It is that time again at New York University (NYU). A new semester is around the corner. The university's orientation team is getting ready to organize another week full of activities to welcome incoming students from all over the country and around the world to campus. Not only will there be many new incoming students, their friends and families will also be there to support, check out the campus and enjoy the city.
To help the orientation team provide better support to incoming students, I will be proposing a digital interactive Welcome Week billboard to welcome students and their families. The interactive billboard will be displayed on multiple screens on campus to show orientation information, advertise student organizations and events, and serves as a means of university branding.
Role: Individual project
▪️ About incoming students
As part of the initial research phase, I gathered some interesting statistics on class of 2018, which helped me understand a little bit more about NYU student body as well as other potential target users for my project.
As one can probably agree, NYU has a large number of students and faculty members who are from other parts of the U.S. and the world. As a result, help with orientation information and navigating around campus during their first week would be appreciated.
▪️Existing primary platform for event information
What I also learned as someone who has been to last Fall welcome week event, NYU provides students NYU Mobile - a smartphone app that helps with orientation event information. NYU Mobile is the only centralized platform where incoming students can rely on for event information
▪️Existing billboard and communication design
Current billboards for Welcome Week:
is usually displayed on a few different monitors indoors at 1-2 main building locations
is in a form of a slideshow of eye-catching graphic
can display different content depending on locations
doesn't include instant updates of event details such as time or location changes, as they are fixed graphic designs for visual communication
❗️ Observations from preliminary research:
NYU has a large number of incoming students who are from out of state and need help with campus navigation, orientation event planning as well as information of how to be involved and become part of new community through student clubs and organizations
Current Welcome Week billboards are static, includes slideshows of images, and currently doesn't allow interaction with users.
NYU Mobile app provides different types of assistance, such as event listing, campus map, etc. Although it is useful, relying solely on this app may not be the the ideal solution for a new student for navigating a whole day (which usually starts from 9:00AM-8:00PM or later) or an entire week full of events, updates, agenda changes, with lots of walking on one's feet, not to mention other unexpected circumstances.
There are many opportunities to address these challenges via a creative solution in the form of a digital interactive billboard.
But first, let's hear from my target users and other stakeholders to better understand their pain points with orientation week navigation and how my digital interactive billboard can potentially help.
Three groups of stakeholders were identified whom I wanted to have conversations with in order to gain a better understanding of the current state and what I can do to help.
(1) Incoming Students | these are the main stakeholders, "target customers" that Welcome Week and all the associated materials and communication are designed to support.
(2) Friends and Families | these are very important supporting stakeholders. They are a strong source of mental support to incoming students; their presence can make a significant difference in the students' experience during Welcome Week.
(3) Welcome Week Events Organizers | these stakeholders are the sources of information; they provide and organize important input to create a successful Welcome Week for incoming students.
I created three (3) sets of questionnaires. Each questionnaire includes questions specific for each group of stakeholders.
Interviews were conducted over the phone and in person.
Each representative of stakeholder groups were all from different background, and were able to provide great stories of their Welcome Week experience as well as feedback on how they feel, their utilization of available resources.
▪️Insights from Users' Stories
Listening to stories from the stakeholders and capturing them in high-leveled storyboarding, I was able to develop empathy for the challenges they experienced. As someone who was once an incoming student, some of those stories sounded familiar, others were new to me. Overall, the stories were insightful, and users were able to open up more as I started asking questions that they can relate to, such as:
"What happened? Why were you late for the international student orientation even though you had the NYU app? What went wrong?
"How did you miss the comedy show that night? Details were listed in the mobile app, weren't they?"
"What do you think about the billboards? Were they helpful or mostly for display?
IDENTIFYING PAIN POINTS
▪️Observations from stakeholders's stories
▪️Major Pain Points
" How can I create a billboard that is not only helpful to incoming students, but also offers engaging interactions that will improve the overall experience of the students and their loved ones during their time at university welcome week? "
▪️High-level Information Architecture
▪️Wire-framing with low-fidelity paper prototype
▪️User test with paper prototype
Conducting usability test at this stage, my goal is to determine early if user flow makes sense, and if overall structure of information and user interaction are efficient and effective.
User test participants are both students and students' families/friends. Some of the feedback include:
"I like that the billboard is interactive, and that draws my attention."
"Too much tapping in this section... This part here can just be a quick slideshow."
"I didn't think I would see this when I tapped here..."
PREPARATION FOR HI-FIDELITY PROTOTYPING
▪️Reflection on usability test
Users enjoy billboard's interactive elements but not too much interaction (not too much tapping or touching screen when it's not necessary; for example, unless user needs to make choices, interaction may not enhance experience)
Interaction with billboard helps delivering information more effective and engaging
Users don't want too much text
Users would love a fun interactive feature such as selfie-taking booth with family and friends
▪️Visual design guidelines
Color theme: shades of purple and white (NYU's signature color), on dark background ▶︎ visually popping images and text
Text font: Helvetica Neue ▶︎ simple, yet clear communication of information which is much needed when users are in a hurry and need to be able to see and understand the information in the most straightforward and effective manner.
Uniformed visual structure limited to first 2-3 screens up until user selects specific categories of information ▶︎Different ways of presenting different types of information makes the interaction more interesting on a billboard and not so much like a phone app (where every step of user flow is usually highly uniformed in terms of UI).
HIGH FIDELITY PROTOTYPE
▪️User flow demonstrated in high fidelity prototype
▪️Billboard provides users helpful information through engaging interactions
▪️Navigation from current location
▪️Featured student clubs and organizations by categories
▪️Event information is shown by user's choice of date and event type
▪️Fun, memory-creating Welcome Selfie feature