Expanding the Used Cars Research Experience
Product definition, information architecture, user research and synthesis in collaboration with a UX researcher, collaborating with a data scientist to produce data-driven prototypes, workshop facilitation with stakeholders, requirements documentation and prototyping.
Through interviews and surveys, we also learned that used car shoppers are not interested in learning how a car performed when when it was new, which is what CR’s main reporting is about. They were much more interested in learning how other owners felt about the car. The closer they could get to speaking to the previous owner of a car, the better. In speaking with our car testing experts, we learned that, while we don’t test the same model every year, we do test them when their are major changes or redesign to the model.
The experience on Consumer Reports used cars information was pretty dire considering the rich information they’ve been collecting over the last 15 years. A used car model page was in fact a general description of the model and it’s performance over the last 10 years. This is not in line with how used car researchers look for information.
I came up with an information architecture that would support our user’s research behavior in providing details about individual model years and leaning on smart use of user-generated reporting via our surveys.
While CR does not test used cars–they only test new cars, their annual survey of about 1 million vehicles tells the story of how used cars are performing today. This data was traditionally used to exact a reliability score for every model year. I proposed new ways of using that data so that we could report on used cars. It was a major shift in design, product, and analytics
- Consumers are able to read and compare 10 years of CR data on car models, year by year
- Tighter integration of user-generated reporting and CR’s test data
- Alignment of consumer’s research behavior with the architecture of the interface and data that they find more appealing
- This architecture stemmed from my work with the mobile apps team, but is now being adopted by the website team
Initial Prototype http://4lwazs.axshare.com/view.html
Car Ownership App Interaction Exploration (concept: scroll through past and potential future issues)
Car Ownership Click Through (concept: predict my car’s future)
Car Buying Guide for iOS and Android
Product definition, information architecture, user research and synthesis in collaboration with a UX researcher, workshop facilitation with stakeholders, requirements documentation and prototyping.
Most people looking into purchasing a new car tend to focus on which model is right for them, narrowing their choices to a few models, ignoring trim in the beginning. Once they’ve settled on a model, their focus will shift to selecting trims and options. Another observation revealed that car researchers are in a mode of constant compare, hoping to validate that the choice they’ve made is the right one.
Consumer Reports car testing and reporting is second to none and a major driver for new signups. Despite it being one of the biggest franchise areas for the non-profit, there were many holes in the user experience that didn’t match how the target audience does car research. We were forcing them to decide on a trim or to draw their own conclusions when comparing models by jumping between tested trim pages in the interface.
In comparing the user’s research journey with the strengths in CR’s car testing , we came up with this statement: “We test cars to report on models.” This means, we can’t test every trim in a model, but we can use the data we have in the trims we do test to inform our reporting on a model. In aligning our focus with the major pain point of comparing and deciding on a model, we can be a better serve our members during the car research process.
To support the mental mode of constant compare, we represented every model with 3 data points: overall score, MPG and price, making it easier to compare models at every step of the journey. These were the three most important factors in beginning to compare models.
- streamlined user experience that aligns with how members do research
- turned a hole in the experience (the fact that we can’t test every trim) into an opportunity
- removed a lot of redundancies
- this architecture stemmed from my work with the mobile apps team, but soon after was adopted by the website team
BeThereNYC is about free, cheap, fun, here and now. It is a personal project I started tinkering with in Spring 2010. I wanted to create a site that listed all the free and cheap events around the city.
Every summer I’d aggregate the calendars from organizations like SummerStage and River to River into one shared Google calendar. I’d share it with friends who in turn would share it with their friends, and they found it so useful that I started to become known for it over the years. I made it a personal project to see if I can make a usable website with the same concept. I would fill in all the summer calendar and visitors will have the opportunity to post their own events or events they’ve heard of.
I refined this project while at ITP and focused the core idea: events that one could go to now or in the very near future. BeThereNYC focuses on whats happening around you, now and and with in the next 36hrs. Read about my progress on my school blog.
I built a JSON API for the data so anyone can use the events in their own project and the entire project is open source. It built with Node.js. You can view all the code or fork it on GitHub.
I used a technique outlined in this video, and sat down with three people to do user testing.
- I defined 5 most important things people should be able to do or know.
- I wrote a script for myself
- I started by asking about who they are, they’re level of comfortability with tech, and chatted a bit so that they are comfortable talking.
- I asked about their first general impressions of the site.
- Then I asked them to perform a task that I’ve outlined while talking out loud as much as possible, so I can hear their thought process. The tasks I outlined were:
- find an event happening near you now and share it with a friend
- find an event happening in another specified area later today
- add an event to the site
- At the end I allowed them to ask questions and would fully describe my project.
You can find a detailed script and the feedback on my student blog here.
People had the most trouble in adding an event and in finding the home button (or logo). So I moved the logo to the top, a more traditional place. I spent some time really crafting the event submission process which was something I had taken for granted the first round, and created the tree below to fully understand the steps need to adding an event to the site. I was also careful to use friendlier language in the form itself so it wasn’t so bland. Check out the final results: betherenyc.com
Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2010
Building on the success of the Best Global Brands 2009, we looked to push the design and architecture a bit further. As a result, the website earned an Official Webby Honoree nomination and a Silver Award at the 2011 W3 Awards.
I translated the designs into code and hand-coded the framework.