UXDI Week 2+3: Retrospective

Redesigning the IA of CCNY with UX.

Sep 28, 2015 · 7 min read

This a walkthrough of the process showing the things I learned + comments on the left to share my thought process/notes.


Prototype Link: https://invis.io/UQ4BJPNGW

Redesign the IA (Information Architecture) of an existing university website by conducting user research and using the newly learned UX Design skills.

Problems Found/Observations:

University Chosen: CCNY

Problems Found:

  1. Some content and sections on the website were totally unnecessary and users were frustrated upon seeing it rather than getting directly to the information they need.
  2. The current CCNY website is not responsive.

Our trainers shared 3 personas with us which would help us test the new concepts we were about to learn.

I gotta be honest. I haven’t gone to college in the city so this was a tough project for me to understand. For example: I didn’t know how John would go about searching for courses for furthering his professional development.

Quick scenario: John graduated from CCNY and wants to find out what options he has for continuing education to advance his professional development

More scenarios I plan on doing later.

  1. Jessica is on her phone visiting the CCNY website and wants to see upcoming events
  2. Mark is a potential student and is on the CCNY website trying to see what courses he can choose that major in political science

John’s User Flow analysis for CCNY vs other university websites:

Omnigraffle is a great tool for laying out User Flows quickly and easily

What I learned: CCNY lies somewhere in the middle while PACE was the most straightforward with minimum number of steps involved. I could definitely take some inspiration from PACE and apply this to the CCNY website and test it in my user research.

CCNY lies somewhere in the middle while PACE was the most straightforward with minimum number of steps involved.

This technique was used to compare the page templates of the CCNY website with competitor websites like PACE, Columbia University and Fordham University.

What I learned: There are some useful elements (sitemaps below the fold) in the other websites which were definitely missing from the CCNY website. There were also some sections that were redundant (same categories in the global nav and the side nav bar)

This is the process of taking the whole inventory of the website and asking questions like what, where, when and why a particular element is present on the page. It was a great mental exercise and the findings were even more interesting.

It is boring as hell and takes a lot of time but the result is definitely worth it. I am a big fitness nerd and I know it for a fact that most things that are hard to do and are boring are the ones that bring upon the major changes in design (and life). This and Heuristic Analysis happen to be one of those many things.

What I learned: Some elements didn’t make sense if only the user was kept in mind and vice versa. This reiterates the value of finding a happy medium between user and business goals and how it is a really difficult thing to achieve.

This also gives a great backing to your theories, findings and the design changes you suggest to the stakeholders (more on this below).

This is the process of digging deeper into analyzing the page from a micro/macro level. We test the website (only the Continuing Education landing page in this instance) and test whether it is Findable, Accessible, Clear, Communicative, Useful, Credible, Controllable, Valuable, Learnable and Delightful.

Making the sitemap of the whole website gave me the idea of where what went and how I can go about simplifying the overall structure (if needed).

I performed two types of card sorting methods to learn more about how users prefer the information to be laid out.

Closed Card Sort: I defined the buckets under which the users were asked to put the labelled index cards to get a better understanding on how users go about arranging the information based on which the IA will be designed/redesigned.

Open Card Sort: I noticed that About and Academics got most of the index cards so to separate them into further sub categories, I used open card sorting method to learn about what the users would prefer to group them as and what they would name them.

The cards were numbered and I created the below Google sheet to record all the data to make visual analysis of my user data.

Users tested: Closed: 3 Open: 2

What I learned: The closed card sorts helped me validate that the IA on the CCNY website was not totally off. The users put the index cards in the proper categories defined. I was surprised by this because I was expected to find vastly different results.

With what I learned from the card sorts, user interviews and other user research done. I had a basic idea of how I would approach the wireframe redesign. I responsive version of this website is necesarry because the current website for CCNY is not responsive.

I came up with the below medium fidelity wireframe which can be easily viewed/accessed across all platforms.

The sketch:

Medium fidelity version in Sketch:

Dowloaded a freebie and pasted my wireframe design in it. For this instance, only the desktop version of he site was used for usability tests,

This is the prototype I came up with. Sketch is really great to work for doing this. I started off not liking sketch as much as I love Photoshop but slow I understood how powerful it is and its focus on creating web/app designs definitely helps speed up the workflow. I love the artboards feature in it.

Presentation Time!

The presentation went really well although I couldn’t finish within the 8 min timeline. My presentation overall wasn’t as client focused as it was expected. I got great feedback from my peers and trainers and I will do a much better job next week.

  • I would have spent more time putting more of my thoughts into my retrospective
  • The initial confusion of not knowing what to do because I haven’t studied here put me into a crazy spiral which led to a snowball of pending work. Not a fun thing to do. So I am going to stay on top of my things from next week onwards
  • Timeboxing is a great technique and I should start using it more and more
  • The fast paced tight deadlines are helping us get more productive. I am excited for the week 4–5 project to get started

I have been putting a lot of time into self development and read a few great books as a part of the pre-work for the UXDI class and everything makes so much sense now.

Other books like The Power of Habit, etc also fall right in place when UX principles are discussed. Daily meditation even if I am not getting enough time to workout has been proving really beneficial to stay focused during class.

On Day 1, Luke and Stacey did the My Cultural Self exercise with us and shared their vulnerabilities. I have Daring Greatly on my reading list since forever so I exactly knew what it meant and it definitely helped me connected better to them as trainers. I am grateful to be directly trained by trainers of such high caliber.

I have the Personal Growth Mindset which Luke and Stacey have mentioned many times in class and I am not afraid of making mistakes. Obviously we try our best not to make any but in case we do, we end up learning a ton more from it. That’s one more thing I love about this course from GA is that even if UXDI is intense…they provide us with the safe space to make mistakes in-house so when we are out in the field, we are rockstars!

The more I learn about UX the more I feel that it can be applied in all aspects of life be it fitness, basic human interactions, friendships… you name it and it will be there. For example, if one focuses on being a good team member by listening to other team members, is empathetic, has the growth mindset and helps others, not only the person himself will have a better experience but also the other members of the team will have an awesome time.

The Feedback Sandwich: Luke shared the feedback sandwich with us which cracked me up.

Ready for the next week :)


    Written by


    UX Designer | Researcher who loves taking pictures, riding his Boosted Board and indulging in DIY.

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