As part of a class called Needs Assessment and Usability Evaluation, I had the opportunity to work on a semester-long client-based project. My team had the opportunity to advise Centro Community Partners about the user experience of their mobile application Centro a Business Planning Application. Centro Community partners is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help underserved low-income entrepreneurs build and establish successful businesses.
Centro's mobile application is currently facing problems around the conversion rate at which their users complete all the steps to result in a business plan. Only 39% of users who begin activities with Centro's application are completing all 6 steps.
Our team conducted 6 interviews in order to further understand the needs of potential users of Centro. We interviewed four female entrepreneurs, and one male to understand the process they took, and their experiences in creating their business plans. We also interviewed an employee at Centro who closely works with the users in workshops to get his perspective on the users of the application. We utilized affinity mapping to structure the qualitative data we collected from our interview and extract key findings.We developed personas based on the data collected in our interviews. After studying the background and motivations of our interviewees we developed 2 personas, Dolores and Anna.
The primary resource interviewees used to build out their business plans was referencing sample business plan templates found online, through credible organizations such as the Small Business Association.
For the application to show an example of what the end product will look like to the users so they have an idea of what they will be creating. This way they understand what the output will look like, and visualize their goal as they go through the different steps in the Centro application. With the current design of the application, users do not know what the business plan output produced by the application looks like before they start the process.
Entrepreneurs valued one on one, face to face time with another person talking about their experiences and imparting advice on how to properly create a business plan to succeed.
To incorporate a social dimension to the application so users interact with actual people when they go through this process. Centro has MBA volunteers that help to produce the actual business plan for each user based on what they input into the app. However, the application does not mention this personal component. Centro should consider introducing the user to their MBA advisor through the app, to may the experience more personable.
The biggest challenge found in creating the business plan was understanding the financial jargon and comprehending it enough to build out a financial forecast.
Centro’s users are entrepreneurs who are juggling multiple things at once, and might not be able to make every workshop or have time to go out and meet the people they need to. In order to address this issue, the video chat capability can be extended to solely focus on financial literacy for their users. Allowing the user to schedule sessions with MBA volunteers would create flexibility, so the user can work according to their schedule while still successfully completing their business plan.
As a guideline, we used Jacob Neilson’s Heuristics and each member of our team individually analyzed Centro against Neilson’s guidelines to see if they violated any usability Heuristics. As a team we discussed and decided what kind of questions we wanted to investigate within each of the 9 above-listed categories. Then we completed an individual evaluation looking at the questions we developed as a team. We gave each question a score ranging from 0 to 4, in which 0 advised of no usability problem while 4 advised of a severe usability problem. This stage of our research helped to determined areas of the app to test during usability testing.
Finally, it was time to conduct usability testing in order to observe user’s behaviors while interacting with Centro and acquire information about user’s attitudes towards the application as well as collect qualified data about their experience. We recruited 5 users without a formal business background who were in the preliminary stages of creating their business.
Users had to complete math in their head without any help from the app.
Promote recognition by making information and interface functions visible and easily accessible to help users more easily complete tasks.When selecting eight personal values, all of the participants encountered difficulties and frustrations counting how many values they selected. Thus, we recommend showing the number of how many are left to be chosen on the screen, so users can easily focus on choosing the values, instead of wondering the number.
Users were unsure of certain terminology the application used
Provide detailed instructions of each activity to alleviate user confusion.We recommend providing thorough instructions for users who are uncertain what and why they should do and answer in each step. For example, regarding the education terms we suggest adding a page and link where users can find explanations and information they need because some users are not familiar with the terms, especially for immigrants and non-native English speakers.
Users were uncertain where to click at times since the button style differed from screen to screen.
Maintain consistent button use throughout the app.The lack of standardization of button use and placement in the current design was confusing to multiple users. For example, on the page where users choosing the final vision statement, the current buttons are not prominent enough.We suggest redesigning the button to be salient and consistent with buttons on other pages or extend the clickable area to the entire text fields.