Defining the Problem
Since its founding in 2009, The Shorty Awards has seen exponential growth in both honoree submissions and categories as new social media networks have been created. The entry process was both complex and cumbersome, resulting in both additional support calls, entry abandonment, and lower sales. Sawhorse Media hired me to help improve the entry and checkout process for the 7th Annual Shorty Awards. The new version went live in 2015.
Discovering the Solution
I was allotted 80 freelance hours to work on this project. To identify some of Sawhorse Media's initial painpoints, I began by interviewing internal stakeholders about some of the feedback they gathered through various sources, including calls with users and analytics.
Next, they suggested several professionals in the industry to interview. Working closely with their Senior Producer, we selected 5 users, with varying levels of exposure to the UX process, and little or no experience with The Shorty Awards website.
Armed with only my iPad and Evernote, I met our users on location at their place of work, or at The Sawhorse Media office. I walked them through the Contextual Inquiry process, reminding them to go through the current checkout experience with the understanding that I was only a passive observer, and that they should speak as candidly as possible about any thoughts as they perform the task. As they went through the process, I recorded the conversation on Evernote while taking notes in shorthand.
After reviewing all of the notes to reveal common problems with the experience, I created separate documentation in Google Docs for my client, Sawhorse Media. Each document was set up to include an overview of the user and a brief bio. Then, for each element of the experience, either modules or entire pages, I called out recurring issues using quotes from the user, a timestamp from the audo file, notes from my live observation, and a design recommendation.
With the research as a foundation, I was able to discuss the feedback from users with the client, and compare any internal findings with those from live users. As a team, we began to think about ways to tackle the problems uncovered with the additional research.
The ideas we came up with resulted in sketches. I received great feedback and direction from the client about how to make my sketches more useful and easy to read.
Delivering the Solution
Using sketches and feedback as a foundation, I began to create low fidelty wireframes in Axure. These would serve as the foundation for their designer and developer to create the next iteration of the checkout process.