My Role

User Researcher

UX/UI Designer

Timeline

February - April 2019 (10 weeks)

Tasks

  • Generative Research

  • User Research

  • Research Analysis and Design Translation

  • Usability Testing

  • Sketching

  • Wire-framing

  • UI Design

Tools

  • Sketch

  • Miro

  • SnagIt

  • Optional Workshop

  • whiteboard, stickies, pen and paper

Problem Statement

While working for the University of Denver as a Program Coordinator, I got an up close view of how frustrating budget recording and expense submission is on existing platforms. Working in a remote village in northern India, where most transactions are cash and almost never includes a receipt, illuminated a a unique problem for higher education professionals frequently working in similar environments - lack of receipts made submitting expenses difficult

Receipt for group meal in Dharamsala, India.

Challenge

Reporting expenses for work often requires including an expense receipt from the vendor. In rural environments in medium to low development countries, receipts are often not included in the transaction and may not be available upon request.

 

Goal

Create an easy platform for higher education professionals (HEPs) to submit expense reports while working overseas in primarily cash economies.

 

Hypothesis

We believe that by creating a tool to generate digital receipts for expenses incurred in cash economies, HEPs would more accurately report their working expenses, especially when working overseas in cash economies.

Comparative Study

Assessing the field illuminated where the gaps in current services were. 

I reviewed the 3 leading travel oriented expense reporting apps - Concur, TripCoin, and Trabee Wallet.

 

Insights

  • None of the existing apps accounted for grants, only a self determined budget. 

  • Concur, built for business expense reporting use, did have a higher education version but it did not connect with a grant management feature. 

  • Low grade of form design across each reviewed app.

User Interviews 
“I would hesitate to spend money on work related things because I couldn’t check how much money was left in the grants.”

Creating a discussion guide kept my questioning focused on my research goals and ensured my questions were open-ended for optimum results. 

I interviewed three professors currently working at the University of Denver, each of whom travel internationally for work at least once a year. 

 

Insights

  • HEPs main priorities were about submitting expenses quickly and efficiently.

  • They do not report all costs due to how time consuming creating expense submissions is.

  • The majority of their professional funding comes from grants, but they never know how much money was left which cause anxiety.

  • Crying out for a way to manage shared and individual grants. 

User Personas

I designed with Kelsey in mind.

Using what I learned about my users doing interviews and what I observed about their behaviors and inclinations, I designed the persona below.

 

I reference this person mostly during the user flow and UI stages. Submitting expense reports is never fun. Using Dr. Fratsen as a guiding light, I focused on making the process streamlined and eliminating redundancies while visually appealing. 

Feature Mapping

Feature mapping helped me prioritize key features and eliminate others that were not essential. 

During interviews, users expressed frustrations with nearly every feature and process in current application. Using a feature kept me focused on a realistic scope and designing for the primary needs expressed - easy expense submissions and transparent grant management.  

 

Insights

  • To get the full "ask list" designed, there would need to be multiple iterations. 

  • Receipt generation was fall lower and lower on the priority list. 

Tools

Miro

Card Sort

Card Sorting gave me a snapshot into how my users mapped the process of submitting expenses and organized relevant information.

I created an online card sort using Optimal Workshop. Five users completed the open card sort creating groups with 30 cards on the information and task flows found on Noomus.

 

I used this information to gain insight into how users currently thought and where areas of opportunity lied in consolidating information/features. 

 

Insights

  • Four broad categories showed up, sometimes called different things - Reports/Reporting, Grants, Expenses/Reporting, and Pre-departure.

  • The card sort did not account for process flow. A better approach would have been doing a stickie note session with users doing a combination of a task flow and card sort.  

Tool

Optimal Workshop

User Flow

Card Sorting gave me a snapshot into how my users mapped the process of submitting expenses and organized relevant information.

I created an online card sort using Optimal Workshop. Five users completed the open card sort creating groups with 30 cards on the information and task flows found on Noomus.

 

I used this information to gain insight into how users currently thought and where areas of opportunity lied in consolidating information/features. 

 

Insights

  • Four broad categories showed up, sometimes called different things - Reports/Reporting, Grants, Expenses/Reporting, and Pre-departure.

  • The card sort did not account for process flow. A better approach would have been doing a stickie note session with users doing a combination of a task flow and card sort.  

Tool

Optimal Workshop

Wireframes

I sketched out some early ideas the were constantly iterated on.

Quickly visualizing ideas kept my mind moving on how to best approach the design given everything I had learned about the problem. 

Based on user interviews, I knew that the trip approval process and reimbursement process where particular pain points. 

Redundancy was a huge point of frustration. Users had to repeatedly put in the same information for each expense on a trip. The Trip Approval number saves the trip info and auto-populates it where assumed correct with the option to edit. 

Early sketches where heavily influenced by the competitor interfaces and came across clunky. Getting these ideas out and iterating on them helped me create an original design. 

Low-Fi Screens
Usability Test

I created a test plan where two users matching the persona profile were asked to complete 3 tasks.

Task 1 - Upload an expense to an existing trip.

Task 2 - Submit an expense report.

Task 3 - Find out how much money you have spent out of the Jackson Peace Fund.

 

I tested the medium- fidelity prototype with with two users who had been interview during the early research phase. In hindsight, I would have tested the prototype with users who had no or very little familiarity with the project. Their experience with being interviewed for the project unknowingly encouraged excitement for particular problems to be solved that were only somewhat related to the problem statement. 

Key Insights and Design Impact

- Home page was confusing navigation ​to complete tasks and was generally redundant, adding extra steps to the process. Home page was deleted and information diffused across other 3 platforms. 

 

-Users ask who else could see grant information. Indicated that it was not easy to see who spent what. 

Hi Fidelity Prototype
Lessons Learned

Listen to your users, but maintain a vision and opinion. 

During user interviews, I allowed the larger frustrations that users expressed about the expense reporting system as a whole, that I lost sight on the problem that I originally meant to solve for - a digital receipt generator. During user interviews I was distracted by other problems that stuck me as more pressing. While this information was valuable, I could have done a better job of guiding the research interviews.  On the other hand, it is good that I was lead down this rabbit hole of making forms and multi-feature digital systems for the sale of learn. 

Personas need to include more information about how this person approaches the core task or a set of tasks. By coupling a task flow to a user, we can be better guided in creating them with information relevant to that task. 

© 2019 by Christina Ibanez