Where digital designers keep their workflow and leave technical hurdles to professionals.
Project Overview
3DEX is a website based application that offers to connect 3D designers in need with design software experts.
My Contributions
As part of my UX Immersion course at CareerFoundry I developed and executed the whole process from initial user interviews to a final working high-fidelity prototype.
UX/UI Designer
Jun 2020 - Oct 2020
With a background in product design, I felt challenged to tackle my struggles and pinpoint the aspects that halt you in your workflow. Generally, designers are known for being curious problem solvers. A big part of their work often relies on various digital tools to visualize ideas. To ensure a smooth workflow, tools should only support and never impede. The user should not have to work a tool to perfection to deliver good results in time. Among many platforms and forums on the web offering general expert help, I focussed solely on designers working in 3D.

Eliminate endless web search
Connect you with the right expert as quickly as possible. 

Eventually our user can value the time spent searching versus the time saved employing an expert to solve their problem.
solo by Darin S from the Noun Project
Project Type

UX Certificate, UX/UI Designer

tools by Ben Davis from the Noun Project

Balsamiq, Adobe XD, Affinity Suite, Google Forms, OptimalSort, UsabilityHub, iMovie

time out by Kieu Thi Kim Cuong from the Noun Project

June 2020 - October 2020

Using design thinking as a tool to guide my process, from defining a problem statement to finding user oriented solutions.
solo by Darin S from the Noun Project

Competitor Research, Analysis, User Interviews

tools by Ben Davis from the Noun Project

User Personas, Mental Models, User Flows

time out by Kieu Thi Kim Cuong from the Noun Project

Navigational Sitemaps, Analog and Digital Card Sorting

time out by Kieu Thi Kim Cuong from the Noun Project

Low-fi→High-fi Prototypes, Design System Development

time out by Kieu Thi Kim Cuong from the Noun Project

Issue Iterations, Think-Aloud-Method usability testing, expert reviews

time out by Kieu Thi Kim Cuong from the Noun Project

Iteration loops until the final prototype

Competitor Analysis
After having set my theme for the app I did a competitors analysis to find out which applications  are already leading the market. I gained good insights on functionality and communication. Insights and findings were evaluated in SWOT profiles. Competing platforms in focus were codementor.io and upwork.com.
The services could be a lot less cluttered and have clearer distinction. Users want to connect fast. They want to feel welcomed, save and have no doubt they matched the right expert. Upwork was criticized for having too many people accessing the platform that don't meet the users expectations. This could be an indicator for a niche market.
→ Find the complete competitors analysis right here
User Interviews
An initial user interview brought thorough input from six participating designers. This gave basic structure to the architecture. I understood the gains and needs of my potential users. In addition I received validation, good insights but also negation from the user surveys. → Find the online survey results right here.
The Interviewees asked for Face to Face communication, good filters and easy access. The want to be in control when using such service. An excellent search engine as the basis is key. Live Chat, Video Chat, and Tutorial options for the communication on the problem-solving side.
User Personas
I used the research results from above to design my first two personas. They enabled me to think into opposite directions about the same subject and expand the scope of my potential users. From this point I could build new decisions onto their profile. Doing so I could stay user oriented and create my first journey map.
It helped a lot to create two personas that developed in two opposite, mental directions. This brought more thought to the diversity of their gains and needs. Eventually it can broaden your view on what might be expected from the service but they are also a great help to keep yourself focussed on the most necessary.
-> Find all flows and journeys to both personas here.
User research created enough input to lay out first versions of a sitemap. I also received real insights from my peers via slack, Facebook and reddit. The quantity of card sorting results via Optimalworkshop was rather scarce and gave vague results. So in between I went back to drawing on postits. → Find all my iterations here.
The iterations brought evidence to the necessity of a good architecture. I am still playing scenarios with my personas that might take away or add pages and categories. This sitemap sketch is a good framework for everything yet to come.
The first low-fi version was paper engineered but already made clickable. It was tested among friends and befriended designers. The flow was understood well and I could jump quickly to a mid-fi version in Balsamiq. I introduced my main features which appeared more applicable now. I repeated the iterations with another round of tests until they reached a level proficient enough to use for my first real usability testing. But more to that later.
In hindsight I would not switch too many tools for building your prototype. Although I was learning a lot I could have stayed in Balsamiq until the ultimate phase in the process. Or, start right off in AdobeXD with very basic shapes and turn them into high-fidelity later on. Don't be tempted to want to make things look beautiful too early in the process.
Usability Testing
I conducted and recorded a usability test with six designers. My observations of the peers you find below each profile. The test results are listed in an affinity map and cleared into a rainbow-sheet. If you like to have a closer look at the details, feel free to check out this link.
Usability Testing is a job on its own. There are a lot of considerations to make and preparations to take in order to have a flawless test and gain good results. Contact your peers early enough, make sure they know what you expect from them. Make them feel comfortable being questioned. And last but not least, make sure to charge your recording devices! :D
Issue report
The issue report shows the results of my usability test or let's say: Everything that went wrong and needed revision.
Issue No. 5 was most severe. The landing page called for a complete redesign, which was okay to do at this point of testing. The usability test brought the most usefull insights from all tests I conducted throughout this case study.
Design language System
Although I was still in the middle of my iterations, revising the prototype, I set the frame work for my style guide and the design language system. In the following you can get a good impression of the status quo at that point.
A design language system for the UI is very helpful and should be fed and iterated throughout the process. Since I had mostly focussed on the UX part up to this point I then quickly brought all the elements for the UI together. Colors and imagery were still being adapted.
-> Find the complete design language system here


Results and impact
I was happy I could reach out to real designers in the field. All of them stated that a niche expert service for designers does make sense and they frequently all would like to reach out for help.
Main challenge and lessons learnt
Since I was on a tight deadline within the curriculum I had to plan and schedule very well. Especially in the case of the usability testing where I used video recording. Preparation, documentation, execution, and eventually assessing the data are key-skills that ask for close attention.
Next steps
First of all, I am looking forward to removing all possible frictions in the prototype. Later I will reach out to marketing experts and developers to receive their opinion on market placement and feasibility.

Have a quick look at the mobile version?

In the video I contextualize and display the five most significant functions.

Try it out yourself?

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