Note: Enlighten was acquired by Perficient in December 2015.
From September 2014 through April 2015, I worked part-time (20 hours a week) as a User Experience Associate while finishing up my last two semesters at the School of Information, having previously completed an internship at Enlighten the summer before (May-August 2014). I was very fortunate to work on numerous projects at Enlighten and got to experience just about everything someone in UX could be expected to do (and even a bit of digital strategy): user testing and research, stakeholder and user interviews, surveys, site mapping, content inventories, user flows, sketching, wireframing, and prototyping.
I also had the privilege of being the lead UX designer on a major project at Enlighten: a website for recruiting student-athletes to a Division I university.
But my best learning experiences have come from working with the incredibly talented and dedicated project managers, visual designers, content strategists, user experience designers, developers, and QA specialists at Enlighten. Their standards for excellence have inspired me to sweat the details and to work just as hard on the last 10% of a project as I do on the first 90%. This dedication and attention to details is what allows for the truly excellent digital experiences that delight users and meet our clients' expectations.
Below I list out some of the projects I have worked on, and where possible I link to the publicly available end product.
To entice student-athletes from outside the Midwest to visit the University and consider attending.
Interviewing, surveying, third-party user research, information architecture, wireframing, Forrester, eMarketer, Axure, Notability
June 2014 - November 2014
Lead User Experience Designer
The University of Michigan has no problem in getting nearby recruits to visit the university. But student-athletes on the coasts and in the south are not as familiar with the university and what it has to offer. A website designed with their needs in mind could help get them to campus where the coaches can "seal the deal."
We extensively interviewed stakeholders (coaches of all the sports) and out-of-state students who were recently recruited to the university. From these interviews we were able to understand what kind of information coaches wanted to convey and student-athletes wanted to know. With the knowledge we gained from these interviews (and surveys and interviews of parents, an important secondary audience), we designed a website that succinctly represents the educational opportunities available at the university, and portrays the culture of each team in a fun way.
Update: In June 2015, the site launched. You can find it at ThisIsMichigan.com
It was an amazing experience to be a part of this project from start to finish. What I especially enjoyed was having first-hand contact with stakeholders and users and being able to translate their needs and desires directly into the architecture and design of the site.
It was also interesting to learn from our interviews of student-athletes and from third-party research of teenager browsing habits. While many people might presume that teenagers want a very "flashy" type of experience, they actually aren't that different from "adult" information seekers: they want clear and easy access to the information they are looking for so as to accomplish their goals as smoothly as possible (See this article from the Nielsen Norman Group on "Teenage Usability" if you're interested in learning more).
Helper Helper lets student-athletes track their volunteering hours & gives athletic departments a way of showing their impact on the community.
Enhance the app post-launch. Add the ability for users to create their own volunteering events on the app.
Information Architecture, Wireframing, Prototyping
Lead User Experience Designer for this revision of the app and admin website.
The Helper Helper app was initially designed and developed by Enlighten not long after iOS 7 brought flat design to iOS devices (Windows Phone 7 and Android having already introduced flat design to their platforms before that). Helper Helper's application of flat design principles might have been pushed a bit too far in the initial launch, causing users to mistake buttons for labels.
Another important change was adding the ability for users to create their own events. Student-athletes frequently seek out opportunities on their own to volunteer, and the app during the pilot round limited them to events that were created by team administrators. While a seemingly simple addition, this feature had ramifications for how events are recorded in the database and represented on the admin website (there were a number of other requests from the client for adding capability to the admin website, but this was one of the main ones).
The client said that once users were shown how to sign up for volunteering opportunities and then record their time, they could use the app easily. The trouble was when users did not have direct guidance. To me this indicated that their were problems with the UI more so than with the user flow or the app's architecture. And in my first experience of using the app, I too had problems identifying what was tappable and what wasn't. Together with the team we came up with a way of making the buttons more "button-like" (that is, that it more clearly affords the activity of tapping). For the most part, this involved adding more defined borders to buttons and changing the text of some labels, while still maintaining the appeal of the flat design.
The challenge of introducing the feature whereby students could add their own event was twofold: first, understanding what the ideal user flow should be on the app itself; and secondly, representing these events on the admin website in a way that wouldn't flood the database with a huge number of student-created events. The solution we came up with (which is difficult to describe in detail here) involved allowing students to create new opportunities associated with already-recognized organizations (present in the database already), and, if the organization was new to the system, containing those volunteer opportunities to a certain section of the admin database.
Since we were revising a currently existing app and admin website, the changes had to be considered very carefully so that the changes were in keeping with the existing UI and database architecture. This proved challenging, but was a good reminder that subtle but smart changes can make a big difference in improving usability and adding functionality. It's also a good reminder that there is no such thing as a "quick fix" - everything has to be thought through carefully to ensure the best experience for users and administrators alike.
UDR is a company with a nationwide portfolio of luxury apartments.
User testing had been done during the design and build phases, but after the launch we wanted to see how users were performing on the fully-operational website.
User testing script development, analysis of user testing videos, writing up of report, UserTesting.com
Lead analyst of user testing
In Fall 2014 Enlighten launched a redesigned, responsive version of the UDR website. The UDR was an extensive project covering hundreds of properties across the country. A typical user has several tasks to accomplish (searching for an apartment community, finding a floor plan within the community, etc.) and a lot of information to digest. As part of the launch of the site, we wanted to see how users fulfilled these tasks and whether the information presented on the site was both useful and quickly digested.
The client received a detailed report following the tests with recommendations on updates to the site.
I hadn't been able to do any user testing since the summer and this was a welcome opportunity to get back to observing users. Watching the videos, regardless of whether things are going well or badly, made me think about how user testing and research really is the lifeblood of user experience work. I wish I could do some form of user testing or observation, even a little bit, each week. There is nothing as grounding for a user experience professional as that contact with the user.
A large healthcare system in Ohio, repeatedly named by Thomson Reuters as one of the ten best healthcare systems in the United States.
Improve the experience of searching for a doctor by implementing an advanced form of auto-completion and including more search facets.
Heuristics and comparative analysis, wireframing, information architecture
Lead UX Designer and Researcher
The client, and the agency in charge of their digital strategy at the time, came to Enlighten with the overall strategic vision of what they wanted to accomplish by redesigning Find A Doctor experience. My job was to look at the experience from a design standpoint and figure out what needed to be updated and how to do so in order to meet that strategic vision.
I performed a heuristic analysis of the current search experience and presented my findings to the client. Based on those findings and some comparative analysis done by our strategy partner, I began developing wireframes for the desktop experience. I also pushed for considering what the mobile experience would be like and eventually completed wireframes for the mobile experience.
Search is hard. And searching within a medical context is even harder. This is where a robust auto-complete function can help the user a lot. A user can start typing either a doctor's name or a condition in the same box, and the auto-complete can display a structured list of possibilities, broken out into different categories (by doctor name, by condition, by treatment, etc.)(see healthgrades.com for a good example of how this might work). This functionality helps overcome cases where users might not know the exact name of the medical term or specialty they need to search for.
I also learned that working with a separate agency in charge of strategy can be a bit difficult to manage. Ultimately, design and strategy are so integrated that having separate agencies for each ends up slowing down the project. Fortunately, the client has decided to entrust Enlighten with both design and strategy going forward. And going through this Find A Doctor experience has led them to decide that a redesign of the entire site should be pursued (in lieu of a piecemeal approach).