Unifying microscopy platforms

The Challenge

To design an online database where researchers can find and access microscopy equipment and expertise across the institutes in Singapore’s bio-medical research network.

My Roles

In this 3 weeks long client project, my main role involved stakeholder management and research facilitation.

I led a team of 4 and worked closely with the team at A*STAR Microscopy Platform. I was the main communicator between stakeholders and focused on user research, conducting user interviews and usability testing as well as synthesizing the data. Together with another team mate, I co-designed the wireframes and linked up the prototype.

Tools & Methods

User Interviews
Affinity Mapping
User Flows
Site Mapping
Wireframing
Prototyping
Usability Test

The Solution

01 Searchable

Having a search bar caters to our high level persona who already know what they want and just want to get to the product quickly

02 Filterable

Narrowing down the search by filtering through facility location or microscopy techniques that users are interested in

03 Informative

We gathered all the important information in the product page that will help users to make a more informed choice

Methodology

Using the Double Diamond approach, we started off on an empty canvas, talking and listening to stakeholders and users, discovering as much as possible until a pattern emerges. We then synthesised the data collected using affinity maps to identify trends among the users before ideating and developing solutions based on the research insights collected.

3 Weeks Sprint

DAY 0-7 | DISCOVER

Conducted stakeholder interviews to understand what the problem was at the broad level before zooming in to interview users comprising of researchers, students and facility managers to uncover their needs and pain points.

DAY 7-8 | DEFINE

Synthesized the results from user interviews using an affinity map, defined the problem statement and crafted personas and user flows based on user’s needs and goals. Laid out a foundational structure of the website using a site map crafted based on competitive analysis and card sorting.

DAY 8-20 | DEVELOP

Develop, test and iterate! Conducted design studios with primary paper sketches and lo-fi grayscale wireframes. Tested with mid-fi wireframes, iterated the designs and created hi-fi prototypes.

DAY 20-21 | DELIVER

Consolidate research insights, designs and testing results

01 discovery

The scope of this project narrows our users down to the scientific bio-medical research community. We spoke to about 10 users ranging from researchers to PhD students to facility managers to learn about their process of finding the right microscope for their needs. In the process, we found out about their preferences, frustrations, needs and goals.

What are the key decision factors?

After understanding what was important to users, we needed to know what would make them decide on a specific model of microscope.

01 Application
02 Location
03 Assistance
04 Licenses
05 Booking fees

“Using a checklist is not exhaustive enough. Sometimes you still end up choosing an equipment that is not suitable and need to speak to an expert to get their advice.”

– A research fellow with 9 years of experience in biomedical research

02 DEFINE

The insights gathered from our users helped direct and build the foundation content and structure to cater to specific user groups. We created a high-level persona and crafted out several user flows based on the users we spoke to and highlighted the main behaviours, frustrations and goals.

User Persona

User Flow

03 DEVELOP

Develop. Test. Iterate.

With the foundations set, we conducted a design studio to brainstorm ideas, features and solutions for the database. Through competitive analysis and user research, we also created the site map for the website. Combining the team’s ideas together, we sketched out early grayscale wireframes and mapped our a wireflow based on the user flow. We tested out the mid-fidelity flow, iterated the designs based on user feedback.

Site Map

Wire Flow

04 DELIVER

Prototype

After rounds of iterations based on user testing and feedback, we added additional features and content and created a high fidelity prototype.

Final thoughts

The most challenging part of this 3 weeks sprint as a project manager was to understand my team mates different working styles and learning to come to a common agreement in spite of strong individual opinions. Especially in this short span of time, it is even more important to establish some common groundworks right at the beginning on how the team will work. Having a successful team is based not just on skills, but much more on empathy, trust, honesty and inclusivity.

Attributions

Microscopy Images: A*STAR Microscopy Platform

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