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Implementing a user-validated redesign of the Open Collective dashboard

User Research, Qualitative Research Methods, Usability Testing, Responsive Web, Data Analysis | Senior UX Designer @ Open Collective | 2023

1. Context

App Type: - a legal and financial toolbox for grassroots groups. It’s a fundraising + legal status + money management platform for your community.
Target Audience: Fiscal Host Admins, Collective Admins and Contributors.
Role: I served mainly as UX Researcher at this project, collaborating closely with a Product Manager (PM) with support of the UX manager to do interviews.
Company Objective: The primary company goal was offer a great Dashboard user experience, solving user problems that were getting in the way of expanding its presence in the US and Europe market.
Duration: Approx. 2 months, taken along other projects.

2. UX Problem

The platform had grew the number the of dev-driven features on the past years, without properly applying UX methods, and user support tickets were exploding with usability and navigation problems 💥

3. Tackling the problem

To validate the dashboard design based on previous user feedback and team's hypothesis. The aim was to test a round of different Dashboard proposals with users who were encountering it for the first time.

4. UX Process

UX needs

Coming from the existent documentation, it was clear that:
We needed to accomodate the current features into a clearer navigation
It was not clear how users were finding their way on the platform

UX Prototypes

Various lo-fi prototypes and sketches explorations were made, considering our main problems coming for customer satisfaction and user feedback groups.
Screenshot 2023-11-20 at 20.30.38.png

Once we validated with the internal team, we selected a few proposal to make live-coded prototypes while working closely with devs, so it could get the best of a experience fidelity from our user testing recorded sessions.

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Research Methods used 🔎

🧑‍💻 Mostly Moderated Research (1on1s) 📹 And some Unmoderated Research (using Lookback.io) 🖥️ Desktop and Mobile
Screenshot 2023-11-20 at 20.44.38.png

Research Pool 🤿

For this research, I've invited people who already signed up for receiving tests and research from Open Collective. For this test, the persona responses goals was:
5 Fiscal Host Admins
5 Collective Admins
5 Contributors

3 scripts 📄

Each persona had its own focused script. Here is an excerpt:
Fiscal Host Specific questions
2
Collective Admin
2
Contributor
2

Session Analysis

For a stakeholders session analysis within the team, I've put together a few User journeys visualizations to help make sense of the test overview. Example:
Screenshot 2023-11-20 at 20.36.12.png

5. Findings and Outcomes

I've consolidate a test report that looks like this: ​
image.png
I've created 20 assessments based on user evidence from the tests, with the links to it, and details, for further improvements, such as:
Screenshot 2023-11-20 at 20.55.19.png

Research questions 🙋

I've started this research with 3 simple questions:
Can users find their way around with the introduction of the new Workspace area on the platform?
Are users able to intuitively find the tools they need to do their most common platform tasks?
Should we move more tools (eg: projects, events, updates) from public profiles into the workspace?

Research analysis

And here is what I found out:
Yes, although it would be good to enhance that there is a reflection between what's shown on the private and public interfaces. Since open collective is "transparent by design", this doubt appeared for approximately 15% of users. So I would bring attention to affording an UX that offers the easiest way to see the public and private, in a way that the contents don't feel disconnected.
Most of the users did find their main things, and there are many opportunities for important features to be placed more at hand (Such as submitting an expense, managing tiers, create a collective, etc). As well as navigation aspects that could be cleared up, that sometimes don't offer one clear way (the account menu and role switcher content listing duplication case).
Yes, seems that the transition to use the platform on the Workspace offers a better way to get work done, although it is still missing an important expected benefit from a dashboard, that is: showing the actual suggested main actions a user needs or could accomplish. Seems that users still have to find things manually in between many tabs, without one unique starting point (or a starting overview dashboard) that could be more beneficial and possible more customizable to each of the user's need. As well as consider in the UX the opportunities of for each feature, such as ways to create updates from the content that already moves through the collective (donation from someone).

Reformulating the spaces with a Information Architecture study

Based on the analysis, I started to reorganize the areas of the site in order to tackle the main user needs and navigation possibilities that would better fit their each specific persona need.
Frame 14263.png

User Interface

And here is a sneak peak of how the UI looked like with the design system. A few important UX patterns added based on research were:
Bottom navbar and the split between Explore (public) and Dashboard (private) areas of the platform.
Different Overview pages for each persona, considering each of their needs
A simpler mobile navigation with an accessible switcher for those who administer various accounts.
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6. Lessons learned & takeaways

Using coda for documenting the test was crucial for sharing the gathered user knowledge among the team
The project seemed to lack a few other complementary methods such as Tree testing or Card sorting to review the Information Architecture in a more clear way.
Usability test proved to be a quick and dirt way to get the organization into a user-driven product mindset.

Alongside, a User Research Center was born

In order to to establish a UX Research culture in Open Collective, I've structured ways to increment the Product design process with research with actionable instructions documented on Coda. This was an effort to , so we could be constantly learning from real users and move away from opinionated design and unfruitful design. After 2 months, people from different teams had already started doing research on their own and sharing the findings for the whole organization, helping on the building of a shared vision around UX.

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