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NYC Parks

-Website redesign-

OVERVIEW

The task was to redesign the existing website for nycparks.gov by conducting research and focusing on a target audience. The target audience chosen here is 'people with kids'- this refers to anybody who has to 

Duration

4 months

Role

User Research, Concept generation, Prototyping, 

Wireframing, User Journey.

Type

Academic

DESIGN PROCESS

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PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION

NYC has over 1,700 parks. Having options of this variety makes it harder for users to find which parks to visit. Looking at the NYC parks website, we decided to redesign the website.

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Double Navigation

Relevance of

promoted content

Categorizing

content

From the first interaction with the website, there were a few problem areas that were found. This included the double navigation bar, the categorizing of the navigational items and the relevance of certain items. 

With this initial understanding of how the website works and its offerings, we began our next stage, which was the research.

USER RESEARCH

The methods we used for our research were Interviewing, Observations, and conducting a Survey. We selected 2 parks in 2 boroughs of New York. For the initial interviews, we asked a generic set of questions to understand the types of visitors better. In our subsequent interviews, we asked questions tailored to our user group and made observations related to this group. Collectively as a group, we conducted 18 interviews. We also conducted an online survey and had 24 responses to the survey. Our research and insights are a collective inference from these 3 methods.

Target audience: People with kids (Parents, Guardians, Nannies, Baby sitters, etc.)

With the help of our research, we created user personas, user journeys, and story boards. These tasks allowed us to build on who the user is as well as the requirements they have with the website. 

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Fig 1. User Journey

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Fig 2. Storyboard

KEY INSIGHTS

1. People are looking for a low-effort and highly intuitive platform.

People usually search Google for parks. Social media groups and websites such as mommypoppins and Timeout are also used. Despite parks having their own websites very few use them as it lacks information, aren’t intuitive, and moreover have data scattered across multiple sites.

2. Child's age is a big factor influencing a park visit

Parents or nannies visiting with kids take into consideration the play area, nature of swings, and installations in the play area before getting their children. If a  play area is better suited for older children they just leave. 

3. Parks can be a social place for kids 

People conduct activities for their kids, for example, birthday parties, group classes, school events, etc. Adults accompanying these children socialize amongst themselves as well resulting in small communities being formed. A lot of playdates also happen as a result.

4. Safety

Safety for the children remains a motivational factor for visiting parks for both parents and nannies of children. Safety concerns stem from both the nature of the play area e.g: if there is any installation that could injure the children, and also the kind of visiting population. Parents and nannies like to be sure that no unwanted elements loiter around the park.

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Fig 2. Affinity Mapping

PROCESS

We used the categories and standardization grid data to define our main navigation and similarity matrix to see which labels could be combined and which would have to be separate. Then we used the Success metrics of each tree testing task to verify our sitemap and make necessary changes. For labeling, we chose simple short text and tested out a few with the tree testing. While deciding on a placement, we identified a few categories that needed to be moved or merged post-analysis of the tree test.


Hybrid card sort - Our card sort exercise had 143 participants with a 33% completion rate. Participants sorted 43 cards into 5 pre-defined categories, they could add categories if they found something missing. This allowed us to get deeper insights into how users expected a park website to function. 

 

Using Optimal, we performed tree testing and card sorting. Here are some of the insights we gained from the exercises.

Competitor Analysis - A competitor analysis helped us identify the pros and cons of each website. It helped us decide which labels and categories to incorporate into ours or avoid entirely depending on the effectiveness of their design. We looked at the following parks nps ,brooklynbridge , findyourpark and nparks. 


Tree testing - Post our learnings from the card sort and competitor analysis we built a sitemap following which we performed a tree testing exercise. This helped us validate whether our sitemap needed improvement or was navigation-friendly as is for our users. 


We had participants from the United States, China, India, France, and the middle-east. Our response rate, demographic spread, and user-focused approach helped us analyze data and build an insightful sitemap.

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Similarity in categorization leading to condensed main nav

Similar categorization of information into different buckets. Eg: we had cards like ‘Dog runs’ being put equally under ‘Facilities’ and ‘Parks’. We observed a similar pattern in  ‘Help’ and ‘About’ and used it to combine these two categories.

Re-categorizing a few labels basis the tree test

While analyzing our tree test, we found that some of our questions were misinterpreted due to wording e.g- “Where would you find information?” made users feel that they needed to look for a physical location mentioned on the site. ’ We tested participants on use cases like finding parent communities and reporting a problem. This helped us change our ‘Community’ categorization from ‘Parks’ to ‘Events’ and rename ‘Report a problem’ from ‘SOS’ and categorize it under ‘Contact Us’.

Labeling and content insights through competitor analysis

We took inspiration from competitors for condensed navigation and for labels like family-friendly which we implemented. 

Expectation of a filter or map communicated through participant labels

Participants created labels like 'Get Involved' for volunteering and 'nearby' for anything that they thought should have a map. This helped us see the contexts that participants came with from their previous browsing experiences. This led to better labels and the addition of a filter and map for a better experience.

SITE MAPPING- Refining

In this process we listed down the content that we would like to have, keeping the existing nycparks.gov website as a reference. After grouping the content we felt is relevant or related, we created a site map. This process allowed us to analyze the data that is offered and gave us the chance to omit or add new content that we felt was relevant according to the research and findings. 

We used the insights gathered from the Card Sorting, Competitor Analysis and Tree testing to give the framework for how the sitemap should look.

From the tasks that were given to the participants, we noticed that 35% of them were successful in reaching the "correct" answer.* This result could be because of the interpretation of the tasks given as they were ambiguous. After carefully going through the results, we noticed the irregularities between our proposed paths vs. the ones the users were commonly taking. 

* There can be more than one way to reach a destination, only one can be recorded as 'correct' in the software. 

 

Changes made: 

- Move "Community" from "Parks" to "Events

- Rename "SOS" to "Report a problem" which was now placed in "Contact Us" 

- Place "Volunteer" under "Jobs & Opportunities" as well as "Community" as the results showed both paths were expected. 

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WIRE FRAMING

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Taking our insights from the research and testing that we did, we designed wireframes that would help complete 3 task flows. These wireframe flows were then tested by a group of users to validate whether the flows worked as intended

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Easy to use search bar

Condensed navigation bar

Easy to find categories

Filteration system to allow users to find what they are looking for

Mobile view

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Park-filter.png
Event Page-1.png
Kid Friendly.png

High Fidelity Mockups

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Task 1: Find an event for you to go with your child. 

Step 1: Arrive at the home page.
Step 2: Hover on Events from the Navigation bar then choose “Kid Friendly”.
Step 3: Set more filters.
Step 4: From the new search results, select an event (Holiday Lighting) that interests you.
Step 5: If the event requires an RSVP, fill in your details.

 

Task 2: Find a park to take your dog for a walk

Step 1: Arrive at the home page.

Step 2: Go to Parks from the Navigation bar.
Step 3: Set filters to show dog parks in the area.
Step 4: From the new search results, select the park (Bryant park) to visit.

Explore the prototype yourself!

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