How do you redesign a website that balances both business goals and user needs? During my internship at Adobe I was in charge of redesigning the customer facing certification website.
Come up with a redesign and strategy for the customer facing Adobe certification website.
role: strategy, research, UX/UI
duration: 3 months
I tackled the project in three phases.
Discovery - Competitor Analysis, Heuristic Analysis, User Research, and Stakeholder Interviews
Ideation - Persona Development, Brainstorming and Downloading Findings, Strategy Development
Design - Collaborative Iteration, User Flows, Wireframes, High Fidelity Screens
research & discovery
The research process for this project entailed domain research, a competitor analysis, heuristic analyses, user research, and stakeholder interviews.
As the sole designer on the project I developed a research approach that combined new and known approaches to practice and learn new skills. With the support of my manager, I reached out to stakeholders and current Adobe employees to conduct need finding and usability tests.
Leverage findings to inform strategy and design decisions.
Research best practices within our domain and discover how we can differentiate ourselves from others.
Assess the Adobe Certification website to identify usability issues that conflict with known best practices.
Capture the user’s voice so that it can be used to inform the design process and strategy.
Discover hidden issues or complexities and determine the stakeholders’ view of success.
Coming into this internship I did not have much familiarity with the domain of professional certifications. Therefore, my first step was familiarizing myself with the certification world, the types of certifications, and the types of companies that provide certifications for their customers.
I was also very interested in the type of customer that pursues certifications and the reasoning behind it.
The competitor analysis gets us up to speed in our business space by looking at what others are doing. This was one of the main tasks for the research phase of my internship. Understanding Adobe’s competitors not only familiarized me with the certification process candidates experience but also with the certification market and peripheral companies.
The competitor analysis I performed included four companies and was over 100 pages. Prior to performing the analysis I developed an evaluation criteria to objectively evaluate each company individually and in comparison to Adobe.
Due to NDA’s, I am not able to share the competitor analysis.
The heuristic evaluation focuses on contextualizing the Adobe Certification website among our competitors. This was an important step in familiarizing myself with the Adobe customer facing certification website. In addition, the heuristic evaluation helped me frame better questions for the usability testing interviews.
Evaluate the Adobe Certification Website using the same evaluation criteria as the other competitors
Discover opportunities and inspiration
Due to NDA’s, I am not able to share the heuristic analysis.
User research is critical to UX design and there is no substitute to talking to real users. In addition, user testing is contextual observational research conducted to understand users’ needs and behaviors.
After performing the heuristic evaluation I decided to conduct a series of contextual usability testing sessions to better understand the needs, pain points, and insights from task-based and contextual probes. Below are some of the findings from my interviews.
Create a script of questions to guide the user testing session
Conduct contextual 1 hour observational sessions with 3 users
Stakeholder interviews are extremely valuable in understanding the strategy and business goals for the project. These sessions are invaluable by giving everyone the opportunity to express their needs and concerns.
During the research phase I advocated for stakeholder interviews to gain a holistic view of the business side of the project goals. With the help of my manager I reached out to stakeholders in various departments and locations.
This was a great learning experience and gave me a better understanding of the difference between interviewing user vs. stakeholders.
Due to NDA’s, I am not able to share the findings from the stakeholder interviews.
Ideation: Brainstorming and Iterating
After the discovery phase ended I downloaded all of the findings and leveraged them to define the goals and approach for the design. The brainstorming phase is best done collaboratively and, since I did not have other designers in my team, I decided to reach out to other designers across the office to brainstorm with me.
The goal for this part of the project was to define the target user, their needs, and the vision for the project.
Understand who are our target users.
Understand what the target users want to do.
Understand the current state of the experience and how it needs to change.
The discovery phase generates tons of information and insights. Downloading the findings essentially means identifying themes that emerged in the research to generate a guided vision for the redesign.
The goal of downloading is to visualize all the findings and begin categorizing them by themes and patterns to uncover relationships within all of the data.
Create themes for the emerging patterns found in the research
Put them in front of you to better understand the information
Derive a vision statement for the redesign backed by the research
Understanding your users is key to meeting their needs. Personas helps us understand the needs and goals of the people we are designing for and, therefore, better empathize with their needs. Personas are not a single person but a representative of the entire user group.
Goal: Put ourselves in our user’s shoes and keep their needs at the forefront of our design
Research current Adobe Certification holders and target market
Use the information collected to create a persona representative of potential candidates
After creating the persona and establishing the vision for the project I moved into the collaborative designing and iteration phase. The goal of this phase focused on creating wireframes, journey maps, prototypes, and high fidelity screens.
At the end of the design phase I turned in research report as a self-determined deliverable and a poster for the Adobe Intern Expo.
Iterate quick ideas collaboratively
Create wireframes and journey maps
Create high fidelity screens of the user interface and branding
Collaboration is key to the design process. Receiving input from colleagues is a great way to expand design ideas. In addition, Integrating the insights you gather from the people you’re designing for is one of the essential elements of user experience design. Let the feedback of the users and stakeholders guide your design solution.
The goal of collaborative iteration is to Integrate insights into design ideas and prototypes to refine your idea. Since I was the sole designer in my team I decided to recruit other designers to collaboratively iterate.
Key Iteration Activities
Share insights with your team
Brainstorm to synthesize to your feedback
Sketch and build a prototype for your project
In the midst of my internship my manager approached me to design a temporary update to the certification site. The temporary site should include a quick description of Adobe Certifications, a link to the certification tutorials I created throughout the summer, and a link to the exams.
I created a quick spec for the engineer in Utah to update the page, you view the live website here: Certification Website
In addition to the requirements provided by my manager, I added a timeline of the certification process along with a “What’s New” tab that informs candidates of the new features released over the summer.
Wireframes are a formal communication of features and functionality, as expressed through the user interface. Wireframes can range in fidelity. Usually, UX designers use quick sketches as wireframes with one another whereas a more formal document may be used when presenting to a client.
The goal of creating wireframes is to communicate user interfaces, understand the user journey, and the information architecture.
Iterate through various ideas
Reach a high enough fidelity that can be transformed into a high fidelity mockup
High Fidelity Screens
After developing the final wireframe, the next step it to add visual design. In this stage with begin to include the branding of the company to visualize the final product. During my internship I was informed of a new branding style that Adobe was implementing which served as the basis for the visual design and UI approach.
Create high fidelity mockup
Explain the design concept for the new site
The design proposal for the new Certification website follows a one page content organizational model that contains all of the essential information on the Adobe Certification process for candidates.
The redesign is centered around the idea of Community, a concept drawn from Adobe’s company values, being Involved.
“We are inclusive, open and actively engaged with our customers, partners, employees and the communities we serve”
Therefore, sprinkled throughout the site you will see successful ACE individuals sharing tips and knowledge with potential candidates.
Organizationally, the page content is divided into three sections that mimic the certification path for candidates.
Section 1: Overview: this section contains a quick breakdown of the certification process as well as links to sections further down the page. In addition, users can learn about the benefits and perks of receiving an Adobe certification highlighting the Adobe ACE community along the way.
Section 2: Prepare: This sections is a resource for candidates to learn how to prepare for an exam and link them to all of the available resources for preparing. In addition, this section uses a tab menu for each Adobe Certification Path with an expanded section explaining each path in depth. The expanded section highlights the available roles for each path and a recommended certification preparation roadmap.
Section 3: Engage: This section is all about engaging and connection the Adobe certification community. Here candidates can access a newly formed forum page to ask questions and receive support along the path. In addition, potential partners or clients are engaged through the ACE Finder tool which allows them to browse for Adobe Certified experts they might want to hire.
Annotated High Fidelity Screens
Intern Expo & Reflection
At the end the internship all of the Adobe interns were encouraged to showcase their summer projects in the Intern Expo. I showcased my proposal for the customer facing certification website and it was an amazing experience getting to share my work with others. For my final deliverables I created a poster along with a project report.
The project report narrates my summer project along with an overview of the UX Design process. One of my passions is teaching and this book was a great opportunity to get my team and others acquainted with the design process and gain a better understanding on the value of human centered design.
Intern Expo Poster
Project Report Booklet
Part of my design went into production and I created over 15 tutorials received by thousands of Adobe Certified partners.
LEARNINGS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Learned to lead a project and educate other team members who may not be familiar with design.
Exit my comfort zone: I learned that in order to grow as a designer I needed to complete tasks that make me uncomfortable. Every time I worked outside of my comfort zone delivered a tremendously rewarding experience.
Don’t be afraid to take the initiative: I learned that the brief is composed of only the minimum requirements. As you move through the design process it is vital to address tasks that were originally not listed in the brief. Sometimes you will need to take the initiative and suggest deliverables that you know will benefit the project in the long run.
Reach out to colleagues throughout the company! One of the biggest challenges of my internship was working alone. Since I did not have a direct design mentor it was up to me to find one. Reaching out to other designers across the office not only enriched my internship but also created relationships and bonds that have stayed with me since I left.
Be prepared to advocate for design! Communication skills are very important especially when you may be asked to explain the value of your work and your designs. I learned that there will be times when you will asked to step and advocate for design in meetings and sprints.