The James J. Hill Center, or the Hill, is an independent, non-profit organization and library in Saint Paul, Minnesota that offers a variety of programs, services, and events that support business owners, entrepreneurs, and the general public.
Work together on a small team to evaluate the experience of the Hill’s users and design a multifaceted mobile web kiosk prototype aimed at increasing knowledge and awareness of the Hill Center and the services, programs, and events that it provides.
Business owners, entrepreneurs, and members of the general public who visit the Hill in person were the main group of users for this project. Additional users included the staff of the James J. Hill Center.
Secondary Research // Surveys // Interviews // Prototyping // Usability Testing // Presentation
Illustrator // SurveyMonkey // Axure RP // Keynote
Process & Story
The project started with an introductory meeting with two James J. Hill Center staff members, the Hill’s Executive Director and the Director of Library Services and Education. The team learned about the history of the Hill and details about how the organization provides services, programs, and events to current users. Several questions were posed to the staff members related to the discussion during this introductory meeting.
After the initial client meeting, the group began the process of conducting secondary research to explore the current landscape for libraries in general as well as the more specific world of the independent business research library. Additional topics examined included how user experience design fits together with the library world, content strategy for libraries, user friendly library websites, and best practices when designing touchscreens and kiosks.
Survey & Questions
A group of 22 Hill user volunteers consented to participate in surveys, questionnaires, testing, etc. for the project. A survey was created and distributed via SurveyMonkey to this list of volunteers with 19 people responding. The survey focused on gathering information and feedback about each individual’s experience utilizing the services, programs, and resources of the James J. Hill Center. Additional “behind-the-scenes” questions were also sent to Hill Center staff members during this stage of the project.
Photo by Sam McGhee on Unsplash
In order to gain a more in-depth view of the user’s experience at the Hill, the next step in our process was to select a small group of volunteers from the original survey respondents to possibly participate in longer, in-person interviews. From this small group, two individuals with a variety of experiences at the Hill Center agreed to be interviewed. Interviews were videotaped for future review as well as for the development of a short, publicity video piece.
The group next moved on to sketching and prototyping for the design of the tablet-based kiosk web app. The intended audience for the kiosk app was in-person visitors who were new to Hill. Tablets could be placed in the main Reading Room for people to interact with and learn more about the Hill’s services, programs, and events. Using the detailed information gathered during the research, survey, and interview stages, several areas were selected as a focus for the kiosk app. These areas included information about the Hill and its services, programs, and events as well as a suggestion box, a testimonials section, a way to sign up for appointments with the librarian, and a space for the short publicity video the group worked on throughout the project.
Photo by David Travis on Unsplash
In order to gain an understanding of how Hill users might experience the kiosk prototype, the team developed a plan for usability testing. An early version of the prototype was tested with three users. These users were asked several questions as well as given time to explore and explain how they were using the prototype. The results of these usability tests helped the group to further refine the kiosk prototype design to match the needs of a potential Hill visitor.
Additional Findings & Presentation
Throughout the exploration of the user experience at the James J. Hill Center, the group also developed additional content-related recommendations for the Hill’s website as well as their social media presence. These recommendations revolved around updates to navigation, combining shorter web pages to create longer pages with similiar content, and ideas for Facebook content. A final presentation outlined the purpose and goals of the project, showcased the kiosk prototype, and highlighted the user experience recommendations of the group for the future of the James J. Hill Center.