CLIENT & PROJECT GOALS:
Bell Environmental is a commercial and residential pest control service located in New Jersey. As a New Jersey, I enjoy taking on projects that benefit people in my hometown area.
The goal of this project was to improve the Information Architecture and navigation of the desktop website in order to improve the business’ residential services performance during COVID-19.
The company website states, “Bell leads the way in finding alternatives to dangerous pesticides to eliminate infestations of insects, rodents, and pest birds at facilities throughout the northeastern United States.
We are proud to serve commercial clients, hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants, shopping centers, supermarkets, and libraries throughout the New York Metro area.” - Bell Environmental website
To better understand the brand, my group conducted market research to determine how Bell Environmental differentiated itself amongst its local and national competitors through its current branding and products and services. Through the brand comparison and competitive feature analysis, we found opportunities for differentiation in providing and further emphasizing the following:
Branding with a mascot
Providing environmentally friendly services
Through a SWOT analysis we determined areas in which the company can improve or emphasize. Bell Environmental has one product, Catch-It Glue Traps. The brand is known for its Mascot, Roscoe the Dog, who aids in Bed Bug detection services. In addition, the brand provides unique, environmentally safe solutions for pest control including its InstantFreeze technology. However, these competitive advantages, are not easily conveyed via the Bell Environmental website due to its lack of usability and poor information architecture and content hierarchy. In addition, Bell Environmental must face external threats including people’s concern with allowing people in their homes during COVID-19 and competition with DIY pest-control products.
After better understanding the pest control service industry and determining the ideal goals and mission of Bell Environmental, my group conducted user research, which I guided through data-driven insight. First, we conducted user interviews with individuals who have had experience with pest-control services. We found, for pest control-related residential services, consumers were divided into two groups. The first group consisted of homeowners who contacted pest control services themselves. The second group consisted of individuals who live in apartments or similar buildings where landlords and similar residential building decision-makers arrange for routine and/or needed pest control services through contracts with commercial pest control services. Because we were able to get access to homeowners, and homeowners were more likely to visit the Bell Environmental website, we placed our solutions on the feedback and insight from this group of users.
Some common themes found in the interviews included the following:
Users tested store-bought and/or DIY pest-control products first before contacting pest-control services.
Users often used smaller local companies.
Users valued reviews for products and services.
Users, regardless of living space, had routine services provided or multiple services provided.
Users, regardless of living space, had little interaction with the pest control technicians because the technicians knew the most common areas to search.
Users learned about pest control companies through face-to face interaction and word of mouth.
Due to time and resource limitations, we narrowed our solutions around the most common themes including alternatives to store-bought and DIY pest control methods and the use of reviews and feedback from individuals in one’s social circle to determine the choice of pest-control services.
To better empathize with the user, I had the responsibility of creating the user persona and editing the initial user journey map based off the data provided from the user interviews.
Belle is thirty-six years old with two children. Because she works from home and takes care of her children, she strongly values her living space and work space to be clean and provide peace of mind. For this reason, Belle despises seeing pests in her home.
She is a resource person who values the opinions of others when making purchasing decisions. These opinions include online reviews and commentary from people within her social circle. Pest-control is no different.
At first, she attempts store-bought products like Raid and glue traps. However, once those products fail to make a long-term impact in her pest problem, she relies on local sources and online sources to direct her to the most cost-effective and trustful pest-control company.
User Journey Map
Through the journey map, my group and I established the goals and frustrations of potential consumers of Bell Environmental. In addition, the journey map revealed the following spaces for opportunities for improvement:
The website should aid users in determining the best store-bought and DIY products for pest problems, including Bell Environmental’s Catch-It Glue Traps.
The website should have a feature that prevents users from being negatively surprised with unexpected pest-control service cost and pricing.
The website should provide a space where users can find more reviews to increase trust in the brand.
There needs to be a way to remind users of the benefits of Bell Environmental after the service is completed to increase word of mouth.
With this information, we determined the following problem statement. I had the responsibility of editing the problem statement and hypothesis statement to better reflect the goals of the user and brand and include measures of success.
The Bell Environmental desktop will be redesigned to address the company's goal to improve its online presence during the pandemic. Through our research, we found that current pest control service websites are not providing the necessary information for homeowners, who experience heightened stress when facing pests in their homes, to find the most trustworthy and affordable method for pest control. This is negatively impacting traffic to the Bell Environmental website and interaction with the website.
We believe that our desktop app will connect users with resources and information that can be helpful in deciding the best method of pest control works for them. Success will be measured by quantitative measures of user interaction on the website, traffic to the website, traffic to social media pages and user satisfaction surveys.
Although we audited the website as a group, I took on the responsibility of auditing the website based on Nielsen’s Usability Heuristics. Looking at Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics, I found the following problems with the website:
Visibility of System Status: Bell Environmental’s website do not communicate whether a user is on an older version of the website or not.
Match between system and the real world: Although the website used plain language, because the text is not well broken up, there is too much content to digest for users.
User control and freedom: The website does succeed in providing breadcrumbs for users.
Consistency and standards: The large blocks of text are inconsistent with user expectation of having information more organized.
Error prevention: The website provides error messages for its Contact page.
Recognition rather than recall: User memory load is high when interacting with Bell Environmental’s website due to numerous tabs and poor Information Architecture.
Flexibility and efficiency of use: Because the website holds a large number of resources and information related to the Bell Environmental’s services, the website can significantly improve with additional shortcuts. Also, the website is not responsive leading to the dropdown menu to break when the screen size is minimized. This hinders users’ ability to use the website in various external contexts and on various devices of different sizes.
Aesthetic and minimalistic design: This was the first failed heuristic that I recognized. The websites small font size, large texts, dull colors and faded pictures make the website visually outdated and aesthetically displeasing.
Help user recover, diagnose and recover from errors. The website provides error messages.
Help and documentation: While the website provides resources for general pest control information, there is not much assistance in helping users navigate through the website.
To create a better navigation experience for users, we conducted a card sorting activity to determine how to better categorize the website. Our findings led to un updated sitemap where we included a Community link in the top navigation that included links to a community forum, Google and Yelp reviews and testimonials.
Through brainstorming, we as a group came up with a number of solutions that we prioritized using MOSCOW method. After we prioritized our features, I was responsible for creating a series of user stories to rank our prioritized features.
Once we determined the ideal features to include, we created user flows indicating the ideal paths users will take to accomplish their goals with our new features and information architecture.
We started our prototypes with low-fi sketches for each user flow. I took on the responsibility of designing the low-fi prototypes and the mid-fi wireframes for the landing page, the Live Chat user flow and the user flow for writing a testimonial. In this stage, I discovered a possible confusion between the terms “rating” and “testimonials.” While testimonials are typically positive, ratings can be positive or negative. Therefore, the mid-fi wireframes were updated to no longer include star ratings. In addition, the final page for the testimonial user flow was later adjusted to include the statement, “We will let you know if your kind words have been chosen for our website.” This indicated that these particular comments submitted must be approved before being posted.
After receiving user feedback on the initial low-fi sketches created by my teammate, I took on the responsibility of creating the mid-fi wireframe for the user flows of leaving a comment and replying to a comment in the community forum. In informal usability tests where we observed how users navigate through our low-fi prototype to accomplish given tasks, we received feedback including, “I could not find ‘leave a comment’ in community forum...It was too busy.” I created the mid-fi wireframe for the community forum page to include links Bell Environmental’s Bed Bug Blog and make call-to-action buttons more noticeable.
Live Chat User Flows, Low-fi Prototypes and Mid-fi Wireframes
Testimonials User Flows, Low-fi Prototypes and Mid-fi Wireframes
We tested our Mid-Fi wireframes using Maze. Due to limitations with the user-testing website we were not able to test the Live Chat feature. However, results found that the community forum user flows had the highest usability score with the least amount of misclicks. This indicated that the flow was intuitive and call-to-action links were clear. Flows that scored the lowest included the pest library user flow, where users are able to select the type of pest that they have encountered to learn more about the pest and solutions to eliminate them, and the pricing estimate user flow, where users are able to receive an estimate of the desired service based on filters including type of living space, level of infestation and type of service.
Based on the feedback from the mid-fi usability testing, solutions included the following:
A change in the sitemap to adjust the information architecture of the top navigation, specifically the Common Pests option
Improved labeling of pests in the pest library for testing mid-fi testing purposes
Changing the location of the Live Chat
The ability to input information for the Pricing Estimate user flow
The ability to input information for Register and Payment user flow
Clarifying the difference in tasks between registering as a new user and creating an installment plan
Although the group design project ended with the usability tests, I continued the project to update the wireframe with the feedback for research participants.
First, I updated the sitemap to create a separate top navigation for testimonials.
Second, I redesigned the price estimate pages to give clearer indication of the goal of the feature, improve the labeling of links, and the call-to-actions.
Third, I moved the Live Chat to the Contact page to allow users to use the other resources available on the website first.
Fourth, following the MOSCOW feature prioritization method done with my group, I removed the payment installment feature.
Bell Environmental Final Sitemap
Bell Environmental Homepage and Contact Page Wireframe
Bell Environmental Community Forum Wireframe
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
This project was a great opportunity to work with designers who enjoy seeking opportunities to challenge their knowledge of team collaboration and design platforms like Figma and Miro. In addition, as one of the members with the longest experience in design, the project was a great opportunity to share my knowledge of design platforms with my teammates.
A significant challenge for this project was the prioritization of features. Each feature idea created within my team aided in addressing the frustration of our user persona. However, some features were ideated with assumptions made outside of the data collected from our initial user interviews. Therefore, part of the iterative process was to go back and re-prioritize the features that were most aligned with the goals and pain points of our users.
Because this project primarily focused on adding features, there is much room for improvement in the current content of the website. Areas for improvement include changing UI elements like font size and typeface, colors, and the use of images to convey messages. In addition, the website must be responsive.
Overall, this project was another learning experience in working in a unique team dynamic and operating under Lean UX methods.