Dr. Centeno's Academic Website
An academic website showcasing Dr. Centeno’s scientific publications, research history, and background. The webpage targets undergraduate and graduate students and scientists in the microbiology field.
The client reported a high bounce rate, a low engagement from students and other researchers, and a low article download per user. Our objective was to find out what was causing all these issues.
The client’s requirements
UX research and redesign into a more engaging webpage that stood out and incentivizes access and download of their scientific publications of relevance.
Initially, research was conducted to discover insights into the client’s problem. The aims here were to answer the big questions before exploring and defining the actual problems:
- Who is the exact target audience?
- What do they want?
- What is important to them?
- What they don't want?
- What information is mandatory for them?
The first two steps were conducted to evaluate the current website and where it could be readily improved.
What else do we need to know?.
The roadmap below shows the structured UX research steps, the tools used on each step, and the timeframe that was spent on each step, and the whole process.
The metrics of the current website were evaluated using the numbers available in the WordPress dashboard.
It was verified that the users mainly stayed on the Homepage, not moving forward with the other sections, leading to a low number of publication downloads.
Why and how?
What did we find?
There were many positive findings in the final completed website, however, a few usability issues were found which needed to be addressed.
Click here to view the full Heuristic analysis report
Other academic websites that offer similar content (microbiology and mycology) were evaluated. We analyzed several aspects: features, usability, visual design, and others.
What methodologies were employed?
What have we found?
We found that the client’s website had most of the features existent in the competition. However, the competitor’s websites were more organized and offered more value to the user.
A qualitative and quantitative questionnaire was created and surveyed among researchers and students. Seventeen users were surveyed in groups about microbiology and from indications by the client.
What did we want to understand?
What have we found?
The survey confirmed that:
- The majority of users have a higher degree;
- Users seek publications and research lines.
What were the new findings?
- The humane side of the researcher is also highly regarded by many users
- Most users are highly attracted by images of the micro-organisms they work with.
To follow the new findings obtained on the survey, we conducted exploratory interviews.
Scientists and people with a general interest in science and microbiology were interviewed.
The interviews provided excellent qualitative information and a deeper understanding of the findings discovered in the previous steps.
Definition and prioritization
The insights generated in the UX research process were grouped up and prioritized by affinity mapping in a brainstorm section.
Additionally, the “How Might We” technique was conducted and 2x2 Matrix was created.
The objective of these methods is to focus on the main problems to solve and how difficult it would be to work on each one.
2x2 (Impact x Effort) Matrix
The high-priority issues found in the previous steps were selected to be solved.
Ideation sections lead to the first sketches with potential solutions. These sketches served as a blueprint for the development of low-fidelity wireframes.
After the ideas were consolidated into the sketches, I further created low-fidelity interactive wireframes.
What were we testing with these wireframes?
Through iteration, the wireframes were constantly validated with potential users to assure the solutions designed met the user’s needs.
After initial validation, more insights were gathered which led to tweaks in the current prototype.
Final changes were done and the high-fidelity prototype was again tested with users. The main objective was evaluating usability and similarity to real use.
After validation of the high-fidelity prototype, the final design was delivered to the client.
In summary, the website was completely redesigned.
A few sections were added to meet the user’s expectations and the existent sections were remodeled into a more interactive and engaging experience.
The webpage was also rebranded mainly by creating a simple logo and replacing the color palette.
What have I learned?
This project allowed me to further improve my UX research skills. I learned what types of questions to avoid asking users and the ones that brought me better insights.
Additionally, I improved drastically my prototyping and wireframing skills by being responsible for the creation of sketches, low and high-fidelity wireframes, and prototypes. I could see firsthand how powerful usability tests are in bringing to light what works and what doesn't in a website.
What most surprised me was the value that users put into the humane side of researchers. That meant that a website should not only show technical information but also inform the users on who are the people behind it.