This is a case study about Beat Corona, a fictional non-profit organization dedicated to informing the public about the global pandemic COVID-19. This a submission requirement for HNC in Creative Media, Dublin Institute of Design. Watch as I talk through the process here.

Client

Student requirement for HNC in Creative Media, Dublin Institute of Design

Learning Objective

After this unit, the student is expected to deliver the following:

  • Analyse the features and functions of user interfaces through research and
    experimentation
  • Develop a user experience strategy for a media interface, in response to a brief
  • Use industry-standard tools and techniques to create a user interface, in support of a user experience strategy
  • Critically analyse the outcomes of user-testing and evaluation to inform future development

Project Brief

You are to select a Movie Character who will be your Stakeholder/Client for the Design of a new business online. Your job is to come up with a usability strategy and design for this new Website Business. This project will include all relevant learning’s from the term including any additional researched and appropriate UX methods and practices deemed necessary for a project resolution.

Understanding the value of good Usability and UX is one thing, but actually designing better and more successful experiences and a usable product in another entirely. Remember all your techniques and be open to including others. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach. Not all techniques will be applicable for every project. Every project will benefit from the core techniques.

My Role

Entire product design from research to conception, visualization and testing

Project Duration

3 Weeks (Project finished on 20 March 2020)

The Client

For this project, I have chosen the movie Contagion. The movie is about an outbreak of a flu that spread all around the world.

Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) is a researcher for the Communicable Disease Center in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the head for containing the MEV-1, otherwise known as the Nipah virus, a type of novel influenza virus in the early late 1990s. Because of his diligence and courage, Dr. Cheever, alongside his team of medical experts, succeeded on eradicating the spread of disease.

As the world face another global health emergency with the rise in the number of people acquiring Corona Virus around the world, he was then again tasked to lead the team responsible for containing the virus and educating public on early detection and disease prevention. His initial study revealed that the disease has created a stigma within different population and thus, causing misinformation. He believes that this stigma causes a barrier for health education and compliance, which are key factors in preventing a massive outbreak.

​Dr. Cheever wants to take advantage of the latest web technologies to spread awareness to as many people as possible all over the world. He aims to create partnership with web developers and national health agencies in all countries to create an informative website that will be dedicated solely for corona virus awareness.

The Problem

On December 31, 2019, a mysterious disease with pneumonia like symptoms was discovered in Wuhan, Hubei Province in China. Most of the people who acquired the disease were vendors on a seafood and live animal market. Initial investigation revealed that it was caused by an unknown virus from an animal source that, until now, is yet to be identified. The virus was named later on as the 2019 Novel Corona Virus (WHO, 2020).

As the new year starts, the number of individuals affected grew at a fast pace. There are many cases at present and the disease has already spread to other countries. As this is a relatively new disease, treatment and vaccination is still nonexistent. This has caused panic and confusion to many people. And as social media platforms remain uncensored, a number of false hoaxes related to the disease has left people misinformed, which caused massive hysteria and stigma among different populations. Worst, it has sparked racism and xenophobia (Shepherd, 2020).

Reliable and accurate information resources such as the WHO website exists, but mass media platforms rule the internet and because they are more popular, people tend to believe what they publish, regardless if its factual or fabricated. In addition, health agency websites are not powerful enough to spread factual information as they are overshadowed by misinformation being spread in social media (Gregory, 2020). CDC and WHO have little followings and engagements on social media platforms, making it hard for them to create online influence which is important in spreading reliable data.

Strategy

The internet and social media platforms have been saturated with false information about corona virus. With the virus slowly creeping in the European population, the public should be able to differentiate and isolate factual data from fabricated information circulating online. As the UX designer for the Irish audience, I was tasked to create a product that will address this issue. The primary purpose of the product is to promote general awareness about the corona virus among the Irish public. Specifically, it aims to:​

  1. UPDATE the Irish public about the latest news and developments with treatment and management;
  2. EDUCATE the Irish public about early detection, prompt action if suspected positive, management, and recovery;
  3. ENGAGE the Irish public in disseminating reliable information to other members of the community;
  4. REFUTE misconceptions regarding the disease (racism, xenophobia, etc.).

The product will be in the form of a website. As most people use mobile devices, the website will be built mobile first and will be responsive to different screen sizes. This way, the website is accessible anytime, anywhere.

The Methods

1

Identify Potential Users

The first step in creating the website is to identify the target population that will most benefit from the product. Literature review will be done to identify the most susceptible population to acquire the disease as the website will be built to fit their learning needs. It will also help the designer make the right design decisions based on their profile and demographics. Next, their level of knowledge and attitude towards the disease will be assessed through a survey. A small sample will be selected. Doing this will allow the designer to know which information to prioritize. A user persona will then be formed based on the data gathered. Then, a story map will be created to understand each persona’s insights and plight on understanding the disease.
2

Literature Review

Secondary research will be done to know which information should be included in the website. Data will be taken from reliable sources such as the WHO, CDC and HSE websites.
3

Competitor/Similar Website Analysis

The third step is to analyze any existing website that offer the same service. Specific details such as lay-out, navigation, branding, menu and unique features will be reviewed to identify the weak points and strong elements which will be of great help when building the website. A SWOT analysis will be made to better illustrate the findings before making design decisions.
4

Design Phase

The fourth step is creating the site map. A low fidelity prototype will then be produced to test for usability.
5

User Testing

Once adjustments are finalized, a clickable prototype will be made and user testing will commence.

The Users

Potential Users

As the virus can affect all individuals regardless of age, gender, or race, the website should appeal to all population. However, special consideration should be given to the most vulnerable population that can contract the disease. This include the elderly, those with existing illnesses, and the vulnerable. Studies have shown that people of the age 30 and older, and those that have a long-term medical condition, such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes or liver disease, are more likely to acquire the infection. Most of fatalities that were reported were among people aged 80, and no deaths listed for newborn to nine-year old category (Irish Times, 2020). As for pregnant women, the virus does not pass the maternal-fetal barrier, hence, an infected mother is less likely to infect the baby unless there is close contact after birth.

In Italy, majority of the people affected are 51 years and older. Only less than 2% of children and minors have the disease. For this reason, the older population will be the target users of this product.

User’s Knowledge

To know what information should be prioritized on the website, the knowledge of the users about the disease was assessed. This was done through a questionnaire that was based on a study conducted in Saudi Arabia in 2012 for MERS-Cov, a flu virus similar to Coronavirus.

The tool assessed the public’s knowledge on key areas: general knowledge of the disease, precautionary measures, and management.

The results revealed that among the three categories, the users have most knowledge gap on precautionary measures and management of the disease. Specifically, areas of concern include knowledge of self-isolation, use of protective equipment, treatment strategy, and measures to carry out when exposed. For this reason, the website will focus more on these aspects.

USER PERSONA

Robert & Sarah Jones

A couple based on South Dublin and has just came back from a weeklong holiday in Italy. They are scared that they might have had the virus. Sarah has been feeling ill for two days now. She mentioned having a temperature. Robert, on the other hand, is feeling well. He is worried about Sarah.

Demographics
53 and retired, Sarah enjoys cooking and baking. She goes to a local shopping centre twice a week to buy her baking and cooking needs. Robert works in a farm with his two sons. Although he is 56, he still enjoys going for a run and lifting weights. He enjoys traveling with his wife, Sarah.

Learning needs
Sarah uses her computer a lot to find baking recipes online. She uses eyeglasses to read. She was a former primary school teacher. Robert has a little knowledge of the computer and internet. He finished high school and uses glasses to read. He likes reading books and daily newspaper.

Site Content

The goal of the website is to educate the public, therefore, the information on the website needs to be fresh, updated, and reliable. Online resource materials from public and private health sectors were carefully selected to fit the needs of the Irish audience. These websites include:

Similar Site Analysis

The goal of beatcorona.org is to be an informative website dedicated to educating the public about COVID-19. To date, the most reliable websites that provide the same service beatcorona.org intends to give are the WHO, CDC, and HSE websites. To better analyze these websites’ strengths and weaknesses, a SWOT analysis was done.

Based on the SWOT analysis made, a set of recommendations were made for the new website:

  • Create a branding strategy that will engage users on information dissemination.
  • Using a design theme will make the website more memorable to the users.
  • Prioritize/classify contents from the most important to the least significant information to promote webpage usability.
  • As target users include all population with special consideration for people age 30 and older, text and button size should be big enough to be read and seen for improved accessibility.
  • Social media buttons/links for easy sharing should be seen easily.
  • Web page must be responsive with full mobile support.
  • Call-to-action buttons must catch the attention of the users.
  • Include a fixed button for chat, email, and phone support.
  • Page summary will improve navigation.

The Design

Sitemap

A site map was created to have a graphic representation of the hierarchy of information for the website. This was done using sticky notes. A digital version was then made.

Wireframes

A wireframe was then created to better illustrate how the pages would look like and how they would connect to each other. This was done using pen and paper.

Branding and Design Elements

After the user flow was established, the look of the website was planned out. I decided to go for the BeatCorona.org domain as it creates a strong message to the users.

High Fidelity Prototype

After the individual design elements were established, a high fidelity prototype was then created using Adobe XD. You can access the prototype here.

User Testing

User testing was done thereafter. Two potential users were asked to test the product: Paola S., a 32 year old nurse, and Daniel F., a 45 year old college professor. Below are the collated responses from the testing sessions:

Strengths

  • The design elements are attractive. The website has its own unique branding that is pleasing aesthetically.
  • The interactive elements and call-to-action buttons are effective. Overall, the layout and design elements suit the target audience.
  • Content wise, the information presented are useful and educational. The hierarchy of information is from the most to the least important. Navigation from one topic to another is simple and easy to follow.

Weaknesses

  • There were some links that are not working and some elements were misplaced.

  • Some pages look bland because there’s not much image to them. It is text heavy at some parts.

  • There were no scroll bars which makes navigation a struggle. The website will have more value if its responsive to different screen sizes.

Conclusion

In order to create a product that aims to educate people, the designer must always think of the users in every step of the process. This is called a user-centric approach to design. It involves, not only creating a pleasing aesthetic lay-out, but carrying out an extensive research through investigative methods to understand the users’ needs. More than being user-centric, the design should also be goal directed. A goal directed design is one that focuses on the user’s behavior, past the product’s technical requirements, to create an experience that is meaningful and useful for the users. Putting both concepts together, a good digital product should be user centric and goal directed. More than its aesthetic value, the users need to grasp its significance and usability, otherwise, the product is not serving its purpose. Theories of interaction suggest that in order to build an interactive product, system, or services, the designer needs to consider the way the user thinks and make decisions, as well as the factors that elicit positive emotions (affective interaction).

​Creating BeatCorona.org is difficult but challenging at the same time. More than the aesthetic value, the information on each page is crucial to its success. It has to be accurate, reliable and up-to-date in order draw more users to use the product and, above all, establish trust. Based on the users’ response, the product can thrive in the market. Improvements can be made on responsiveness (this goal was not achieved due to time constraints), design interaction, and intuitiveness, but overall, the design can compete with other websites of the same industry.

References

Almutairi, K. et. al. Awareness, Attitudes, and Practices Related to Coronavirus Pandemic Among Public in Saudi Arabia. MSc am Community Health, Vol. 38, No. 4, pp. 332–340

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ marshallshepherd/2020/02/28 /the-science-of-why-coronavirus-exposes-racism-and-xenophobia/#29c2dc943695

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/ covid-19-a-greater-menace-to-the-elderly-and-vulnerable-1.4190774