We are especially proud of the Spring 2020 students who completed their capstones despite the massive disruption caused by COVID-19. It took flexibility, creativity, and persistence.
Melody Clayton Johnson
I helped a local brick and mortar retail store sustain their superior customer service. I asked the question: “How might we meet the unmet needs of both employees and customers–and in the end, strengthen customer loyalty?” To identify customer needs, I combined multiple qualitative research methods, including participant and non-participant observation, and unstructured and semi-structured interviews. I developed rich field notes using methods of double-entry, jottings/scratch notes, and poetic transcription. I developed authentic personas that reflected key customer segments, and empathy diagrams that related their shopping experience to their life. Based on this I created customer journey maps of diverse personas. Among other insights, my research revealed that the customer journey does not begin at the store: it is important to learn about the individual needs that bring each customer to the door.
My capstone project was completed with the Admissions Office at a university. I researched how we might improve the Student Recruitment Specialist (SRS) position to create better prospective student visits. I conducted semi-structured interviews and observations, gathering qualitative data on students’ experiences before, during, and after their attendance at Boise State. I offered many suggestions to the Admissions Office for them to improve the SRS position. This project opened my eyes to working with qualitative data over quantitative data, as well as how rewarding it is to help a business grow and take advantage of opportunities.
For my capstone project, I set out to observe and interview other employees in my company concerning the progress and changes of our technical department, as well as their thoughts concerning technical SEO overall. I wanted to gather information that would be beneficial for us while transitioning the product into its own department. The data and insight that I was able to obtain from employees were especially helpful for the company because it provided concrete feedback on how the employees feel regarding our current technical product. Using ethnographic interviews and observations, I was able to obtain information that helped me develop specific plans of action for the department. These included the creation of internal technical SEO content and articles, improved technical audit templates, and better communication techniques between the tech employees and management.
My project focused on a local professional sports team that was just launching. I applied user research methods and concepts to understand how customers and potential customers thought and felt about the team, developing empathy diagrams and personas from qualitative interviews. I visited sporting establishments as well as with the team. I was just getting started when the Covid-19 pandemic arrived, and neither the team nor my research could continue. Visits to sports bars became impossible. For a time, I felt defeated, but I realized I had learned a lot before more research became impossible and I was able to develop and present valuable results to my stakeholder.
Check out this video summary and my research poster of my capstone project! I helped my stakeholder gain insight into concrete improvements that can improve user experience on their software platform. My goal was to understand the pain points users experienced at the software interface and recommend usability improvements. Using contextual inquiry methods and semi-structured interviews, I identified many concrete, significant pain points, including limiting editing tools, complicated messaging, and ineffective keyword sorting. I delivered these results to my stakeholder using videos so they could see the problems. Addressing these pain points will improve customer experience. (Tony was mentored on his project by Erica Brick of Google).
My capstone project was conducted at the Campus Writing Center. I asked the question: How can the Writing Center staff better support students during the Covid-19 quarantine? My work came to focus on ways the consultation process could be easier for both the consultants and the writers. In developing my recommendations, I applied a mix of UX research methods and analyzed approximately 60 consultations.
The purpose of my capstone project was to examine how the website of a small retail company could be better adapted to the online buying experience. My research was focused solely on the desktop website version and the experience customers have when browsing their website. The company is proud of their roots, and to be able to create an online shopping customer experience that reflects their small grass-roots vibe would be ideal. They are also passionate about the philanthropic aspect of their company and want that to be at the forefront of their experience. I conducted direct observations of the browsing experience and followed up with contextual interviews. I was able to identify specific improvements, including displays that make comparisons easier, the capacity to select frames that fit the shape of customer faces, the ability to virtually “try on” different glasses, and the benefit of providing more information about their philanthropic activities.
Rachel Wilker For my capstone project I helped a local start-up business increase return customer visits. I identified new customers who had not placed an additional order, and reached out to learn why they had not returned and what changes might improve their experience. Despite rating the company highly, customers had many suggestions on how their experience could be improved, specifically related to packaging and the ordering process.
Andrea Semple My capstone involved a usability study of the website of a local online start-up providing human resources services. This project was a great learning experience, as things did not always go the way I had planned, forcing me to adapt as the project developed. After meeting with the co-founders, I was able to define the questions they wanted answered. I then conducted contextual interviews and observed users interacting with their website. My work showed where the needs and motivations of the customers were not being met, allowing me to make recommendations for improvements. This project has given me incredibly valuable insights on what to expect after graduation when working on UX projects. Update: Andrea completed an additional UX project in Spring 2020 improving an app for a local entrepreneur.
Kristine Goodman For my capstone I worked with a small local business serving the needs trail runners in the Boise area (a community of some 1,500 users). I focused specifically on runner experiences with socks and shoes. In my research I mixed methods, combining go-alongs, in-depth interviews, observations, and a survey. While I learned about pain points in socks (holes in toes, fabric that stretches) and shoes (sizing variation within brands, insoles) because they were experienced runners, they were settled in their brands. My most interesting insights concerned the culture of the trail running community and their relationship to the business hosting my capstone. They shopped at the business because they felt connected due to the involvement of the owners in the trail running community. Culturally, individual members of this tight-knit community repeatedly expressed guilt over not running enough and a shared sense of underperformance.
Tamara Gibson: For my capstone I helped a local business in my community better understand their customers. The business operates a kiosk at a small international airport heavily used by tourists. Most customers make purchases on departing after their vacation. After initially trying a survey, I found ethnographic interviews and observations were much more productive of insights. Based on 18 in-depth customer interviews, I discovered “belief-driven” buyers were prominent. Belief-driven buyers purchase based on ethical principles. The business is locally owned and the product is locally made with local resources by local residents. I constructed a customer journey map with empathy diagrams and personas to tell the story of these customers. New marketing will communicate specifically to belief driven buyers.
Savahna Lee Egbert: For my capstone I helped a non-profit legal aid organization prepare a client survey. The purpose of the client survey was to assess whether client needs were being met. Many volunteers and employees at the organization were apprehensive and felt the complex nature of their relationships with their clients might be difficult for a survey to capture. My design brief was: How might we develop a survey that evaluates our services while capturing the complexities of what we do? Along with direct observations, I utilized in-depth, unstructured and semi-structured interviews to capture the kinds of work being accomplished. I iterated a series of prototype surveys, gathering feedback from everyone involved on the questions being asked. The result was a survey that everyone felt positive about.