Digital social media

MaaSNet

A research project to improve the usability of MaaSNet and increase user participation on the site.

THE PROBLEM

MaaSNet was created to be a platform for MaaS teams from different programs to collaborate and share knowledge. However, the site is clunky, hard to navigate, and no one really uses it.

MaaSNet was built using a website template modeled on common social media platforms. The site has a variety of features, but they are disjointed and the function of some features isn't clear. While the look of the site is nice, the site is difficult to navigate. The primary goal of the site is to facilitate collaboration, but the collaboration features of the site are hard to navigate to and confusing to use.

The site was built based on the idea of fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing, but no users were involved in the initial development of the site. This project would be the first time user input was gathered and applied to improving the site's usability.

HIGH LEVEL TIMELINE

4 weeks to conduct research. 1 week to analyze results and present findings.

MAKE OF THE TEAM

The team consisted of myself as the sole researcher and two software developers.

KEY GOAL

Improve the overall usability of the site to better support collaboration.

MY ROLE

I was brought in as a UX Researcher to conduct user research and uncover insights to help improve the overall usability of the site. 

As the sole researcher, I laid out a research plan including goals, methods, and schedules for conducting research. I built surveys to gather feedback and conducted user interviews to better understand user pain points. I also conducted a heuristic analysis of the site and presented my findings to the main stakeholders of the project. 

Legal Research and Writing

UNDERSTANDING THE USER

In order to understand the users, I decided to gather baseline quantitative data through a survey completed by all users and qualitative data through 5 in-depth user interviews. 

I designed and conducted a survey of all the users of MaaSNet to establish a baseline of how they felt about the current platform. Since I couldn't interview every user, this would allow those not interviewed to still provide feedback. Once improvements were made to the site, I conducted a second survey to measure against the first survey and see if the original problems were addressed or if new problems had emerged.

I also conducted 5 in-depth user interviews. I ensured I had participants from every team within MaaS and from a variety of positions. This enabled me to understand how each team was (or wasn't) using MaaSNet and how MaaSNet was used by people in different roles. During the user interviews, I uncovered specific user pain points that aligned with the survey data and provided the means to begin ideating possible solutions to improve MaaSNet.

BREAKING DOWN THE PROCESS 

In addition to understanding the users, I also conducted a heuristic analysis of the site to look for areas of improvement.

I spent 4 weeks planning, scheduling, and conducting user interviews; designing and fielding 1 survey; and conducting a heuristic analysis. After I completed these, I spent 1 week compiling and synthesizing the results down to actionable insights the software developers could use to make immediate improvements to the site. 

After the improvements were made, I fielded a 2nd survey to gather feedback on the improvements made to the site. 

Image by UX Indonesia

MaaSNet needed to be easier to access

The user interviews uncovered that most of the users were collaborating on Microsoft Teams. They preferred Teams because it was a desktop app, which made it very easy to access. 

Changing MaaSNet to a desktop app, rather then a webpage, would remove friction and provide easier access for users to quickly jump on and collaborate.

The forums needed to be brought front and center

The goal of MaaSNet is to foster collaboration across programs through a forum-style discussion board. The current layout of MaaSNet reflected a social media layout similar to LinkedIn and Facebook, which resulted in users primarily passively scrolling through the activity feed.

By changing the layout of the activity feed to emphasize the forums, users could see active conversations

Leaders needed to get conversations started

The lack of content on MaaSNet meant few users saw any value in the site. 

By creating an initial push from the leaders within the programs to start conversations and add valuable content, momentum would build and lead to more discussion and activity on the platform.

Better on-boarding would help users understand how to collaborate

After speaking with the users, it became clear that they received very little guidance on the best ways to use the platform. This left users with no clear goals when they went on the site and led them to passively wait to be engaged.

By improving the on-boarding process, users would be given examples of the types of collaboration that occur on the site and how to optimize what they get from using the platform.

TITLE OF THE CALLOUT BLOCK

LESSONS LEARNED

When creating a brand new platform, you need to remove as much friction as possible and have an initial campaign to build momentum and get users involved.

People are busy. They have a full plate of responsibilities and priorities on a daily basis. When adding a new element to their day-to-day tasks, even if that element will be beneficial, it's important to make sure it fits in as seamlessly as possible. If too much friction exists, users won't take extra time or put in extra effort to make it work. They will just continue to use what is already working. 

Showing value early on and building momentum are also important for getting a new platform up and running. If users don't see immediate value, they will quickly drop off the platform. Having leaders set the example and actively demonstrate the potential value of the new platform helps set the tone across the company for how the platform can be beneficial to the organization as a whole.

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