AditWork / About Me 

INDIVIDUAL PROJECT - 2016-2018 ROLE: Designer, Research, Information Architect
Case Study: Study Manager

How do we aggregate, centralize, and standardize all experimental data in a cell biology lab?


Exploring the Area of Opportunity

The goal of this initial phase was to conduct focused research on how biologists currently planned and documented their experiments.  

Given the design brief focused on experiment design, I conducted some initial interviews with one other designer. We interviewed eight people over the course of six informal lunch sessions, discovering more information about each scientist’s planning and experimentation process. These sessions helped us build an initial mental model for the process our software would integrate into. 

8 people, 6x [45min sessions]
Informal Interviews & Conversations

Outcomes: From these interviews, I started building paper prototype screens, making comments on previous designs, and quickly iterating through ideas.


Works Like Prototype

3 person team

The goal of this next phase of work was to build a working prototype that could be tested live within our internal labs.

The prototype we developed was made with a Framer frontend and a Firebase backend. I contributed a few elements of the Framer frontend, but it was mainly built by two other members of the team. My role was to continue to conduct research on existing methods of study planning and execution, and to iterate on static designs of the necessary components. 

After a summer of building the prototype, we showed the prototype to seven people in one hour UX testing sessions. During each of these sessions, we prompted users to try to achieve certain tasks without our help. 

7 people, 7x [1hr sessions]
Scripted UX Tests

Based on these UX tests, we found that the system architecture wasn’t working well. Upon further reflection, we realized more time could have been spent on paper prototypes before creating a works-like prototype. We jumped into prototyping too soon. 

Outcomes: From this phase of work, the output was a slide deck for upper management, sharing our findings, and showing our vision for the project long term. The prototype was only the tip of the iceberg for an envisioned app ecosystem. 

Refining Concept & Vision

Following the failure of the working prototype, we took a step back to refine the system and information architecture before restarting work on functional prototypes. I did this by taking real data and more biologists’ workflow, and trying to fit it into the proposed software architecture. 

Throughout this process, I continued the research, trying to wrangle the complex topics and standardize the process to a point where they could fit into the application. Some of the outputs from this research was more process diagrams or information heirarchies:

It also involved collecting a variety of existing studies from powerpoint presentations, word documents, lab notebooks, and other sources, looking to see whether they mapped properly into the design. 

To test the new system architecture, instead of making a prototype, I made a cardsorting activity that users could work with to test the system. The goal of this activity was to see if there was any format of information typically a part of the study that didn’t have a place within the app. It simulatenously served to test my definitions.

3 people, 3x [30min sessions]
Informal Cardsorting 

Once the architecture was validated through the cardsorting activity, I built an InVision walkthrough of the whole application. The screen were later styled by a UI designer to fit within the new software style guide being developed. 

Outcomes: The final output was a series of slide decks that were also UX walkthroughs of each page of the application. There were also slides that defined terminology, as well as where future applications could connect. The project was approved by upper management to be sent out to external developers to be prototyped.