Ironhack Prework Final Assignment


Carnegie Mellon has a more than 115 years of history. His founder Andrew Carnegie, a self-educated working boy, emigrates from Scotland to Pittsburgh in 1848. He becomes a successful entrepreneur and industrialist and founds the world largest steel producer company. But then he takes another path and turns into activism, and philanthropy; believing ‘to die rich is to die disgraced’. In 1900 he donates 1 million $ to create a technical institute in Pittsburgh, which will afterwards becomes very successful and in 1967 merges with a science research center funded by the Mellon family of Pittsburgh. After the merger, the name officially becomes Carnegie Mellon University. The school has awards winning alumni in all over the world, (awards such as Tony, Nobel, Turing) as well as CEOs, entrepreneurs, artists and professors.

Carnegie Mellon University’s Website

The Usability Test

I made the test with one person, carefully watching her interacting with the website. Her first reaction was that the website was very ‘serious’ and ‘far from human touch’. ‘Seriousness’ must be something that a university would want to take credit for but the second comment, not so.

As was instructed on the assignment, I asked her to find some information on the website such as the school mascot, wether there are foreign language instruction in Arabic and the nearest airport. My interviewee could actually answer all of these questions but with lots of clicks and longer than expected due to page loading times. When I say loading times, I don’t talk about the usual internet loading problem but the fact that the change between pages is not smooth.

The main problem

The main problem was in the navigation of the website. The tabs on the upper part of the pages do not have a drop down. So each time a user is looking for something, s/he has to click on a tab, wait for the page to load, and then see the content of that part as well as the sub menu. Also the sub menu appears on the right of the screen, which is a little distracting for the user. For example it took some time for my interviewee to find out that the menu that appears on the right side is actually the same as the main tabs.

Because of the delays with loading pages and sub-menus, rather than trying to discover the website, she decided to use the search bar to look for the mascot. Finally the mascot was found in the Athletics section !

Solving the Navigation Problem

By simply applying drop down lists in the menu bar would mostly solve the navigation problem. A simple hover over the menu would appear the sub menus and that way the user feels more comfortable to finding what s/he is looking for.

I also completely removed the right side menu, as it was taking too much place and was a duplicate information with the upper menu.

Drop down menus with hover overs

Final thoughts

Before beginning the exercise I thought the main pain point would be a different one. Usually university websites are designed for the university workers, meaning putting forward awards, academic activities, etc. When I fist looked at Carnegie Mellon’s website I thought the problem would be more or less about this, and a regular user couldn’t find his/her way through my specific questions. However the problem turned out to be much more easy to fix: navigation !

I really enjoyed doing the usability test. And I am sure had I done it with more people I would find out even more problems to fix. Of course not all problems are priority and should be delt with immediately. As for example, even during this test, my interviewee was confused and distracted that some pages were opening in a new tab, — for ex finding the mascot, the athletics page — and the page was completely different than home page (visually as well as the url was different) but I guessed this would be discussed with the business first and understand the business’ point of view before coming up with a solution on this.

I thought for the next time I could record the test on video so that I would refer to it while analyzing my notes.



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Müge Çetinkaya

UX/Service Designer 🍀 | Was Digital Marketer👩‍💻 | Sometimes Freelance Designer 🎨 |