Project: Heat Map

Interaction Design

Step #1 – Hold Kick-Off Meeting
HeatMap was an internal project I led while interning at Tangible UX. The goal was to design a web-based tool for people who were looking to relocate within the United States. Users would input the characteristics of the type of place they’d like to live, and HeatMap would provide a list of possibilities, as well as connect the user to further information.


Step #2 – Conduct Interviews & Group Results
The first task was to understand the goals and motivations of people who relocate. I found people to interview by posting an ad on in several cities. A series of questions posed in the ad served as a screener. Then, supported by colleagues, I conducted phone interviews with 13 people who had recently relocated or were planning to relocate soon. I asked people about the process they went through when they chose a place to move, what factors they weighed, as well as how they gathered information before making a decision.

The next step was to pull out the relevant information and quotes from the interview notes and to divide them into 257 anonymized notes. I pulled my colleagues in to help me group the notes by theme up on the office wall into an affinity map.

Interview notes grouped by theme

Interview notes grouped by theme

What came to light was that the criteria people weighed before relocating fell into many distinct categories. I created a concept map in order to see them all together.

Concept map of relocation criteria

Concept map of relocation criteria


Step #3 – Draft Personas & Scenarios
I distilled the 13 interview participants down into personas based on two criteria: system use (light/heavy researchers) and decision-making style (guided by gut or logic). I created three persona documents that included brief bios, a longer scenario (description of their research process) and the features they would want to see in the product (product requirements).



Step #4 – Conduct Competitive Analysis
In order to learn how information consumed by people relocating was being conveyed currently, and to investigate how other sites were successfully using interactive maps and/or filters, I analyzed six partial competitors. I captured my findings in a Competitive Analysis document, focusing on what these sites were doing well that could be learned from.


Step #5 – Create Content Map
Next, I mapped the main content categories in order to see how they related to one another. Because the focus of the map was on content relationships, I included only the sub-categories that linked to other categories. This would inform how the information should be structured.



Step #6 – Create Task Diagrams
I created two high-level diagrams associated with one of the personas. The diagrams mapped out the process the persona would go through to complete certain tasks and would help with the next phase of design. Squares represent information the user sees while diamonds represent actions the user takes.

Task Diagram 1 v1_650

Task Diagram 2 v1_650


Get Moved to Client-Facing Project…
At this point I was moved to another project that was client-facing and a higher priority. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time in the summer to fit it all in and I wasn’t able to continue with HeatMap.