Ironhack UX/UI Bootcamp Prework — Exercise 6

This is Loyola Marymount University. I tested its website for this exercise. Credit: LMU

The 6th and last exercise of Ironhack’s UX/UI pre-work is a simplified version of a usability case study. The exercise targets university websites.

Students have to ask a user to perform 3 tasks on a university website without using the website’s search feature and leaving the website. The 3 tasks are:

  1. Find the school mascot;
  2. Find if the school offers foreign language instruction for Arabic;
  3. Find he nearest airport to the school.

Student then have to create a paper prototype to fix the main pain point identified by the user.

Running the test

Credit: LMU

I chose to run the test on Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles: I liked the website’s homepage and thought the website didn’t look like a traditional university website, which often feature lots of sections and poor navigation.

The user I selected was a 28 years old friend who is bilingual in English and studied her bachelor in the US.

User’s first impressions of the website:

  • “The website is beautiful and very legible”;
  • “It is less crowded with information then other university websites and it’s good to have less information and to actually see the university” (Note: the homepage features a video with aerial views of the campus);
  • “It doesn’t look like other university websites which all look alike”.

Completing the tasks

The test lasted for 30 minutes and the user manage to complete 1 out 3 tasks.

Task 1: Finding the mascot (duration of test: 20 min)

The user couldn’t find the mascot:

  • User clicked on the athletics section of the website which leads to an external website ( This external website was down with a 403 error.
  • User tried to find the information in the news section: she couldn’t open a few articles and couldn’t search or filter the news.
  • User tried to visit sections that could have featured the mascot (e.g. student activities) and couldn’t reach some of them as they led to the external website with the 403 error.
  • User tried to find the mascot in another news section of the website, LMU this week, which loaded very slowly. User was fed up and didn’t wait for the page to load properly.

After 20 minutes, I told the user to stop the test because she had tried all the relevant sections and was starting to be really frustrated with the experience. I counted about 80 clicks during the whole search.

While the user didn’t find the mascot, she found that it represented a lion because articles she browsed through mentioned a lion.

The LMU mascot. Credit: SuperCamp

Task 2: Finding if the school offers Arabic language courses (duration of test: 5 min)

The user couldn’t find the information but guessed right that the university didn’t offer this course:

  • At click 6, user browsed through all the degrees and programs and noticed that there was Jewish and Irish studies and no Arabic studies. She said “I think there is no Arabic course here”. I asked her to continue the test to make sure this was the case.
  • She tried to open a course catalogue but the link didn’t work.
  • At click 13, she visited the liberal arts page of the undergrad section and told me again “I think they don’t have it”.

I told her to stop the test at this point because she had visited all the relevant sections where this information would have been featured if the university had had the info.

Task 3: Finding the nearest airport (duration of test: 1 min)

She found the airport very quickly but wasn’t sure it was the nearest airport as the website didn’t mention this information.

Identifying problems

The main problems encountered by the user were linked to the performance of the website:

  • slow loading time in the news section;
  • slow loading time of some images;
  • 403 error on Athletics external website; this website was referenced throughout the LMU website.
Screenshots of the errors identified on the LMU website

The users also mentioned that the news section of the website should have a search/filter feature to allow for quick search.

Solving problems

The main problem I identified was the 403 error on the external website. It prevented the user from finding any information on sports and sport activities as multiple sections of the website led to this external website. I don’t think the best solution to fix this problem is UX-related — if the external website had been working, the user might have found the mascot.

So I chose to fix the navigation problem in the news section of the website and add a search engine with filters. The search would be limited to the news section and display results in a list lay-out to improve readability.

New feature in the news section: search and filter, and new search results display

I didn’t use affinity diagrams and 2×2 matrix because I didn’t gather enough information to need these tools.

Wrapping up

Overall, I found the exercise interesting but I wasn’t very satisfied with my solution: I’m not sure if the new feature would really improve users experience.

I was surprised how fast the user became frustrated with the website and I wasn’t sure when to stop the test and if I should stop it or wait for the user to stop it herself.

I also realized I should have done the test myself before running it with a user. I probably would have selected another website if I had realized the athletics section was down. Lesson learned for the next time.

That is it for Ironhack’s UX/UI bootcamp prework!

The exercises were interesting and gave a good introduction to UX/UI. They allowed me to assess my strengths and weaknesses and identify the areas I will need to put extra work on during the bootcamp.

I am really looking forward to starting the session and new skills.

Thank you for following my journey !

Here is a list of the previous exercises:

Learning by testing was originally published in Prototypr on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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