Low-Fidelity Protoype Testing in Action

The Quoracle Lounge

a lounge of guides and experts to knowledge and discovery

Design Prompt

What is Quora?

Quora is a question & answer based website with a small community of experts that answer questions on any topic.

What is a Reddit AMA?

An “Ask me anything” is a question & answer interview with a person of specialized knowledge, typically online, text-based and live.

Our challenge was to design an AMA in video format that would leverage the existing expert user base of Quora with the potential to offer the videos as a paid service to its users.

Teammates: Rachel Truong & Brendan Pailet

Timeframe: Two weeks

Understanding the Problem

This part was the most crucial and difficult hurdle my teammates and I encountered through this whole project. If the problem was not understood in the beginning, we would be perfectly executing the wrong plan.

Are we trying to understand how people use Quora or Reddit AMAs or videos or all three? Why would someone want to pay for this service when other sites offer the same service without having to pay?

Our initial goal was to find out how adding AMAs, whether in text or video form, would help increase Quora’s user base. With this goal in mind we started to conjure up potential survey and interview questions. We soon began to realize that the questions we were asking were not giving us the answers that we needed. We were going to perfectly execute the wrong plan! It was time to reevaluate.

After discussing our thoughts and issues with our instructors, we were finally able to readjust our gears. The two most important takeaways from our instructors:

  • Our interview questions needed to be on a broader scale. Ask questions such as “How do you gain knowledge from an expert?”
  • When determining if something is useful or not, “Will this help with your design?”

With these in mind, we were able to dive into our research process.

Competitive Landscape

Research started with understanding the competitive landscape and how Quora compared against other websites that offered similar features. There were three aspect we focused on: text format, video format and whether or not the site had an expert user base.

Compared Quora to five other competitors with a focus on AMA format and user base.

Takeaway: We realized that each site excelled in 1 of 3 or 2 of 3 aspects, but none excelled in all three.

Survey and Interviews

The survey we sent out got 70 responses which resulted in 11 interviews. Although we kept in mind that we had to ask broader questions about learning from experts, we ideally wanted people that were familiar with Quora, Reddit AMAs or both.

For the 11 interviewees, we focused on their current behavior so we asked questions like “Tell me about a time you ran into a problem that you needed help with. How did you go about it?” Then we started probing into their current behaviors with Quora and Reddit AMAs.

“I like when actual people answer the questions about themselves, it’s great that … as I’m asking a question in Quora … it goes right to that stuff” — Luke Miller

From the interviews, we started to see patterns forming.

Pros and Cons of Quora, AMAs and traditional videos

Takeaway: People love to being able to rapidly scan for information. Videos are too long and content cannot be skimmed. Also, persona development!

Personas

Meet Tia, Susan, and Ian. They constantly reminded us of people’s behaviors all throughout our design process.

Tia likes getting the answer on the first try and using Google’s search engine and the top links. She dislikes long articles, too much information and being unable to find results quickly
Susan likes specialized topics, actual people answering questions and a sense of community. She dislikes occasional faulty answers, being unable to verify sources and when her questions go unanswered.
Ian likes a responsive AMA, getting his question answered, and upvoting and participating within a community. He dislikes poor worded questions, arriving to an AMA late and a lack of unique questions.

Feature Prioritization

Without this MVP chart, we would still be racking our brains trying to implement all possible features into our design. We placed the features on an affinity map where the x-axis was level of effort and y-axis was how essential it was to the product/business.

This chart helped us visually see the necessities for our design. There were two features we debated over which were live stream and premium service. Neither were crucial at this early stage in the development process.

Video Heuristics

We were able to get a better understanding of how people interact with videos from the Nielsen Norman Group articles pertaining to video usability.

Design Phase

All of our research came together for the Quoracle Lounge: a lounge of guides and experts to knowledge and discovery. This feature would include the following goals:

  • visual [videos]
  • support rapid scanning for info, support text [transcript]
  • expert response guaranteed by popularity [upvote/downvote]
  • ability to skip to the answer [play/pause per question]

Our designs started with low fidelity paper wireframes of the Quora main page, Quoracle Lounge page, ask questions page and video page.

User flow: Quora main, Quoracle Lounge, Ask question or Watch video
Usability testing in action
Changes made from first usability test of low fidelity wireframes

Prototype

The prototype was designed with the persona Ian in mind because his user flow contained the most relevant pages. Ian is the avid question & answer user looking to pick up a new hobby in his free time.

Prototype: Quora’s main page

Link to prototype: https://invis.io/R24HD1DFZ

Next steps

  • Testing premium service feature which requires more usability testing a research
  • Adding and testing features especially live stream and ability to chat with fellow community members to fine tune the user experience on a video page
  • Continued integration into the Quora ecosystem
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