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The 1776 Challenge Cup is an annual “global competition to identify and celebrate the most promising startups tackling the biggest challenges.” The competition organizers were getting lots of user feedback about their site being confusing. Users were unable to find the information relevant to them when using the site.


My team and I were asked to consult for the 1776 Challenge Cup website on how they could better communicate with their users. We presented 1776 with recommendations including a clearer distinction between "Attendees" and "Competitors," and restructured information to make forms for competitors easier to find.


Site audit - As we were working with an existing site, we closely examined it and created a detailed audit of everything on the Challenge Cup site. This gave us a better understanding of what existed on the site at the time, and how it was organized. 


User research - We had limited resources available to us, and the Challenge Cup site was not live at the time of our project, so user testing the site was difficult. For our user research we had to rely on speaking to 1776 employees who had answered emails from confused users the previous year. We did, however get to put our wireframes in front of users to get feedback on our solutions.

Comparative analysis - We looked at how festivals such as SXSW handle their many moving parts, how competitions presented important information to competitors, and how sites with two or more distinct user types (for instance Attendees and Competitors) went about specifically catering to each specific user type.


Affinity mapping - We made sticky notes for all of the important points of information currently found on the site. Using information we gathered from our research, we grouped the information in ways that made sense. This was the beginning of our information architecture.


Personas - I created three distinct personas based on our research. We referred back to these personas at every single stage of our process to make sure that all of our users needs were being met.

User flows - We came up with typical tasks that each of our personas would perform on the site: Stella was interested in attending an event, but more focused on finding information on the type of the startups attending, Chase was interested in the legitimacy of the competition, and Joshua wanted to know if his startup was eligible to compete. We could then create flows for each. These flows were revisited and iterated many times as we moved into the sketching phase.


Sketching - I made preliminary sketches throughout the entire project, but at this point I began to put all of our ideas together into one cohesive solution. My team and I used a few different methods when sketching, including design studio and group sketching.  After sketching, we created wireframes and created a clickable prototype.

Prototype - We created our wireframes in Axure, which allowed us to make a clickable prototype.

User testing - Once we had a clickable prototype we could then put the site in front of real live users. We asked them to do specific tasks and explain why they made certain decisions. We then went back, iterated, and tried it again.

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