User Centered Design Case Study: Commodore Cruises & Events
by Wayne Stedman, 2015
My long-standing relationship with Commodore Cruises & Events has afforded me some unique opportunities and I have constantly been striving to improve the work that I produce for them. Recently we decided that they needed a website redesign, because their website is the cornerstone of their marketing efforts and to also provide a better user experience for their potential customers.
To build the best website possible, I used a scaled down version of the User Centered Design methodology to Research, Plan, and Guide the design and development of the new site. For the past two years, I have had two visitor tracking services monitoring their current site and have collected a large amount of Quantitative data with which to start the UCD process. The following are descriptions of each phase of the UCD methodology and some of the results.
User Data Analysis:
On the Quantitative side I had excellent visitor data. I was able to uncover:
- Percentages of devices and browsers visitors used.
- Multiple data points concerning physical equipment used.
- How quickly older browsers were being phased out.
- Which web technologies could and could not be used relative to the visitor population where that technology was unsupported.
- Rankings of page popularity.
- Which pages were visited before and after a given page (visitor journey).
Without conducting formalized user observations, I had plenty of Qualitative data. Over time I received reports about user pain points. Company employees were interviewed to get more details about the problems users were having, as well as which features of the site that people liked.
An Experience Map and a set of Goals were created from the Quantitative and Qualitative data.
Assumption Personas were generated around the client’s product offerings. After cross-referencing data, I narrowed down the number of Personas. Four of the original Personas, ‘Betty Bride to Be,’ ‘Cathy Corporate Event Planner,’ ‘Steve College Student,’ and ‘Fred Family Gathering’ were based on respective product types. After the data analysis, they were merged into one Persona, ‘Suzy Millennial’ who had a high degree of familiarity with the usage conventions of a website. A secondary Persona, ‘Grandma Jane,’ was created who is less familiar with website design. For example, ‘Grandma Jane’ might not realize that an icon denoted by three horizontal lines is a minimized navigation menu and would become frustrated with the site because this person would not realize they had to expand it. Alternately, ‘Suzy Millennial’ would not think twice when seeing that icon.
The first round of Ideation was done with my business partner. Then armed with rough sketches, I worked with company decision makers to complete a second Ideation round. We discussed the data results and how the data tied into the personas. Numerous aspects of the site were explored and the conceptual design of the site began to come to light.
A number of User Scenarios were worked out and a clear idea of the user journey emerged for each type of product the company offered. One discovery was uncovered was that it was extremely rare for a single person to cross over and re-engage the company in a second, different Scenario. The Scenarios, combined with the Personas and User Data, were used to create Customer Journey Maps.
Due to the constraints of the project I was not able to conduct user testing with site page prototypes. Instead I generated digital prototypes for specific pages of the new site, which highlighted my research and presented some visual design options. These were evaluated and discussed internally and with the client until a single design was chosen.
I planned out and began building the first version of the website. Certain web technologies were chosen over others because they met the design and functional needs of the site and were compatible with Users as evidenced by the Quantitative data. I continued to review the data that was collected throughout the building process to ensure that the site would meet the requirements of the Personas and the Scenarios.