• Alessio Ferracuti

Online User Research methods and UX/UI Interfaces

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

Today I am going to share with you insights and outcomes of one of the latest interfaces I re-designed; a free wi-fi interface. I will reveal how I have found the problems that are holding back users from using the wi-fi service, and show you how I was able to expose major pains of the wi-fi service through various "Online User Research methods".

About the company

First Bus is a well known company, and one of the biggest transit organizations in the UK. FirstBus is proud of their services and they encourage users to use their mobile application to keep track of bus schedules, and make sure to use their free-wifi on the new buses. That would be a very good tactic if both services functioned correctly. Unfortunately, for bus users like me and you, FirstBus is not keeping its promise by not delivering free-wifi to everyone.... and when the wi-fi is accessible, it's SLOW.

But... wait, How do I know this? Am I assuming all this non sense?! Maybe I enjoy spending my weekends writing about crazy things?

The answer is "Absolutely not!", Everything in this article is based on my personal experience, followed by a deep User Research that I conducted. All the information is validated, so please keep reading. I will tell you numbers, percentages, users quotations, problems, more problems..... and finally a delightful solution that First Bus users will love.

If you want to read the full case studies, click here

What is a bad User Experience?

I am a First Bus user my self, and I ride the bus on a daily basis to go to work. I overall enjoy free wi-fi services, and I access free wi-fi's whenever I get a chance, so I can save my own Internet Data.

My likely daily scenario on the Bus: It's Monday morning, I am going to work, and I am about to ride the bus for 40 minutes. When I sit on the bus, I take out my phone, I turn on the wi-fi, and I am brought to an Internet page with a fill out form. In this Internet page, I insert my first name, last name, I check 2-3 boxes, I confirm that I am over 16 years old, I accept their terms and conditions, and finally I can click on the big "Connect" button.

Very soon, I get a message saying "Error". All that effort I just made has not paid off apparently. I try to decode the Error message, I am not sure what to do now. After a few more tries, I still I don't know what the error is and I cannot figure it out! I definitely give up now... I guess no wi-fi today, I will try again tomorrow.

The same scenario happens to me around 60% of the times. A few times I am lucky, and I get access to the wi-fi.

After many of this scenarios, I was very frustrated, and I began researching solutions.

How I do User Research online

One day I go on Google, and I type in one of the companies' name that provides FirstBus with free wi-fi. While I was typing the name of the company in the google search bar, a few results came out:

“How to connect to moovbox wifi”
“Moovbox wi-fi not working”
"How to connect to Moovbox"

Now that I have seen what people are looking for, I know that the problem is bigger than I thought. Never underestimate Internet's power, Google search Engine has just validated my assumptions on the interface.

How to do UX research through Social Media

Through User Research Online, I also discovered that people were complaining about the wi-fi service on Twitter. Users were reporting problems through social media, by using Moovbox and FirstBus wi-fi ashtags, you can find out more here.

These are just a few of the quotes from people’s posts on twitter:

“Your new busses have Moovbox wifi, but I can’t connect or register”

Apparently these ashtags were popular between 2012 to 2016 and not recurrent in the most recent years. I had the feeling that I needed more validations to it, and decided to dig deeper by running an Online Survey with FirstBus users..... and tha't s when I got everything I needed.

How to make an Online Survey for your research

For my Online Survey, I used Survey Monkey, but you can also use google forms, which are quite handy and completely free. For this project, I approached bus users through Facebook groups, and friends of friends

Thanks to this survey, I had found some really robust insights. From the survey I also discovered that 28% of bus users in Glasgow cannot access the wi-fi! The main reseason was that the registration is too complicated and it does not work. On the other hand, 12% of the bus users in Glasgow does not want to access the wi-fi becuase it's too slow, or because they don't want to give out their personal data.

Ok… now what?

As this is a small interface, and it is was very easy for me to re-design. The research I had done was pretty good, and solid enough to give the confidence to start sketching on paper a new enjoyable/human centered interface.

After the making of some beautiful personas based on real user research, I proceeed to spend a couple of days with pens and paper!

Just a few of the sketches I made

A wrinkled paper eventually turned into this:

How I made a prototype based on user research

Just to give you a better understanding of what it's at stake here. Do you remember the current interface? You better look at it if you have not. The current interface is the main reason why the project began, and users think that the old/current interface is not engaging and user friendly at all.

Thanks to the research I conducted and my design expertise, I am confident 150% of what needs to be done, and even better, I know what FirstBus users want!

Initially, the prototype I made, did not function. After a week of User Testing and Re-designing, I was able to come up with a much better interface (shown above and in the video below). Thanks to the new Interface I designed, Users can access wi-fi in one click, and be aware of everything they want, no questions asked.

Outcomes and advices

For this project I had a $0 budget, and I still came up with some great User Research ideas, that led me to design the right thing. If you or your company do not have any money for Research, don't worry, you can still make prototypes and surveys through free trials.

The most important thing to remember while designing or developing a product, is to keep in touch with users of your next product. Take a step back just like I did, and find out who your users are and what their concerns and pains can be. Don't be blindfolded, don't go straight into prototyping and do your research! Eventually you will find out that shortcuts don't exist :D

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