MSU Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology
UX Design Researcher
February 2020 - Current
Adobe XD, WordPress, Google Drive, Zoom
Creating an essential needs portal for the community, designed for users that have a past that informs the way they think and act. How do we undo an institution of exclusion to make users feel included by defining our own trauma-informed heuristics?
A trauma-informed, user-facing directory offering resources on essential needs. At the moment, this is a prototype that has been presented to stakeholders at the higher University level. Our team is working to move forward with user testing and research involving faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduates.
Here is the user-informed process I took with this project. I delve into details of each step below!
Starting this project, our team had to ask why we were building an essential needs portal. A major reason was to undo the sense of exclusion universities tend to have with resources. More often than not, students do not know where to reach out to get the proper resources.
Creating an essential needs portal/directory designed for users with a past that informs the way they think and act is a step in the right direction.
Our team began researching other university portals and synthesizing how trauma-informed design will translate to our work. Using resources that researched trauma-informed design, such as Melissa Eggleston’s work, our team started a research sprint that would help develop our design heuristics.
Using the heuristics from our compiled resources, we analyzed best practices and inefficient practices from other portals. The heuristics we evaluated was safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, and empowerment—pulled from the University of Buffalo School of Social Work’s Trauma-Informed Organizational Change Manual, shown below.
After this research, we created working heuristics—still open to change—using the manual. Additionally, we added a heuristic: historical, and gender/sexuality issues.
With our working heuristics, our team analyzed a multitude of essential needs portals from other universities through the lenses of user personas we created for our project. Our personas included faculty members looking for resources to provide a student they’ve noted is struggling with needs to students seeking out resources for themselves.
From this, my fellow Design Researcher and I started three design sprints, each consisting of two weeks. Between each sprint we gathered feedback from our team to continue improving each rough design.
Below is the progression of wireframes to high fidelity mock-ups in Adobe XD!
View the Prototype
Transitioning to being the solo Design Researcher, my team had to reevaluate our time to create a fully working, interactive prototype for presentation. In the span of three to four weeks, I worked to complete a prototype for stakeholders in Adobe XD.
Our team held focus groups with staff and faculty of Michigan State University affiliated with the essential needs portal. These sessions gave insight on the strengths and weaknesses of our designs and heuristics.
An important piece of feedback our team received was the use of language to invite a user to connect with our portal. Members of our focus groups noted some interactions had language that seemed passive. Language cross-cuts each category of our heuristics, making this feedback exponentially useful for our future iterations of the design.
With the feedback our team gathered from focus groups, we created our first interactive prototype to present to university stakeholders.
After presenting the prototype to university stakeholders, our project is transitioning to the next phase: more research. As of now, our team is working to start user testing with more faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduates. Within these focus groups, I will facilitate sessions with undergraduate students and assist in observing other sessions.