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UX in the 6ix: Reimagining online learning for Ontario entrepreneurs

By Danielle Klein

Therese, Aditi, and I have a lot in common: we’re iSchool students with a passion for UX research, strategy and design; we share a Capstone project and a blog; and we believe firmly in the power of Drake gifs to clarify almost any point.

In our final year at the iSchool, we’re working with the Entrepreneurship Education Team at the MaRS Discovery District on our Capstone project, reimagining the Entrepreneur’s Toolkit. The Toolkit is a product containing resources to help entrepreneurs in Ontario health and technology sectors learn to launch, grow, and scale their start-ups.

The user research phase

In September, we kicked off an exploratory research phase to get to know our users and build a set of data-driven insights to bring into our design work.

We conducted interviews to understand entrepreneurs’ mental models while searching for information online and observed people looking for resources on their computers and phones to see how they discover and evaluate information in practice. We also conducted usability testing on the live Toolkit to better understand the issues and highlights of the product as is.

As a team, we’re taking our Capstone as an opportunity to try out new methods and put our own twists on tried and true ones to see what works well. In our research phase, we tested out IDEO’s analogous inspiration method, immersing ourselves in settings and scenarios similar to those experienced by entrepreneurs to put ourselves in their mindsets and build empathy and understanding. We went to the Toronto Reference Library and looked for resources with a library and to the Toronto Small Business Forum to network with other entrepreneurs.

From research to insight

We wound up with a big pile of data to sort through, which we did through a daylong research sprint. We put on a 90s R&B playlist (naturally) and went through all our notes, pictures, and transcriptions, capturing key quotes and ideas on post-it notes and building an affinity diagram to see common themes. (Read a detailed breakdown of our research sprint agenda here.)

We translated our research into tools for sharing insights with our MaRS stakeholders such as personas, user stories and scenarios.

Strategy and design

Throughout January, we’ve been developing a design concept for the redesigned Toolkit. We ran a design sprint at MaRS to engage our colleagues there and our users in co-design, getting them to sketch their ideas for the Toolkit to bring into our prototypes. (Read more about our design sprint on Medium.)

We’re using Agile methodology in the design phase of our project, generating low-fidelity prototypes and getting them in front of our users and stakeholders quickly for feedback and iteration.

We’re finalizing our design concept and moving into medium-high fidelity prototyping and detailed interaction design in the next few weeks with MaRS, ahead of wrapping up our project in April.

Along the way, we’ll be blogging about our experiences on our project blog, UX in the 6ix, and we’d love for you to take a look and share your comments and ideas.

Follow Danielle, Aditi and Therese on their Medium blog.

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