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Mortgage Rebrand Usability Study

Scoping & Planning: 

I believe the scoping phase is the most important part of the UX Research process. Get this step right, and the rest of the project falls into place quite easily!


I always start my projects by gathering as much information from the project team as possible. Understanding how the project came to be, what problem(s) are we solving, what KPIs/KEIs/OKRs is the team looking to effect, who is our user/customer, what is the team's definition of success, etc. are all essential questions that need to be answered in order to define specific and measurable research objectives. To gather this sort of information, I usually hold a research kick-off meeting with key stakeholders across the product team (e.g., product, UX, dev., risk, etc.). However, this information can also be gathered during daily stand-ups, sprint planning, or other agile ceremonies. 


After gathering all required information from the team, I'll put together a research test plan and share it out with everyone to make sure I've accurately captured the research needs for the project.


Select the 'Test Plan Example' button below to see an example research test plan I created for the Mortgage team at U.S. Bank, who was looking to ensure that the mortgage pages on were easy to navigate and use after applying the new brand standards to all pages. 


Creating & Reviewing Test Materials: 

After all project stakeholders agree on the research objectives, I'm able to move on to creating the materials required for testing. In the case of this study for the Mortgage team, I worked very closely with the visual designer, experience architect, and developer to ensure the HTML prototype was set up properly to enable a natural task flow for research participants. 

In order to cover all identified research objectives, I created a usability study with seven main tasks for participants to complete. Prior to testing, I met with the team one final time to review the session flow (linked below via the 'Session Overview Example' button) and tasks to ensure all stakeholders were on board with my approach. 


Running Research Sessions: 

Once everyone signs off on the final session outline, I'm able to meet one-on-one with participants! While I'm typically the only one in the room with the participant for usability sessions, I greatly encourage all product team members to attend research sessions via live board cast or observation room, if able. I feel it is extremely beneficial to witness usability sessions firsthand as it helps build empathy for the user and allows for greater collaboration when it comes time for analyzing research results. 

For the Mortgage rebrand project, I conducted sessions in our usability lab at U.S. Bank, which allowed the product team members to observe sessions behind a one-way mirror. After each session, I would debrief with the team for 15-20 minutes. During this time we'd go through each task to make sure I had accurately captured the findings, and after several sessions, we began outlining rough key themes for the study. 

Analysis & Report Out: 

Once all the sessions have been completed, I move into the analysis phase, which can take on many forms depending on the product team I'm working with. For the Mortgage Rebrand project, I worked through the findings by myself utilizing an issue analysis excel spreadsheet to group findings and identify themes/insights. However, this could also be a collaborative effort where I put all findings on post-its (real or digitally via mural)  and then as a group use affinity mapping to organize items into themes and insights. 

Once themes and insights have been identified, I put together a deliverable to communicate my research insights to the team. For the Mortgage team in this example, this ended up being a detailed presentation via PowerPoint (linked below via the 'Insights Report Example' button). However, this could be as simple as a bulleted list in an email, or a spreadsheet of issues in Excel, or an interactive shareout via Mural. I adapt my delivery method of insights based on the team I'm working with, as I want to make sure my work is delivered in a way that ensures the insights will be addressed and not just filed away for 'later.'

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