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The Final Furlong, Horse Racing Website Design

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Project Overview

Challenge

As part of my Information Architecture module, I was tasked with designing an information rich domain for horse racing in the UK for long term and aspiring horse racing enthusiasts. Current horse racing websites tend to focus on betting culture and offer users limited availability to learn and discover new information about the sport.

Objectives

  • Understand the sort of information long term horse racing enthusiasts and what information aspiring horse racing enthusiasts look for when trying to look for or learn something new about the sport

  • Design the foundation for an information rich domain for horse racing 

  • Design and develop website wireframes and visual concepts for the domain

Project Scope

Information Architecture

User Experience

User Research

Tools

Adobe Photoshop, XD, Optimal Sort

Role

UX Designer (Research, Visual Design, Interaction Design, User testing)

Team

Independent project

Duration

1 term (10 Weeks) 

Design Process

The Design Thinking process was applied to define the information architecture of my chosen domain as it is extremely useful in tackling complex problems that are unknown and helps by understanding the users involved.

 

By understanding the different user, horse racing enthusiasts and novices looking to learn more about the sport it helps to define the different groups and categories users are looking for and helps to define how the domain is explored and information found. Design thinking provided the right framework to begin with by gaining an empathic understanding of the problem I was trying to solve and how the domain can respond to it.

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Design Research

User research began by researching similar horse-racing websites and competitors, interviewing expert horse racing enthusiasts, as well as novice enthusiasts who would like to know more about racing.

 

By researching and comparing what the different competition offered this allowed me to discover the complexity of the topic and information currently offered to users. Additionally, interviewing the different domain experts played a fundamental part of understanding the domain and by using a user centred approach to tackle the problem this helped to guide and shape the development on what the different users’ needs and their level of understanding.

Using my primary research, I constructed a domain model to visualise the key points of horse racing and how the different areas linked with each other. The domain model would provide a foundation for the further information architecture development and a something that could be referenced back to through development.

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Card Sort

To help develop my sitemap, I performed an open card sort via the online OptimalWorkshop, helping me to understand how people think about content and categories and after further evaluation and by continuing a user-centred approach, I performed a think aloud reverse card sort with participants, to quickly and dirtily refine my categories.

Performing a card sort provide some key benefits, but also some draw backs.

Advantages

  • Easy & Cheap — Card sorting is simple and cheap to set up for all the people involved

  • Time efficient — Several sorts can be executed quickly creating a significant amount of valuable data

  • User centred— Studies provide insight into users’ thinking and motivations for website architecture

  • Builds a foundations —Card sorting provides a robust foundation to the structure of a site

Disadvantages

  • Little context— Without context, the ability of the labels to represent meaning is limited.

  • Varied results — Results between participants or may vary widely

  • Time-consuming analysis — The data analysis can be complicated and time-consuming, especially with inconsistent results

  • Doesn't go deep enough — Without placing the  data in context it can give a very top level analysis without getting deep into the problem 

Sitemap

The design of the domain naturally developed into a Polyhierarachy layout, where an item can be in more than one place. This is demonstrated within my sitemap with an example of information such as ‘What makes a good horse’ can found in the ‘Horse’ and ‘Racing explained’ sections. This also led to a hybrid Ambiguous Topic based organisation for my global navigation elements, which is further supported by a combination of Exact and Ambiguous organisation schemes, for example the ‘Course guide’ is supported by a combined Alphabetic navigation and a Geographic search navigation.​​​​​​​

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User Journey

 A user journey was utilised to demonstrate future user behaviour of the domain using the site map as a map. The aim of the user journey is to demonstrate a clear view of how easy or difficult it is for a user to reach their goal. In this case the goal was  ‘find a local major horserace event in July’.

The user journey demonstrates the hybrid organisation and navigation scheme utilised within the site map and demonstrates the three key ways for users to reach their final goal.

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Wireframes

The next step in my information architecture process was to create a series of prototype wireframes of the horse racing domain. The wireframes would then be used to test with four users, two domain beginners and 2 experts.

 

The initial set of wireframes served as a foundation for user testing and the following wireframes demonstrate four of the key pages from testing and annotations to describe key features.

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User Testing

Testing was conducted using the think out loud usability test, where by users were asked to perform a task and describe their thought process when going through the interactive prototype. To be consistent all participants were asked to perform the same tasks.

 

I asked the four participants how they would find “The next big race meeting that is occurring near them at the start of July”. I wanted to find out  how easy it was to find a local big race meeting through my current design and to test if the organisation, grouping and labelling of the website supported the user to carry out their task.

User testing outcomes

  • Easy & Cheap — Card sorting is simple and cheap to set up for all the people involved

  • Time efficient — Several sorts can be executed quickly creating a significant amount of valuable data

  • User centred— Studies provide insight into users’ thinking and motivations for website architecture

  • Builds a foundations —Card sorting provides a robust foundation to the structure of a site

Final Design

Developing on the user feedback from the user testing sessions, the site structure was refined with initial pages groups for horse, jockeys and trainers grouped into one principal main heading of 'Racing Stats'. By refining the site structure this help to simplify the initial over complicated wireframes and structure to produce a domain that was easy and more efficient to use and find information.

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