User Experience Design and Usability
Trailmeme was a web application that helped users tell stories with web content. Users could blaze trails by creating visual maps through curated web pages, publish those trails and walk trails made by other users.
The trail blazing process was complex and confusing, most first-time site visitors were not able to understand what a trail was and how it could be useful. The application had been designed and built by the project leader, a group of talented developers and a visual designer; they needed help to transform Trailmeme into a real product.
I first did a heuristic evaluation to capture the usability issues and provided immediate fixes. In this process I also rewrote much of the explanatory and instructional text on the site. I worked together with the team to create a landing page that integrated a Trailmeme video that explained the value proposition of application well.
Over the course of two years, I steadily improved on the design of the application, adding new features and eventually completely redesigning the trail blazing process; working with the project team in an Agile/Scrum environment. I created hundreds of wireframes and did periodic user testing to get feedback from target users.
The new Trailmeme began to receive positive reviews from sites like GigaOM, Mashable and ReadWriteWeb.
The number of active users increased significantly and the project received a second round of internal funding. Trailmeme was also chosen by VentureBeat to be launched at it’s DEMO Fall 2010 event.
I first did a heuristic evaluation to get to quickly up to speed with the design and try to identify any usability issues. On Trailmeme, I used the 10 Usability Heuristics from the Nielsen Norman Group and walked through the trail blazing workflow as a new user. I then ranked the issues I found as critical, major or ordinary. As a team, we reviewed the issues and made a plan to address each one. This activity greatly improved the usability of the application and helped us come together as a team.
I created wireframes for Trailmeme using Microsoft PowerPoint, then I would review them with the team. There would be several rounds of discussion and modifications. Once the team was satisfied that they were roughly right, I would pass the wireframes on to our visual designer who would work up the layout and graphics. We added dozens of features and completed major redesigns of the trail creation, editing and walking interfaces. We received patent US9069769B2 for the trail creation wizard.
Trail Creation Wizard Wireframe
Periodically I would plan and run a small user test to make sure that the ever-evolving Trailmeme application still made sense to target users. I would run the tests via video teleconference and have participants share their screens with me as I walked them through scripted tasks and questions. The informal test reports were shared within the team and helped populate the backlog of application improvements.
Informal User Testing Report
Core competencies: Heuristic Evaluation, Wireframing, User Testing, Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft PowerPoint, Agile/Scrum