BAMPFA Calendar

Organization: Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Archive | Role: UX Researcher & Designer | Team: Alex Harris (manager) | Timeline: 2 months

the challenge
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 Solution
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.
Features, such as a single date picker, were added, in addition to improving certain visual elements based on the results of user research.
the process
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
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.
Listing out my own research questions helped me figure out what questions I wanted to ask and ask to whom. This allowed me to come up with efficient interview questions that mapped directly to my research goals. ​​​​​​​
Despite interviewing different types of users, commonalities in the responses surfaced after synthesizing the information into an affinity diagram. The main insights included:
• People mainly visit the website to see what events are happening at the museum. They search for a schedule of events, as well as individual event details such as the date and time, description, ticketing information, etc.
• The frequency for checking events range from everyday to every 2 weeks, and the date range varies from the current day to the next 2 weeks. Some mentioned they liked the month view to quickly scan what is happening in the future.
• Some already had a specific event or exhibition in mind, which compelled them to find more details about it on the website. Others generally liked to browse the calendar.
This is the quick and dirty affinity diagram I created in Excel to organize the interview responses. The column headings relate to my research questions, rather than the interview questions.
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.
designing changes
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
SKETCHES
I played around with different layouts and ideas for the interface through sketching on paper.
Wireframes

After testing out ideas on paper, I converted the sketches into wireframes using the current website as the foundation, and added and modified certain UI elements to create a detailed mockup.

Usability Testing
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:
#1. Your family is coming to Berkeley for Thanksgiving break and you want to see if there are any interesting films playing at BAMPFA during their visit.
#2. You friend is coming into town on December 15th and loves art museums. You want to see what is happening at BAMPFA on that day.
#3. You have an assignment to attend an event at an art museum, and so you want to see what are some upcoming free events at BAMPFA.
#4. You have a ticket to a film screening today, but forgot what time it starts. You want to find out what time the film is and how long it will be.
The main insights from the 4 usability test sessions include:
• Once realizing the page scrolls, most people preferred to scroll and scan through the calendar rather than using the date picker or other filter elements.
• People who were less familiar with the website did not notice the feature to change the view mode.
Implementation
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.
Main Takeaways
• 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.

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