June 2018 - August 2018
The NYU Tandon MakerSpace is a cutting edge lab aiming to foster projects at the intersection of technology, creativity and innovation. It features rapid prototyping and PCB production equipment, as well as advanced machining and testing capabilities. The MakerSpace hosts the Design Lab which provides NYU students with opportunities to learn from workshops, collaborate and receive funding for projects.
The original website of MakerSpace featured the various machines, training calendar, events and funding opportunities for students. The website had to be redesigned to incorporate details about the new Design Lab and consider the needs of the current students.
I performed user research and stakeholder interviews to envision a new website for MakerSpace, translate it into wireframes and develop the site.
Cherisha Agarwal, Raksha Ravimohan
We started off by interviewing our stakeholders to understand what their vision of the product is and the technical constraints associated with the implementation of the site. Our primary stakeholders were the manager of MakerSpace and a few teaching assistants who worked at MakerSpace.
Our initial interviews were open ended as we tried to understand the students' perception of MakerSpace and the website. The goal of the user interviews was to understand the following :
1. Why and how is the website used?
2. Tasks and activities the website should support
3. Goals and motivations for using the website
4. Problems and frustrations with current solution
5. Pain points and thoughts on current site
6. Expectations from the website
We interviewed students who were associated with MakerSpace in different ways, such as, students who come everyday to do projects, students who attended events, students who are planning to join NYU and some speakers who had been to NYU to conduct a workshop.
Based on our research and user interviews, we created three personas - an NYU student who primarily uses the equipment in the makerspace, an NYU student who uses the website to find out about the events that are held at the makerspace and a non-NYU professional who wants to know more about the resources at the makerspace. We identified the channels, goals and frustrations of all the 3 personas and mapped them out as follows:
The goal of creating this journey map was to analyze the user flow on the existing site and identify opportunities where the experience could be made better.
Once we had a clear idea about the users, their workflow, needs and frustrations, we proceeded to design the solution. From user interviews and stakeholder interviews, we listed the different features on sticky notes and grouped them into "Events", "Machines" and "General". After that, we included these points with the features of the existing site and grouped them into the same categories. This was done to combine all our gatherings and serve as a basis for the site map and information architecture.
The process of creating our site map included analyzing the various pain points highlighted in our user journeys, listing features that would address these pain points and categorizing the content in a more structured way for better usability. We also observed which sections needed to be highlighted better and which needed easy access.
We presented the sitemap to our stakeholders and took them through the entire process and features that were laid out. The feedback from the stakeholders was useful as it helped us fill some gaps, improve the positioning of some content and guided us in prioritizing the various proposed features of the website.
We started making low fidelity wireframes for the site using Sketch, Illustrator and InVision. During this process, we had to look at several web design standards and what level of detail to provide on the wireframe. We were often concerned about how the site is going to be implemented and if the layout can be translated easily. So, we decided to keep the wireframe as basic as possible and concentrate only on the flow and organization of content. Here is the InVision link.
We decided to test the wireframes on our potential users covering the 3 personas - "Student looking to attend events", "Students who use machines", "People outside NYU, looking to collaborate or get information". We started off by preparing a list of tasks for the user based on our core offerings and some critical sections that were difficult to place on the site map.
Since we were also in charge of implementing the website, we made a list of changes based on priority (in terms of usability and implementation), so that we can get started with the pages that are confirmed.
1. Highlight restricted materials
2. "How to use machines" infographic
3. Add software techniques
5. Forum for sharing best practises
1. Mini grant
2. Makerwall blog
3. Need and position for inventory
The MakerSpace team decided to implement the website using wordpress as it is easy for everyone to update without any code. According to NYU's rules for accessibility, we chose an approporiate theme that is both accessible and has the features that we want. We also checked for various technical constraints such as adding plugins and custom code. We developed the website by starting off with the most important features first and simultaneosly got feedback from our manager and professor.