Final Exercise : The pain point in the University of Southern California’s official website !

University of Southern California is of the top 20 nationally ranked U.S colleges. They take great pride in their staff members and in their academic programs that lead their students to success. They’re also a private school and amongst their peers, they were ranked second place for cultural diversity of staff and students. Getting accepted into a college like this is a great privilege.

As a final exercise for my UX UI bootcamp pre-work, I was asked to find a pain point in a college website of my choosing, I chose University of Southern California’s web page. This is what it looks like.

The first thing I did to help detect a pain point was grab a family member and have them sit down to ask a few questions as I allowed them to navigate the website. I decided not to look at the website on my own beforehand and in the long run this helped me understand the confusion and the elements that took away from a positive User eXperience.

The first thing I asked the user was, what do you think of the website? Describe it back to me using short phrases. The user started by saying, “there’s a lot of information.” Then he progressed by saying it looks professional and very informative. I then tasked the user by asking him to go over the navigation. As he went through the different tabs, a list would drop down when the mouse hovered, he took note of the different sized fonts. The less words, the bigger the font, the more words the smaller the font. This seemed to have bothered him visually. He then began to look at a few more navigational tabs. He continued to try to navigate more and clicked once on a navigation button titled Alumni. I asked the next three things : Can you find the school mascot, does the school offer foreign language instruction for Arabic, can you find the nearest airport to the school.. None of these things could be answered because of a very troubling pain point.

When you click to enter another page, there is no clear back button on the website, you are expected to either press the back button on the browser or retype the address, at least that was the way it seemed. This was confusing, and because there was no clear return to home page button, the user searched for the mascot and the airport unknowingly within the alumni page that was limited to only a few other tabs like “ about us” . This concluded the interview. I repeated the interviewing process several times with others .

As I began playing around the website I finally figured out that there was a way to go back to the main page, but it was way too unclear for users and could easily be overlooked. The logo on the upper right hand corner was the back button, but there was no indication hinting to users the use of that button, in addition the button was on the upper right hand side which was highly unusual for a home button. In this exercise I experienced how something as simple as a button could severely hinder a user’s experience, the little details most definitely do matter.

To solve this pain point would be very simple. I would relocate the Logo back button to the left upper hand corner and add a simple back button icon to act as an affordance for users. This is my simple, low fidelity prototype on what the experience should be like. (I still have a lot of practice to do with drawing)

This is the main screen, you should be able to click any of the hi lighted tabs.

Once you get to a new page there should be a clear return home button.

When you click on that button it should bring you to the homepage where you can click a new tab and go back and fourth between the home page and other pages.

I believe this little adjustment will improve the user flow, usability and overall user experience !!