A MIX OF FRUSTRATION AND PRODUCTIVITY
After graduation, I moved to NYC without a job or an apartment. Within a few weeks, I landed both. Fueled by frustration from the lack of tangible advice professionals were giving me, I decided to take matters into my own hands. What started as a Google doc of post grad advice that I was accumulating through personal experience and networking, launched a passion project that has had 2,200+ visitors since July 1, 2019.
Overall UX project goals:
For the entirety of this project, I had zero formal UX training. I had learned about some of the processes through talks, books, and podcasts and decided to give it a try. There are UX procedures and stages missing in this case study since I didn’t know about them. After completing my certification, I have reflected about what I would do differently.
Type: Passion project
Role: User researcher, UX and UI designer, copy writer
Timeline: February-July 2019
6 months (Part-time)
I surveyed 335 people to better understand 3 groups:
Current college students
Recent graduates (Within the past 2 years)
Professionals (2+ years since college).
I wanted to learn about my target audience of recent grads, but also compile information from professionals to fuel the content used in the guide.
What were you least prepared for after graduation?
Did you negotiate your first job?
How prepared do you feel regarding: networking, finding roommates, work-life balance
What was the biggest difference between your expectations and the reality about the post grad transition?
I learned that it can be tempting to ask leading questions while conducting interviews. As I asked more questions, I got better at presenting them in a more objective way.
Combing through the details: survey Analysis
I looked through the survey results and searched for trends and patterns about people’s experiences. An insight that surprised me was that only 24.9% of recent grads and 22.6% of professional negotiated for their first job.
Key patterns and consistent trends that I noticed were:
Fear about not finding a job
Anxiety about being financially independent
Stress about maintaining a 9-5 schedule
Nerves about being lonely
Fear about getting a job that is not a good fit
I then broke those into broader categories: Job search, personal finance, and social life
Recent grads feel unprepared for the post grad transition.
My iterations took the form of a list because I was brainstorming what content needed to be included. I wanted to equip my user with appropriate resources, that addressed actual concerns and stressors they had. This was a very content heavy project, but is still grounded in my user research.
Questions I considered while brainstorming:
Should all the topics be weighted the same?
Which order should they be in?
Should I implement sub categories?
What patterns exist that I can cluster content in?
I drew out possibilities for all the pages. I wanted all the content to be laid out in the same way so it was consistent and easy to follow.
Hi-fidelity user testing
Since I was building on Squarespace and there is limited layout functionality, I began creating the site to see what perimeters I had to work with. I conducted user tests from that site.
I asked several questions about button functionality expectations, initial thoughts, and impressions.
I didn’t make any low or medium fidelity digital versions because I wasn’t as knowledgable about the process as I am now. If I were to do this again, I would add in that step so I could catch mistakes much earlier in the process.
Round 1 user tests feedback
The first round of user testing was with 1 man (recent grad, 23) and 1 woman ( senior, 20).
Findings and recommendations from round 1:
Site was easy to navigate, users could move to different pages without confusion
Bolded words and use of images helped sort out the information
Need to revisit the hierarchy of topics
Information is catered towards a tradition path, expand options or make it clear that it’s not “one size fits all”
Round 2 user tests feedback
The second round of user testing was with 1 man (recent grad, 21) and 1 woman (recent grad, 23).
Findings and recommendations from round 1:
Make contact button bigger
Unclear about who made the guide: a company? a person? What’s the catch?
Seems very NYC-centric
Headlines need to be more distinguished
UI and branding
Squarespace has limited layout flexibility so for UI I focused on color scheme, font, and layout.
Font: I used Proxima nova for primary font because it’s sans serif, easy to read.
Logo: I used rounded letters since I don’t want any of the users to “feel stuck in a corner.” The intersecting lines represent different parts of life coming together through the post grad transition.
Colors: The palette is filled with cool colors, to evoke a sense of calm. The post grad transition can be very stressful and this tool is supposed to make it easier and seamless. The teal represents rejuvenation, which also connects to taking a new step in a transition.
Expanded user touch points
I created a strategy plan for other points of interactions that people would have with the brand. I thought about marketing techniques to advertise the product, and position it as a go-to tool. Thinking about different touch points allowed me to dive deeper into the user journey of CONVERGE because I didn’t want the experience to end at the bottom of a webpage.
I created a monthly newsletter and Slack group to build community, and make more opportunities for brand growth.
This strategic thinking allowed me think about how the website would be perceived by different audiences, especially from those with little to zero prior knowledge of the brand. I had to focus on the clarity of brand recognition, and make sure the website goals were clear at first glance.
I learned how important it is to document the full process so it can be referenced later on.
It can be tempting to want to solve all the problems, but that will only cause the whole project to be weakened. Putting energy into one problem and target audience will strengthen the content and provide clearer goals.
For example, I set out to focus on recent grads, but all these secondary audience options kept opening up, like grad students, underclassmen, and professionals. I was eager to help more people, but needed to stay grounded and stick with the one audience so I could truly understand their pain points and behaviors.
This was a great opportunity to use UX processes for a personal project. If I had more time/resources, and had conducted this with more UX knowledge I would have created a low fi iteration to user test. I would have done more testing earlier in the development stage.