I led the product research for GiveShop, a social impact giving web platform. By increasing users’ content comprehension by 53%, users also showed a 25% increase in interest in the platform.
Survey Design, Usability Testing, Prototyping, Treejack, Wireframes,
Figma, Miro, Optimal Cardsort
Defining the Problem
A One-Stop Shop for All Your Giving Needs
GiveShop has two users, givers who volunteer or donate to social impact projects and the owners of the projects. Givers can give in three ways: quick donations, general volunteering, or volunteering specific skills they have (examples include: designing a website, analyzing data, making a poster, or cooking for an event).
In addition to these key functions, the platform aims to include several other features to create a one-stop-shop. While noble, this all-encompassing giving platform was bound to get feature dense quickly. This poses obstacles to creating a simplified and intuitive experience.
In 2019, I joined the team to ensure this doesn’t happen in two ways; 1) writing clear and informative content, and 2) using user research insights to guide organization and flow of the web platform.
(This is the hero of an example project page. The display is project instead of organization focused and separates flows into donations and volunteering.)
How might we organize a feature-dense two-sided platform to be simple and intuitive?
Since the biggest obstacle of this website is intuitive organization, the information architecture was the most important feature. I read Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think” and Peter Morville’s “Information Architecture for the World Wide Web” to tease out the best way to approach this.
Information architecture that matches users’ mental models. (Source)
1) Visible information and minimal amount of information clarifying what the platform offers. While simplifying it is one way to do this, It must also be comprehensible to its users.
2) Call-to-actions are easily accessible because “nothing important should ever be more than two clicks away.”
— Steve Krug, Don’t Make Me Think
3) When task flows must be long, “it doesn’t matter how many times I have to click, as long as each click is a mindless, unambiguous choice.”
— Steve Krug, Don’t Make Me Think
By the time I joined, features had already been solidified after extensive interviewing of potential users. I compiled a list of all the features as well as the three major task flows that arise from their combination. I reviewed the user interviews to see what the most common use cases would be.
The one-stop shop idea generated a lot of excitement amongst potential users, but organizing the content was a challenge.
MAJOR TASK FLOWS
There were three calls to action: posting a project, volunteering skills, and donating money. These three CTAs had large, unique task flows.
KEY RESEARCH INSIGHT
We Need To Delight Givers
The website we were developing was two-sided. It aimed to cater to two user groups: givers and social impact project owners.
I spearheaded the initial rounds of research on givers because they are essential to charitable business success. (Source) The assumption being that project owners will post their projects to sites that entice its givers.
We ran open-ended interviews with 100+ potential users of the platform and learned about various types of givers and their frustrations.
What are We Juggling?
I compiled all the areas of the product platform that could get unweildy, most of which had been set in stone by the time I had arrived to the project.
From sharing, favoriting, and liking a project to applying to volunteer specific trade skills — this platform does it all.
Three Task Flows
Users can land on the site and post their social impact project to recruit donors and volunteers, seek opportunities to volunteer, or donate.
Multiple Persona Audiences
While there are two overarching users: givers and social impact project owners, givers can actually be broken down by frequency and type of giving.
Relies on Tipping
A major deterrent for givers is feeling like their money does not actually go to the cause. In order to alleviate that, the platform relies on tipping. If users don’t love GiveShop enough to tip, the company will fail.
Understanding what Encourages and Deters Users from Using Giving Platforms
I delved deeper by sorting all the commonly mentioned encouraging factors and deterrents and designed a ranked survey. This allowed us to prioritize solutions for the MOST deterring factors, and employ the MOST encouraging features.
Card Sorting, with Constraints
I used optimal card sort to see how users categorized an unwieldy amount of information. Users organized the content into three phases (searching for a project, researching the project, and deciding to give). This translated into search functionality, project statistics, and several check out flows.
Concept and Usability testing
What is GiveShop Anyway?
To determine if our platform provides solutions to users’ frustrations, I conducted a concept test. Then I conducted several iterative directed and free roam usability tests to test flow and navigation.
1) Concept testing revealed that users care a lot about trust related content (impact statistics, reviews, and ratings).
2) Directed usability testing revealed that users use the search bar when they know what they’re looking for and that the call-to-action (CTA) buttons were not intuitive.
3) Freeroam usability testing revealed that most users still use the search bar when there’s no clear objective, while others wanted to see trendy featured projects.
Using Google Trends to Write Better Content
Throughout iterative testing, user’s lacked clarity about GiveShop’s offerings. After the tests, we clarified and found that users like the concept but our text does not reflect our mission.
CTA buttons only have a couple of words so I used Google Trends. “Giving” is 200% less likely to appear than “donating” and “volunteering.” Splitting this button changed the flow of the website.
I also changed social cause project to social impact projects because Google Trends revealed an overwhelming preference for social impact in recent months. I tested longer content such as taglines using a Cloze test to see if users’ fill-in-the-blank answers were congruent with our text. I also added a few questions about comprehension of our updated content.
Impact and Results
Results of Organization
Measured by counting number of users who correctly click on appropriate CTA button
↓ 1:06 min
Land on Project Page
Measured by timing how long it takes users to get to a specific project page
Measured by accuracy of filled in blanks in Cloze content test.
After 10 rounds of testing, we were nearing a lovable product for first release. While the designers focused on UI elements, I was in charge of function (where pages lead, how they are animated, and what their purpose is). I presented the data to back up the design decisions to the developers and am continuing the handoff process by being available for questions and meetings.
Since I joined GiveShop’s UX team in September, comprehension, usability, and ratings of trust have increased significantly. I am now awaiting the first release. I’m excited to study live user behaviors once the platform leaves stealth mode.
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