:

Do you have any questions at this time?

Test Four: Surveys

Surveys and interviews go hand in hand. Having one without the other is fine but the two together really create a wider understanding of what your audience really needs. The survey and the research question that guides it can be read below.

Research Question: Who is the average user of myQ and how easy is it for them to operate the site?

What is your year?

A) Freshman B) Sophomore

C) Junior D) Senior

E) Graduate Student F) Faculty

What is your major?

A) School of Arts & Sciences B) School of Business

C) School of Communications D) School of Education

3) School of Health Sciences F) School of Law

G) School of Medicine/ Nursing

What is your age?

A) 17-18 B) 19-20

C) 20-21 D) 21-22

E) 23-30 F) 40+

Do you have a work study?

A) Yes B) No

C) Previously

Do you work outside of work study?

A) Yes B) No

C) Previously

Did you transfer to Quinnipiac?

A) Yes B) No

Does it take more than one click to get to your desired location?

A) Yes B) No

Are you involved in clubs?

A) Yes B) No

C) Previously

How often do you use My Q?

A) Once a day B) Multiple times a day

C) Once a week D) Multiple times a week

E) Once a month F) Never

Overall how easy is it to navigate My Q?

A) Easy B) Somewhat Easy

C) Difficult D) Somewhat Difficult

How easy it to find what you’re looking for on My Q?

A) Easy B) Somewhat Easy

C) Difficult D) Somewhat Difficult

Are you generally satisfied with My Q?

A) Yes B) No

What aspect of My Q do you use most?

Would you recommend My Q?

A) Yes B) No

C) Maybe

How often are you frustrated at My Q?

A) Often B) Somewhat Often

C) Never

Can you confidently operate myQ?

A) Yes B) No

Do you use My Q as a starting point for other sites?

A) Yes B) No

Would you mind if My Q updated while you were still a student?

A) Yes B) No

How much does My Q hinder you life?

Do you find My Q has a lot of unnecessary features?

A) Yes B) No

Test Five: Card Sorting

Following that is one of the most important test that can be conducted when gathering data. This method is called card sorting and users are encouraged to group together elements of the website. This is incredibly important for a website like My Q that is difficult to navigate. Now users can physically show how they would prefer the site function.

The results of this test done be three different participants yielded these results:

Participant One

“Current Undergraduate”

Campus Rec Employment Opportunities

Intramural

Club Sports

Information Technology

Print Service Center

Q-card

Mail Service Center Student Health Services

E-mail

Self Service

Web Advisor

E-portfolio

QU online

Fitness and Recreation Blackboard

Student Veterans Organization

Citrix

Current Graduate Students”

Graduate Financial Aid

School of Medicine Financial Aid

School of Law Financial Aid Graduate Student Affairs School of Law School

School of Pre Law

Advising Office

Library Law

“Undergraduate Information”

Admission

School of Education

School of Business

School of Communications Undergrad Financial Aid School of Nursing

University Honors Program Residential Life

Student Employment

School of Health Science Dining

Registrar

Bookstore

Library Netter

Student Shuttle Service

Final Exam Schedule

School of Engineering

Bursar

Dean of Student Affairs Counseling Service

Religious Life

Library Arnold

Student Government Multicultural/ Global Education Department of Public Saftey

Participant Two

“Academics”

Library Arnold

Library Netter

Library Law

Admission

School of Nursing Multicultural/ Global Education School of Health Services School of Communications School of Business

School of Law

School of Medicine

Pre Law Advising Office University Honors Program School of Engineering

Dean of Student Affairs

School of Education

“Financial”

Undergraduate Financial Graduate Financial

School of Med Financial Aid

Bursar

School of Law Financial Aid

Electronic Services”

Blackboard

Registrar

Citrix

Final Exam Schedule

Mail Service Center

Print Service Center

Q-Card

E-Portfolio

WebAdvisor

Self Service

Email

QU Online

“Student Sports”

Club Sports

Intramural

Information

“Student Life”

Campus Rec Employment Opportunities

Graduate Student Affairs Student Veterans Organization Department of Public Safety Dining

Student Employment BookStore

Religious Life

Counseling Service

Fitness and Recreation

Student Government

Student Health Services Student Shuttle Service Residential Life

Participant Three

“Schools”

School of Education

School of Health Science School of Communications School of Business

School of Law

School of Law Financial Aid Pre Law Advising Office

Law Library

School of Medicine

School of Engineering

School of Nursing

School of Med Financial Aid

“Student Life”

Citrix

Q-card

Self Service

Undergraduate Financial Aid Department of Public Saftey Student Health Services

E-portfolio

Dining

Student Shuttle Service Graduate Financial Aid Graduate Student Affairs Religious Life

Student Employment

Student Government

Student Veterans Organization Dean of Student Affairs Counseling Service

Residential Life

E-mail

Web Advisor

QU Online

Blackboard

Information Technology

Final Exam Schedule

Student Recreation”

Club Sports

Intramural

Fitness and Recreation

Campus Rec Employment

“Service Center”

Print Service Center

Mail Service Center

Bookstore

Bookstore

“Admission”

Admission

Multicultural/ Global Education

University Honors Program

“Registrar”

Registrar

Bursar

“Library”

Library Arnold

Library Netter

Test Six: Diary Study

After users are instructed to group in the card sorting experiment the next experiment, diary studies begins. The diary study will attempt to answer the following questions: How do users deal with solving the problems that arise when they are trying and failing to navigate the MyQ site? The diary study consists of 5 undergrad students, 5 graduate students and 5 employees (professors/ advisors) that are tasked with filling out an email diary every day asking them specific questions about their experience with MyQ. The study would last daily for two weeks, this ensures there is enough data to reach conclusions.

Test Seven: Heuristic Evaluation

The Heuristic Evaluation is an important experiment to run when trying to reexamine a website because it allows you to take a step back and consider the hierarchy of problems on the site. This helps put things in perspective in order to tackle the biggest problems first.

0- No Problem 1- Small Problem, Easy Fix 2- Problem, Medium Fix 3- Big Problem, Large Fix 4- Catastrophic

Visibility of system status: 1

Match between system and the real world: 1

User control and freedom: 2

Consistency and standards: 1

Error prevention: 2

Recognition rather than recall: 1

Flexibility and efficiency of use: 3

Aesthetic and minimal design: 4

Help users recognize, diagnose and recover from errors: 0

Help and documentation: 1

Test Eight: Usability Report

The usability report is the last test employed in dissecting the My Q site and is possibly the most helpful as it asks users to participate in a series of tasks on the site and observing where they run into trouble. The tasks and results from participants are as follows:

    • Open Blackboard (This should take One click, the blackboard link is on the homepage)
      • Participant #1- Task completed in 10 seconds, one click, no difficulty or questions
      • Participant #2- Task completed in 10 seconds, one click, no difficulty or questions
      • Participant #3- Task completed in 5 seconds, one click, no difficulty or questions
    • Find the hours of operation for the gym on Mount Carmel Campus Mon- Fri (This should take Two clicks)
      • Participant #1- Task completed in 30 seconds, three clicks, slight difficulty but no questions or frustration
      • Participant #2- Task completed in 24 seconds, one click, no difficulty or questions
      • Participant #3- Task completed in 24 seconds, one click, no difficulty or questions
    • Find the schedule for the New Haven Town and Train Shuttle Service (This should take Two clicks)
        • Participant #1- Task completed in 45 seconds, two clicks, no difficulty or questions
        • Participant #2- Task completed in 25 seconds, two clicks, no difficulty or questions
        • Participant #3- Task completed in 1 min 2 seconds, three clicks, slight difficulty but no questions
    • Find your mailbox combination number (This should take Three clicks and is the most difficult task)
      • Participant #1- Abandoned the task at 2 min 57 seconds, four clicks, extreme difficulty

        Participant #2- Abandoned the task at 3 min 45 seconds, five clicks, extreme difficulty

        Participant #3- Abandoned at 4 min 50 seconds, fourteen clicks, extreme

    • Find the New Student Health Services Requirements (This should take 2 clicks)
      • Participant #1- Task completed in 45 seconds, two clicks, no difficulty or questions

        Participant #2- Task completed in 25 seconds, two clicks, no difficulty or questions

        Participant #3- Task completed in 1 min 2 seconds, three clicks, slight difficulty but no questions

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After all the tests are completed the only thing left to do is absorb all the data and make recommendations for change. Since there was so much data collected there are a lot of different directions My Q could go in. The two most helpful tests for gathering data were card sorting and the usability report. These two, along with help from the other tests, helped to layout the major improvements that need to be implemented. Most importantly the issue of the categorization system needs a serious update. Users need to be able to figure out how to get where they need to go simply and quickly, that is one of the most important aspects of UX design and My Q currently does not meet that. Simplifying and clarifying the categories is something that was proven as an element users wanted as seen in the card sorting test.

Another element that piggy backs off of that is the problem of the search bar. If users can’t find where they need to be on their own by using the tabs then the search bar MUST be functioning as a back up. In addition to that the site must be updated with better stylistic choices such as the size of font. As of right now the site is too difficult to read and the colors of the menu are too similar to that of the background, making them blend in.

Right now My Q serves its purpose as being a starting point for students to reach other information about student life, but it does not do it successfully. With this information gathered through the tests and these recommendations implemented My Q could be a very successful website that incorporates good UX and lets its users know that they listen and care about what they have to say.

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