Speakers Club Website

Complete end-to-end UX research and design for a local non-profit organisation

My Role: UX Research & Design

January – June 2020

Project Overview

I undertook this voluntary project to refresh the online presence for a local public speaking club.
  • Methods: Interviews, surveys, card sorting, brainstorming, wireframing, prototyping, UI/UX design, remote moderated usability tests
  • Skills: Interviewing, synthesising, presenting, wireframing, prototyping, web design, web development
  • Deliverables: Competitor analysis, personas, user flows, IA, wireframes, prototypes, designs
  • Tools: Miro, InVision Studio, Zoom, Survey Monkey, Optimal Workshop, Affinity Designer, WordPress, Divi

Opportunity

The Brighton & Hove Speakers Club (brightonandhovespeakersclub.com) is a not-for-profit organisation that is run by volunteers to help its members develop confidence in communication through public speaking.

I had the opportunity to rework their entire online presence and address the needs of visitors and members. We set out to understand what people needed to get the most out of the club and improve member retention and engagement.

Strategy

I initially went into this to repair the club website after it stopped working in late 2019. The website had seen multiple facelifts since its launch in 2012 but had fallen into disrepair. The version of the site I encountered directed to a rudimentary holding page, with little substance except keeping the shop window open for visitors to find out about the club.

The function of an online presence for any organisation is to help them connect with people and provide services they need. I saw a potential for the club to serve the community better, given the niche it has in the city.

Process

1. Interviews with Committee Members

My research began the design thinking process to discover the goals and pain points from people at the meetings. It kicked off with informal conversations with organising members to learn about their views on club activities. I asked questions unrelated to the website and more on their understanding of any ongoing issues and expectations at the club. Their responses helped me to plan research questions and possible methods of getting answers.

2. Website Repair & Quick Wins

I chose this early stage to reinstall WordPress and create a temporary website for the club while I carried on with the research. I intended this to send out a “business as usual” message from the club with a published set of meeting dates.

3. Surveys

To understand the needs of the website from current and prospective members, I wrote a visitor survey and handed-out copies to people as they came to the club. I was able to collect responses in three meetings before the club went online owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. I also included contact form enquires and membership application forms as additional sources.

4. Competitor Analysis

In learning how clubs like ours address the needs of their audience, I examined the online presence of 15 other public speaking clubs around the UK. The analysis entailed taking stock of the features implemented on their websites and as well as their social media content. Out of curiosity, this also included older versions of the club website recovered from the Internet Archive (Wayback Machine).
What I extrapolated from this were a set of habits that the largest clubs in the UK used. On the other hand, the results of the social media comparison were inconclusive as I did not find correlations between the size of a club with the data collected.

5. Synthesis and Analysis

The research I gathered up to this point went a long way to suggest answers to my research questions and define the problems in an actionable way. I went on to present this to the committee and members.

a. What do visitors set out to achieve with the website?

  • Basic tasks for the website were to look up meeting dates, contact the club, book speeches and view upcoming meeting agendas

b. How do people find out about the club’s meetings?

  • 50/50 newcomers either found the club online or through word-of-mouth
  • People learned of individual meets through email newsletters, announcements from previous meetings or the website

c. What does the club do to engage with its audience, outside its meetings?

  • The club reaches its audience predominantly through its email newsletters
  • Social media channels showed little engagement
  • The largest clubs in the UK shared a set of practices on their websites. However, the impact of social media showed no apparent evidence to support any relationship with the size of the club

d. How do people get involved in taking speaking roles at our meetings?

  • People expressed an interest in taking roles but did not know how to go about signing up for them
  • Some people showed reluctance to take roles upon misconceptions on the level of involvement needed, suggesting unfamiliarity or a knowledge gap with each of the roles

6. Personas

The visitor survey and membership forms collected demographics information with a wide spread of occupations that helped me to create personas of our prospective audience.

7. Brainstorming

I combined personas and insights to create a set of statements that described the problems and used “How might we…?” statements as a basis for designing solutions. A brainstorming session with committee members helped generate a list of features to consider for implementation.

8. Feature List Prioritisation

My next step was to understand the relative importance of each of the features by putting them to the members. I created a SurveyMonkey survey for members to rank these features according to how valuable they were to them. At the same time, I weighed up the effort to implement these features using my experience as a web developer. The result was a Value/Effort matrix that I can use to scope and prioritise the site development.

9. Information Architecture

I ran two card-sorting exercises, once again with the members. The first was an open card sort, where I listed the prioritised features and asked them to group them in the way that was natural to them.
To help me process the results (as they were quite mixed), I systematically arranged the groupings visually to look for similarities in the language used. Out of those results, I then ran a closed card sort with a separate group of members to confirm the information architecture for the site.

10. User Flows & Wireframes

Since the beginning of the project, there were constraints that our design had to adhere to, chief amongst which are the external sites that the club uses to manage meetings and online learning. As some of the tasks that users wanted to achieve involved connecting to these external sites, I focused on those scenarios for my user flow designs.
During wireframing, we wrote the actual copy for inclusion in the final web design, mainly to put a focus on the content impact and lend authenticity to the user testing. Recruitment for the user testing, however, was slow and decided to postpone the user testing to move onto prototyping.

11. Prototype

The first step I took for prototyping was to decide whether to use the branding from the organisation with which the club is affiliated or use a custom styling.
I picked out colours and fonts that I felt represent the vibrance and colourfulness of the seaside city, then laid out both stylings for comparison. The city of Brighton and Hove has an image of creativity and independence, so we opted for the custom styling in keeping with that spirit.

12. Development

I chose to use the Divi theme for its rapid WYSIWYG editing for responsive sites and easy portability. The first iteration of the site went live on 1st July.

13. Usablity Testing

Recruiting took a longer than intended, but we managed with three testers who did their testing with the live site. In the test, I asked them to navigate the website to complete a set of tasks, while I observed their screen behaviour and their thoughts out loud.

The rate in which they completed tasks was high on all except one, where they had trouble locating information on where to download some forms. I noticed that they persisted by navigating to alternative pages rather than scroll further the page (where the content was).

I resolved this by adding “quick links” sections at the top of each page, saving users the need to look through for the information. I confirmed this with additional tests.

Deliverables

Here is a round-up of the deliverables included in this project:

  • Competitor analysis
  • Research summaries
  • Personas
  • User flows
  • IA / Sitemap
  • Interactive wireframes
  • Interactive prototypes
  • Website design

Reflections

What would I keep doing?

  • Staying proactive and sensitive to the needs of users by addressing quick wins
  • Experimenting with ways to organise research information (with Miro or Mural)
  • Adopting and learning new tools to improve work flow

What should I stop doing?

  • Taking social media posts at face value, and look for other ways to quantify engagement other than using “vanity statistics”

What could I start doing?

  • Begin recruiting for the usability testers once you have your personas or as early as possible. Alternatively, make use of unmoderated test tools like UserTesting or UsabilityHub to test for task completion
  • Do pilots on surveys to gauge their difficulty and level of understanding before giving them to the audience
  • Spend time (where possible) to introduce surveys verbally to mitigate problems with understanding
  • We missed the opportunity to gauge the impact on the club experience when COVID-19 initially took hold, as we held the assumption that meetings would return to normal

What did I like about this project?

  • Collaborating with and learning about the different members of a non-profit organisation
  • The club was open for me to perform user research and were excited about the research insights I found
  • I was pleased to work on a project where its direction came entirely through research insights
  • The joy of seeing things unfolding and coming to fruition when club members contributed to writing content.
  • Excellent opportunity to practice research presentations and get feedback too
  • Encouraging to have the work recognised by members of other speakers clubs, and a good sense that the hard work is going to make a positive difference to the club and others who can refer to the content
  • The work on revamping the online presence was more than just the website, as a marketing drive on social media posts and email newsletters accompanied the new image

What were the challenges in this project?

  • Difficulty recruiting testers in time for the interactive wireframes usability test and so I decided to postpone the tests until after the site went live
  • There were many incomplete responses to my visitor survey, particularly on questions that asked people to voice frustrations or suggestions for improvement
  • Finding pain points from the survey was difficult, so I included comments I found on membership applications as an alternative source
  • The advent of COVID-19 and social distancing measures forced research activities to go online. Made the best of the situation by using Zoom meetings to give on-the-fly presentations