Latest project: Iroquois Hill Runners website redesign

If you talk to me for like 15 minutes, you’ll probably learn two things: I love running, and I love my neighborhood. So I was super excited when the board members of Iroquois Hill Runners, my neighborhood running group, asked if I’d like to redo the website.

Here’s a quick before and after:

IHR

The existing website was made with a free WordPress It had been a few years since the site was created, so it was in need of a facelift. Here’s what I did:

1.Identified what information visitors were looking for

When I  looked at the site analytics, I noticed traffic spikes around race dates. Race results are posted on the site, so the traffic increases are due to people looking up their running times. So I knew a race results tab had to be front and center.

The group is best known for organizing races in Iroquois Park, so I knew easy access to the events page was essential as well.

2.Identified what information was missing from the site

After talking with several runners who were familiar with the group, I realized there wasn’t much awareness that people can actually join the group. So I added a Become a Member section that outlined why membership is important and included instructions on joining.

I also realized there wasn’t a clearly-labeled “about” page for visitors to the site who aren’t familiar with the group, so I added that as well.

3.Added front-page features that show who we are

The previous front page was informative, but didn’t show a whole lot of personality. There were already a lot of photos taken by group members and posted on Facebook, so I took some of those and created a slideshow. I knew from my research involving yoga events that people love to see photos of events and who attends them.

I also added an announcements section to the front page for two reasons: 1) to put important information in an obvious place, and 2) to show that the group has events going on year-round, and that we want people to come join us.

A few things I learned while working on this project:

1.It’s super important to pick the tool that fits the job.

I was eager to use all the web development skills I’ve learned recently, so I set out to make a fancy website from scratch. I did this, and my design looked great, but then I realized that nobody else from the group would ever be able to update the site, because they’re not developers. Not to mention all the logistical challenges of actually getting the site on the web. In the end, I found that a WordPress template with a few custom changes accomplished what we needed.

2.Take more before pics before jumping into the rebuild

The before photo I’ve got above is actually more of a progress shot. At that point, I’d changed the header photo and text. I forgot to take true beginning photos, but trust me, the site came a long way during the process.

 

User experience of the week: Treehouse online learning platform

Now that my General Assembly class is over, I’m looking for ways to continue learning how to create great user experiences. Being able to articulate strengths and weaknesses from a UX perspective is something I’m working on, so I decided to try a new thing and see how it goes. Each week, I’ll do a short post about a great (or not so great) experience I had as a user and talk about what made it that way.

So I’ll start with a good one. I haven’t counted how many hours I’ve spent on Treehouse in the past year, but it’s a LOT. In case you’re not familiar, Treehouse is an online learning platform, and they offer classes in all areas of tech, from basic computer literacy to Python, JavaScript, and C# development. A lot of learning for Code Louisville is done via Treehouse, which is how I got introduced to it.

In my opinion, intuitiveness is what makes Treehouse a really good experience. (By the way, nobody’s giving me any incentive to say any of this.) I never had to read a manual on how to use Treehouse, or consult any FAQ section. The visual cues on the site were enough to show me around the first time I visited the site. Here are four other navigation elements that make the platform enjoyable to use:

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Six things I learned during my six-week deep dive into UX design

Yesterday, I wrapped up my UX design class with General Assembly. It was only six weeks long, but I feel like I’ve come a long way since the beginning of August! When I started, I had a vague idea of what the design process looked like, but now I’ve actually been through every step of it.

Here are six things I learned:

1. You can learn something from every project, even if you create a product you don’t love.

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General Assembly UX design course, weeks 3-4: wireframing with Sketch, prototyping, and learning some valuable lessons

These last couple weeks in the course have been somewhat of an exercise in persistence. I’ve gained a ton of knowledge and experience, but overall, I feel like I’m creating something that adds work for people. Which is probably the opposite of what I should be doing as a UX designer.

Let me back up a bit. I’d written previously about how, according to my user research, people were having problems with yoga classes not being quite what they expected, and they wanted to know more information before stepping into the studio. So my mission was to figure out a way to give them more information. If you want to know where it all went wrong and what I’m learning from it, keep reading.

Continue reading “General Assembly UX design course, weeks 3-4: wireframing with Sketch, prototyping, and learning some valuable lessons”

General Assembly UX design course, week 2: Creating a persona and solving their problem

Whoa, this class is moving along quick! This time last week, I was listening back to the user interviews I did about the process of finding new yoga classes. Now there are colorful sticky notes all over two walls of my office, and I’m starting to see the shape that my final project will take.

When I say “starting to see,” I mean that. I’ve concluded that users are saying that finding yoga classes is easy, but finding classes they’ll like is not, but I’m still trying to figure out how to solve that problem in a practical way.

In this post, I was going to go through all the work I’ve done and all the steps I’ve taken to get to the short list of features for my final project. But then I realized that that would be boring for you, the user. And I’m no expert yet, but I know that boring the user is probably bad UX. So I’ll just tell you about my favorite part, creating a user persona, if you want to keep reading.

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General Assembly UX design course: Week 1

Right after my front end web development class ended, I decided to dive right into another class. This one is an intensive online workshop in UX design through General Assembly. The idea is to take students through the entire UX design process, from research to final product, in six weeks.

This first week was all about user research. The challenge was to pick an area to research, find some people who are interested in the topic to interview, and use what I learned during interviews to identify a problem. Then during the rest of the course, I’ll be creating a solution to that problem.

The topic I picked was the process of finding and choosing yoga classes, and to keep a long story short, I found that everyone I interviewed wished that process were different in some way. The most common thing people said was that they’d like more information about teaching styles or what poses a class will consist of before getting to the studio and stepping on their mat.

I ended up really getting into the process of doing user research and interviews. If you want to know more about what went well and what I’d like to improve, keep reading.

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Reflections on a year of learning web development, and becoming a “computer person”

Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 5.30.24 PM
The first website I created from scratch, in July 2017. 

Exactly a year ago, I was taking an intro to HTML and CSS workshop through an organization called Girl Develop It. I signed up for it because I’d just celebrated a big milestone in my personal life and I wanted to try something new and adventurous.

I know most people wouldn’t exactly consider making websites adventurous, but for most of my life until that point, I’d actually been somewhat afraid of technology.

Growing up, I associated technology — answering machines for the family business, 90s-era PCs that were a pain to set up, printers that never seemed to work right when a school paper was due — with stress. And nobody likes stress, so I learned to tell myself, “Well, I’m just not a computer person.”

I didn’t realize until I was 31 years old that “computer people” were just people. (I guess I’d always thought that people who were good with technology had some kind of innate superpowers that I just didn’t get somehow.) I was working around a lot of developers and engineers and I slowly started to realize I had things in common with them. As we humans tend to do, you know. Then I heard a great quote while listening to a story on The Moth podcast: “I don’t think that smart people are smarter than me, I think they read a book I didn’t read.”

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