UX Research & Personas
Combining quantitative and qualitative research methods for a complete audience picture
The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is a top-rated engineering, science, and math university located in Terre Haute, Indiana. Like most universities, their website was an enormously important part of their overall marketing and lead generation strategy, but—also like most universities—it was straining under the weight of being unmanaged and outdated.
I was a point-of-contact for this client at my agency (I often was), helping to manage the relationship as well as acting as a UX team of one, collaborating with the Institute's stakeholders. Often times in these agency-client relationships I was much more than what the title "UX Designer" conveys; I was sort of their digital strategy sherpa, leading them through all parts of research, analysis, information architecture, technology selection, product strategy, content strategy, and project management.
Rose-Hulman had not done website user research, or any kind of substantial audience research aside from some department-specific questionnaires or freshmen surveys. So I recommended conducting research as the first step toward their ultimate goal of redesigning the entire website (while also transferring it to a new content management system).
I decided I would combine quantitative and qualitative research methods, which is a strategy I often use. It gives me a more complete understand of an audience, plus running a survey can do double duty as a recruiting channel for face-to-face interviews.
I contributed toward an intercept survey for rose-hulman.edu. The survey was meant to gather demographic information, as well as perceptions of the Rose-Hulman brand, and opinions about the website's user experience.
I also analyzed available website metrics.
At the end of the intercept survey, we allowed people to opt-in for future research. From that pool of volunteers I selected 12 individuals who represented a cross-section of rose-hulman.edu visitors for individual remote user research sessions.
This research resulted in a mountain of data and information which I analyzed and turned into a set of reports, and personas, for the stakeholder team at Rose-Hulman to review and consider. I presented the findings at an on-site meeting.
The Steps That Followed...
Once we had user research in-hand, I was able to move forward with the next steps of the UX process.
A complete re-architecting of the website's categories, subcategories, and pages. (This was unbelievably BIG!)
Selecting new CMS technology.
Wireframing a complete set of templates for each of the institute's departments.
Managing the content creation process with the institute's subject matter experts.
...but a small sampling of the wireframes I produced in order to completely rethink the entire sitemap of this enormous website.