UX Project: Donation Page Redesign – User Research (Plan, Report, Empathy Map, Persona)

User research is the most interesting and most important part of a UX project. In this part, my aim is to understand my users, understand how they think and what they expect from the page.

First, I would like to plan my research. With the planing I would have an idea of how big the project is, how long it will take and how much resource I might need.

Look at my research plan. The research plan includes competitor research, user interview and survey.

At this point, my UX journey starts officially. I need to find users, talk to them, understand their thought, gather their opinions, and analyze their needs. Actually, the beginning part is the most challenging part.  It is not about looking for users/potential users, scheduling a meeting with them, talking to them and taking notes. It is you never know what will happen during the process, as people are always out of control.

Before this project, I had another project redesigning a page with call to actions. This project died because a user I was trying to interview misunderstood my project. As a web team member, he thought the project was a new task without his acknowledgement, so he reported it to the department boss. But actually it was only my little personal project. In the end, I was told that the project was sensitive and I did not have permissions to continue.

I explained to the user after, and he apologized not reading my Email very carefully. This is a storm in the bottle, but then I understand sometimes there could be unexpected things happen at any point of time you would never think of. Knowing it and to avoiding it as much as possible is where our experience comes from.

Finally I gathered 5 people to interview, and created a survey for more users to involve in. From the notes, I got some interesting results:

  • Female users care about the feeling of the website. They want the website to show welcome, making them feel they are important. They would love to donate if the website reminds them of the home feeling.
  • IT alumni care about security. They won’t trust the site if they don’t feel their information is safe.
  • Almost all people I interviewed said they won’t donate the amount the website suggested. But almost all people who did the survey chose an amount I gave.
  • Some people are not sure what they want to do. At first, she said she would like to donate $200, at the end of the interview, she said she would give $20.
  • Interviews always bring new information. An alumni said part of the reason why he donates every years was because of tax reasons, which as a reason I had never heard of.

I have to say it is fun doing interviews and surveys. Talking people is fun, picking up their real thought and opinions is not easy but always give you inspirations of new insights.

To know more about what I found, please review my user research report.

Based on the report, I built the empathy map and personas.

Considered that the online donation form users are mostly younger people. Senior alumni or successful middle aged people would choose to contact the university directly, instead of filling online forms. So I did not create too many personas, typical categories are alumni who just graduated  and people who graduated for a while. Their living situations and mind set might be very different, but their final goal is to help, to show their love and care.

Personas answer the question, “Who are we designing for?”. For creating personas, high quality interviews and surveys would provide richer and preciser content. Now when I look back. How many people should be interviewed and take the survey, what kind of information is valuable, what information we can infer from the answers would be clearer.