Introducing Quora New ‘Ask An Expert Feautre — A Case Study

What’s Quora.com
Quora is a very popular online platfrom where people around the world share information and knowledge via Questions and Answers.

“Quora connects you to everything you want to know about. It aims to be the easiest place to write new content and share content from the web. We organize people and their interests so you can find, collect and share the information most valuable to you” — Adam D’Angelo, Quora Co-founder

The Opportunity

Quora noticed a growing trend for Ask Me Anything (AMA) style Q&A sessions that connected people with topics experts on websites such as Reddit and Twitter. They wanted to introduce this trend into their platform using the existing base of Quora ‘experts’ through video AMAs.

My Role

I have worked as part of a team of UX designers(Walter Trovato, Olivia Thompson and Penny Rance) to suggest a concept to this new feature in a period of 2 weeks.

How we did it

Double Diamond Methodology

We followed the ‘Double Diamond’ model. Divided into four distinct phases — Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver — the Double Diamond is a simple visual map of our design process where we explored the opportunity through research, defined the findings and infromation we gathered, developed and deliver a conceptual design for the new feature.

Exploring Quora.com

We started by exploring how Quora works and what they are currently offering to their community. Then we proceeded by studying the market and the competitors.

We analysed direct competitors of Quora(Reddit, Stack Exchange and Twitter) to study how they integrated Q&A on their platforms and indirect competitors(Google Hangouts,Periscope, Youtube and Ted Talks) to understand how they offer video as a communication tool between online users.

Competitor Analysis of companies that hold Q&A sessions. (left: Google Hangouts, centre: Quora, right: Twitter)

Quantitative Insights

We conducted a survey to understand how people currently look for questions and answers on the internet, and how we can implement this new feature so that it can be provide a pleasurable, efficient and recognisable experience.

Many of the results clarified some early assumptions, such as: Google being the most used search engine to ask a question, and people watching instructional videos on Youtube.

Results of online survey: How would they look for an answer to a question from? How would you decide if the answer is trustworthy?

Other notable results included:

  • 89% of respondents prefer google as a mean to search for answers to their questions, and then proceed to the displayed websites from the results page to view the answers.
  • The survey showed that people judged if a website is trustworthy through its brand, if it included experts providing information and community votes.

Qualitative Insights

To build on our survey results and to have better qualitative information, we interviewed both people who looked for answers online, and those who answered questions online.

Key insights from people looking for answers:

  • Text information is prefered as it was quicker to read if you are looking for a specific answer
  • The idea of engaging directly with experts for answers was exciting

Key insights from people who provide answers:

  • Pre-recorded video answers are prefered as it would mean that the information would be more accurate and carefully thought-of
  • Enough time is neeeded to think through the questions properly

A common key point from both groups was that most people did not know what ‘Ask Me Anything’ sessions were.

UX Methods used: Competitors Analysis , Surveys, Interviews, Task Analysis

How We Can Help

We analysed what Quora and other competitors’ current task flows of “asking questions”, “ providing answers “ and “conducting video calls”. This helped us define user flows and gave us an idea of what features might be needed.

Task Analysis

Task Analysis: Use Quora to ask a question

We created a task analysis and task flows of Quora and other competitors’ current processes of asking questions, providing answers and conducting video calls. This helped us define how the needed systems worked and gave us an idea of what features might be needed.

Who Are The Users

We next gathered the information from the surveys and interviews and created four personas that represented four key groups of people who would use the Video ‘Ask Me Anything’ feature of the Quora site.

Secondary Personas : (left) Mark Collins, (centre) Elisabet Muller, (right) Jim Pauw

We chose Samantha to be our main persona as she represented the largest group of Quora.com users, and therefore we were ready to develop a design concept with Samantha in mind.

Main Persona: Samantha Tumbull

UX Methods and Deliverables: Personas, Task Analysis, User Flows, User Journey, Personas.

What Features Do The Users Need

To decide and select the features that will form our new suggested concept, we looked into Quora’s objectives and Samantha needs.

We then prioritised the minmal features needed to develop and validate the our design idea.We used the MoSCoW technique — placing features in order or necessity and importance for initial development.

We conducted a design studio with 2 Quora users to come up with sketches of the design interface, and created a paper-prototype to test with users. We then created mid-fidelity and high fidelity prototypes to get a more conclusive and insightful feedback from users, and iterated accordingly.

Design Studio

From the design studio, we sketched the two main pages of our concept: The questions page where the community can submit questions to the expert and vote on the best ones, and the answer page where the expert answers via a video session.

Paper Prototyping

We tested our early concept using a paper prototype with the users.Since Quora.com is a mostly text based platform, users were a bit confused with the lack of details on the prototype. We had to upgrade the fidelity of the prototype to get more conclusive feedback.

Two key screens from the paper-prototype. (left) question page, (right) answer page

Some quotes from the users:

“How would I be notified when the video is ready?”

“I would like to see his credentials, to make sure that he is the right person to answer my question”

  • “How do we know what topic this is on?”

Mid-fidelity Prototype

From this test, we found out that users were confused with the notification icon and how it works on the avatar. Also users asked how will they asnwer be dispalyed on the video and as a text.

Medium fidelity wireframes, (left) question page, (right) answer page

Some quotes from the users:

“How would it know what I was interested in?”
“How do I log out if the notification and the avatar menu is the same?”
“How can I see my own question by video”
“Oh wow! It’s a video”

Ask An Expert On Quora.com

From the feedback of our users we iterated the wireframes and upgraded the fidelity to recieve a higher quality feedback.

After testing it, we re-evaluated how filtering and information was provided about the ‘Ask an Expert’ section of the website. We followed the theme of Quora by having ‘topic tags’ as the filter to explain what each ‘Ask an Expert’ would be about. We also wanted to include visual information about academic credentials (such as university symbols) as part of biography section of the ‘Ask an Expert’ page.

High fidelity wireframes. (left) question page, (right) answer page

Feedback from the user testing of this prototype was generally positive, and can be reflected in the following quotes:

  • “Do the highest voted questions get answered, or is it just a suggestion?”
  • “I would prefer a overall topic theme, rather than tags about the areas that they are experts in”
  • “I like how the questions skip to the top when the question is being answered on the video”

The Experts Side

Although Samantha was our main persona to develop upon, we created mid-fidelity wireframes for how Jim, the ‘expert’, would create a video ‘Ask an Expert’ session on the Quora site.

Medium fidelity wireframes for Jim creating and an answering an ‘Ask an Expert’ session. (Flow top left to right, then bottom left to right)

When tested, similar improvements were suggested, such as changing topic tags into a specific topic. Interestingly users felt that they did not need to include the preview option on the video page as they were confident that the content would be fine.

Summary

  • Quora asked us to create a ‘Video Ask Me Anything’ feature on the website
  • Currently users of Quora can only view single answers in a text based format
  • Our research showed that people actually want the option to view answers in a range of mediums
  • We created a proposal allowing users to get answers in both text and video format
  • We have areas to develop further in the next sprint (that can be seen in next steps

Next steps

  • Offer text ‘Ask An Expert’ sessions as well as videos
  • Include academic aspects to Ask an Expert to increase the ‘expert’ and ‘educational’ element of Quora (reading list, citation, bibliography, technology)

To view the high fidelity prototype of ‘Ask an Expert’, please click here: https://marvelapp.com/7b907d