UX review and cognitive walkthrough
Qualitative user survey with natural language processing (NLP)
Usability testing and semi-structured user interviews
Persona creation and customer journey mapping
Insight report and roadmap workshop
Wireframes and UX design consultation
Google Analytics, Hotjar, Google Colaboratory, Lookback and Figma
Justin Guitar is a successful coaching and teaching platform that has helped millions of people learn to play the guitar.
This project began as a research sprint focusing on understanding opportunities for improving retention and user experience within Justin's Grade 1 Beginner Guitar Course.
Justin was so happy with the outcomes of this sprint that he took us on for massive website re-design project, in which 3-in-1 websites were built: an online learning platform, a user dashboard with a practice assistant tool and an e-commerce site.
Just me! 💁♀️
In the initial research phase, my challenge was to determine where the drop off was occurring on the beginner course, what causes students to give up on the course and what can be done to increase student engagement and retention.
I conducted a comprehensive assessment of the Justin Guitar website, integrating qualitative and quantitative insights to expose key opportunities for improvement within the user journey.
I interviewed key stakeholders to determine:
Value proposition benchmarks
A shared understanding of high level goals
A shared understanding of Phase 1 goals
An introduction to audience
Understanding of main competitors
I conducted a comprehensive usability review of Justin's website informed by Nielsen's heuristics, ISO’s 7 dialogue principles, Shniederman’s 8 golden rules of dialog design and Tog’s 16 principles of interaction design. I scored the site on value proposition, information architecture, tone and communication, visual design, usability and user control, credibility and search to help establish areas in most need of improvement.
I then worked through a task-based cognitive walkthrough, focusing on task within the beginner journey to establish key usability issues.
I conducted a competitor analysis on 4 key competitors to establish Justin's comparative strengths and weaknesses, as well as market gaps and opportunities for differentiation.
I analysed the analytics data from Google Analytics and Hotjar (heatmaps, scroll maps and visit recordings) to better understand user behaviour on the site.
The insights from this data gave me a quantitative overview of behaviour that I could then dig deeper into using qualitative methods.
I created a short Typeform survey with open ended questions that subscribers to Justin's newsletter were invited to complete.
An incredible 13,140 (not a typo 😳) people took part. I used machine learning and a natural language processing script to help me to analyse the breadth of responses, and used manual analysis for a few hundred responses to increase my confidence in the analysis results.
I conducted 5 usability tests with a focus on the mobile experience, which the Google and Hotjar analytics data indicated had the biggest user experience issues. The usability tests focused on 3 primary tasks within the beginner journey on the site, and were followed up with semi structured interviews to allow me to explore the motivations and frustrations of Justin's users in depth.
I completed 5 additional user interviews to give me further insight to how Justin's students experience learning to play guitar.
Based upon the culmination of my research, I developed 3 key personas and associated customer journey maps to highlight areas for improvement, opportunities existing within the user journeys and suggestions for change.
The project culminated in an in-depth insight report (parts of which you can see here) and a roadmapping workshop with Justin, where I explained the outcomes of my research and highlighted my design suggestions for improving the beginner experience.
Cassandra Cardiff (UX design) and Barbara Buelen (UI design)
After the success of this project, we were then commissioned to do a complete UX/UI re-design of the Justin Guitar website. This was done over the course of 7 design sprints focusing on an online learning platform, a user dashboard with a built in practice assistant tool and an e-commerce site, with design variations for logged-in/logged-out users. The designs were deeply informed by the prior research sprint.
Sprints 1 and 2 focused on restructuring the courses to make sure they flowed intuitively, while also ensuring that the visual designs and search bar were encouraging and directing students to the right courses quickly and easily.
Since users previously struggled to find their position within their current course, we recommended developing the site to remember where logged in students left off and integrated fast links to current lessons in the user dashboard (sprint 4).
My research showed that users were struggling to use the search function on the website, so much so that they were using Google search to try to find specific content on the Justin Guitar website. We improved the search by adding faceted results, catering to all search types and organising the results in order by relevance to help users find what they need quickly.
During user interviews it transpired that although Justin's students knew of a colour graded system, very few of them knew the order of the colour grades or even which colour grade they were currently in. We re-designed the courses page by associating the colour bands with numbers to help students understand the order, and created a coloured circle around the profile pictures of logged in users to demonstrate their current grade.
As there are thousands of lessons on Justin Guitar, I created a high level, colour coded sitemap highlighting which templates should be used where to assist in developer hand off.
Sprint 3 focused on the song section of the site. To help users identify songs appropriate for their level quickly, we added the colour bands and grade levels to each song so users could see right away whether or not they'd be able to play them. We made adding song lessons to individual practice dashboards much easier by creating a button beside each song. Since Justin wanted to promote his song app, we created an indicator of which songs could be found there too.
We also designed a song request board to reduce the number of song requests Justin and his team deal with by email. Logged in users are able to vote for songs on this dynamic board, and are linked to the song page when they make a request that already exists on the site. My partner and I were welcoming home a new kitten, Franz, at the time we were working on this... hence the song names!
My research showed that students that used Justin's practice methodology and/or tool found it hugely beneficial and cited it as a primary reason they hadn't given up learning to play guitar. Because of this, we knew that the practice assistant design was going to be one of the important parts in ensuring user enjoyment and retention on the site.
Sprint 4 was focused around the practice tool, which we completely revamped to ensure practice would be fun, easy to use and monitorable. Our tools allow students to create, share and download practice routines easily - all features that were previously non-existent and needed to be designed from scratch.
We also gamified the design to encourage students to practice more regularly and monitor their progress through an individual statistics platform.
In Sprint 5, we designed the user dashboard. These designs were informed by implicit cognition testing completed by our in-house data scientist to ensure user emotional response and engagement. We structured the user dashboard to be goal-driven to guide users in completing key tasks personalised to them on the website.
To encourage users to return to the site daily to practice, we added badges and XP points that are awarded through lesson completions, site actions (eg. adding a profile picture) and using the practice assistant tool. Phase 2 will include a leaderboard to further develop the gamification elements we created.
In Sprint 6, we re-designed the e-commerce site to make purchasing and accessing paid courses easier. We made the overall e-commerce area of the site more integrated to cross-sell other products the user might like based on their recent page views/purchases; integrated emotional design principles and donor psychology into the donate page to better share the Justin Guitar mission/impact and encourage donation; and created a help centre to reduce customer support emails and make finding the right contact easier for users where necessary.
Finally, in Sprint 7 we improved the user interface of key tools on the site, including the metronome, ear trainer game and resource downloads area.