The Calendar Page is the 2nd most visited page on the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Archive (BAMPFA) website. A number of desired features sparked debate on whether a redesign would improve the page's usability. However, no user research had been done to support the suggested changes. Therefore...
how might we improve BAMPFA's calendar page so that visitors can more easily navigate to the information they are seeking?
The BAMPFA Calendar Page redesign focused on improving navigation through the calendar of events. Grounded in user research, the new features and layout changes aimed to create a better user experience for finding relevant event information.
Gathering information about visitors
Before considering any changes with the current interface, I wanted to find out more from BAMPFA’s visitors about their experiences with the website in general. The website contains comprehensive information about the museum and its artifacts and films, as well as ongoing and past exhibitions.
Interviews were an effective way to learn more about why and how users use the BAMPFA website - and the Calendar Page in particular. While planning my interviews, I discovered that not only do museum visitors use the website, museum employees also use the website extensively to get the most up-to-date information. I interviewed 11 people in total, including museum visitors and employees.
Despite interviewing different types of users, commonalities in the responses surfaced after synthesizing the information into an affinity diagram. The main insights included:
Personas and User Journeys
Another way of synthesizing the interviews was creating user personas that focused on different user goals and motivations. I used the personas to generate unique user scenarios, and then map out how a user might complete the scenario on the current website.
The user journey map helped me pinpoint which parts of the scenario were currently difficult to accomplish and/or raised frustrations. These were the prime areas for design improvements.
Gathering information on site interaction behavior
I used Google Analytics to examine users' behaviors on the website in more depth. The most common actions after landing on the Calendar Page were:
#1. Staying on the page in the default month view
#2. Viewing the page in week view (5% of the sessions)
#3. Navigating to other months
#4. Applying filters - the most common was filtering by film
The second point was the most interesting to me - why did only 5% of the sessions viewed the page in week mode? My theory was that people might not notice the option to view the calendar in two different modes, and maybe making this option more apparent on the page would drive more people to use it.
Additionally, since viewing other months' calendar was one of the most common actions, I wanted to make sure that the redesign left in the ability to easily accomplish this.
The final list of features to add or change on the Calendar Page and beyond included:
• Add a date picker to jump to a specific day
• Add a "back to top" arrow on the page
• Add a filters menu and date picker within the fixed header in mobile
• Improve the week/month mode UI
The design changes would be futile if users did not find them to improve the experience of finding information on the Calendar Page. I conducted usability testing with paper versions of the wireframes with the following tasks on the mockup:
The main insights from the 4 usability test sessions include:
It was clear even after 4 participants that scanning and scrolling down the page is the dominant behavior. As the project sponsor wanted to move forward quickly, we decided to implement the changes since they did not impede the user's preferred behaviors and goals, but rather aim to enhance the user's navigation abilities.
• Creating user scenarios and then actually trying to walk through them on the existing product really helped me see what issues exist and how I could fix them.
• Even paper prototyping can provide incredibly useful and convincing information on whether or not you are on track with our design ideas.
• Google Analytics can provide insightful evidence into how users are behaving on the website, and those insights can help inform design decisions.