User Test Planning and Facilitation - Survey Design/Writing

Northstar Research

Over the course of 9 months, I led a group of three of my colleagues to gather insights from 54 people on how to improve testing interfaces for nonprofits across the Twin Cities.
My Work Included...
User Research Test Planning

User Research Moderation

Feedback Data Compiling and Presentation
Americorps and Literacy Minnesota (Northstar Assessments)
Project Timeline
October 2017 to August 2018

For the year of September 2017 to August 2018, I joined Americorps (like the Peacecorps but whose programs are located in the United States) for a CTEP (Community and Technology Empowerment Program) initiative headquartered in St. Paul.

But the best highlight of the year by far was my being able to lead a team of fellow CTEP members in gathering feedback for newly designed and deployed Northstar Assessment Learning Testing Interfaces.

The Northstar Assessment website features various online assessments/tests covering a range of Digital Literacy topics.

These tests were created to address a growing need among community organizations to assess computer skills of job seekers. Job seekers can earn certificates signifying their computer knowledge to employers.

Northstar Assessment tests are used in more than 300 locations globally, including over 30 nonprofits in the Twin Cities.

In recent years, the Northstar Assessments became increasingly difficult to support due to outdated technology.

In late 2017, Northstar developers initiated a general redesign of 10 tests. In addition to the needed technology updates, each test/interface would feature a newer, more modern UI and updated content.

Northstar Before

Above is a screenshot of what the old Northstar Assessment test interfaces looked like in Fall 2017.

- They had outdated graphics/buttons/user interactions,

- Were made with Flash, which isn’t always reliable for all testing locations,

- And aren’t responsive and can only be used on desktop

My role involved leading three other colleagues (each working at their own nonprofit in either Minneapolis or St. Paul) in carrying out and gathering feedback on how learners used the new test interfaces, pinpointing pain points, recording bugs and other duties as the project progressed.

I helped with in-person test facilitation once or twice a week at PPL (Project for Pride in Living in Minneapolis) and GAP (Guadalupe Accelerated Programs in South St Paul), depending on class and testing schedules.

I also helped to coordinate Google Hangout meetings with my team twice a month to check in on goal progression.

Our questions in our testing sessions included:

Does the information in the test interface match what’s being taught in the computer class you’re taking?

Are you able follow the interface’s instructions when using keyboard keys?

Are you experiencing any bugs while using the Interface?

During our research at our nonprofit locations, we met users who had different learning needs, had different occupations and therefore wanted to take skills tests for various reasons (to complete their education, gain new skills, etc).

Phoebe Persona
Rob Persona
Li Persona

We tracked our feedback using Google Forms made available for 2-3 weeks, for each of our interfaces, from our lead nonprofit, Northstar Assessments.

Google Feedback Form

Below is an example of one of the test interfaces our users gave us feedback on. This screen asks users to fill out a shipping form for an online order.

Module Chnage

The design of the form reset button was located too close to the form submission fields and users were confused when clicking on the Reset button when they wanted to Submit their address.

We made the suggestion to move the Reset and Submit buttons around to prioritize the Submit button under the form fields and move the Reset button off to the side as an option for the user.

Our testing results included 3 Beta Interfaces Tested, with a goal of 15-20 testers per Interface with a total of 54 testers helping us over 8 months.

Thanks to our tester's feedback, each Test Interface had 3-5 elements changed.

A snapshot of the new Northstar Assessment Interface features:

Module with hotspots

1. An improved textual and visual hierarchy – the text and headings are sized and placed more effectively than the previous interface

2. New buttons on the top right of the interface allows users to repeat the question audio and the hamburger menu lists questions the user has answered or has yet to answer

3. The area below the interface has new features: a higher contrast progress bar, an "I Don’t Know" button which skips over a question and new Closed Caption, Mute and Fullscreen buttons

"We’re very excited about your project and testing. We’ve been looking forward to updating the modules for a long time!"        

- Feedback from nonprofits in August 2018 (during our Americorps Year-End Presentation)