Photo by Jens Kreuter on Unsplash

UXR Case Study — Steiger Dynamics

INTRODUCTION

The computer. The new era. Since the introduction of the personal desktop computer, people’s lives have never been the same. And with the proliferation of high-definition video solutions of late, it was only a matter of time until they were paired together.

Steiger Dynamics Home Page
Product Overview
System Customization Selection
Social Media

STUDY GOALS

As this is a Phase 1 (Discover) research initiative, most of the research methods have been crafted to gain insight about SD’s current user experience and to identify major pain points in addition to providing any relevant insight to lead any UX improvements. There’s no need to try to address every issue and answer every question concerning the website’s usability for this initiative.

  • Remote Unmoderated Usability Survey
  • Competitive Analysis

HEURISTIC EVALUATION

Crafting the Study

The first method helped to evaluate the current design of Steiger Dynamics through a heuristic evaluation (HE).

  • Cost-efficient. All five evaluators agreed to evaluate SD in order to help me build this case study. The cost for participation was a coffee (ordered remotely of course).
  • Controlled review of the experience. All evaluators were given tasks to complete before they provided their evaluation.
Heuristic Evaluation Sheet
Completed Heuristic Evaluation
Raw HE Data
Color focus for clarity

The Findings

The primary concerns surrounded the actual UI design and the site’s ability for help assistance and documentation. The minor concern came down to the user’s control ability when making their way into a “tight spot” from where a “hard return” is required to restore page functionality.

REMOTE USABILITY SURVEY — GOOGLE FORMS

Crafting the Study

The bulk of the information came from the second method: the usability survey created through Google Forms. The survey was completed by 6 participants.

The Study

I’m including a link to the survey here. And below are key questions from the study with their respective results.

The User — Results

Although the survey was unmoderated, I found that the questions posed allowed me to create a viable user persona. From the six participants, the following details were synthesized:

Usability Task #1

For the first usability task, I was looking for a much more generalized response from the participants, focusing on their gut feeling rather than a detailed play-by-play. Their responses surrounded the design and the ease-of-use of the website. Here’s the results summary:

  • Simplistic navigation
  • Redesign is needed

Usability Task #2

A more in-depth task for the participants; each was asked to go ahead and build a HTPC system from the products page. It is unclear whether the system they built was completed as indicated by some participants. Still, partially built systems yielded notable details. Results summary below:

  • Even with a reasonable price, two participants mentioned that they’d rather build their own system regardless of cost.

The Findings

The results were not too far from what was expected actually. The majority of the participants called out for a redesign and felt the overall color scheme along with the layout of SD was certifiably outdated. Only one of the participants actually owned a HTPC, but he built it himself and it was a self-proclaimed HTPC.

Question on Desirability

Jump-starting the opportunity to gain design-oriented data, I decided to include a desirability question for color. Each color palette selection represents the actual color palette of a popular website for building and/or purchasing desktop PCs. Here are the options:

NOTE: All company names were removed for the survey.

Desirability Findings

Surprising results surrounding color preference! As I initially hypothesized, participants chose a lighter color palette with a high level of contrast (complimentary colors). While PCPartPicker garnered the most votes @ 4, palettes CyberPCPower and Newegg came in close second with 1 vote each.

COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS

The final research method used was the competitive analysis of a direct competitor. Given the specificity of the HTPC niche from a commercial perspective, I found only one competitor with similarity on many levels: Assassin PC (APC). APC’s website, especially the landing page, is similar to that of SD.

Assassin PC (APC) vs. Steiger Dynamics (SD)

Tertiary Analysis

The Findings

Against it’s direct competitor, SD holds up in navigation and information architecture as well as pricing. However, its UI and the overall presentation is lacking. Both APC and SD require a more robust help system although Assassin PC has a much more intuitive customization tool.

INSIGHTS

Insight #1

A redesign is highly desirable. This fact has been emphasized by both the heuristic evaluators and the usability participants. Effort should be dedicated to redesigning the information foundation of SD and initiate a complete redesign of the UI.

Insight #2

A better system for managing customization components. 90% of potential buyers of high-end desktop systems will customize a substantial amount of their system.

Insight #3

As an HTPC is a sizable investment, potential buyers visiting the website should be provided with a simple yet robust help system beyond a comprehensive FAQ.

General Insight

Non-UX problems can cause steep drops in experience and expectations of the service and its products. Too many choices without clear differences between each and a high product cost for a large majority of users will bounce potential buyers off the site, particularly due to the fact that most potential buyers have the knowledge and means to build their own system at two-thirds of the total cost.

PHASE 2 (DESIGN) RECOMMENDATIONS

Once a rough redesign has been completed, 2–3 usability tests should be designed and completed to flesh out the design along with any other elements pertaining to the user experience. Steer away from quantitative methods unless absolutely necessary and if information design still poses a problem, consider card sorting coupled with heat maps within the usability test.

PHASE 3 (DELIVER) RECOMMENDATIONS

With the final design delivered and released into the wild, consider running and tracking the usual metrics via a robust platform such as Google Analytics. The qualitative results should provide enough information to assess the quality of the redesign. Once all of the relevant information such audience engagement, traffic sources, site search behavior and page bounce rates has been collected, promptly compare each element with pre-redesign results. The quantitative results should be sufficient to lead the next iteration of the website.

LAST REMARKS

Please let me know your thoughts, where I can improve in my methodology, report and presentation. I’m eager to learn as much as I can on my UXR journey. Thanks for reading this far. You get a cookie from the Bespin of my imagination.

Researcher of user experience. Novelist of the midnight hour.