How might we improve the experience for prospective research participants?



My role: UX Researcher

Date: May 2018 - June 2018

Method: information architecture · competitive analysis · wireframing · prototyping · usability testing



The Behavioural Research Lab (BRL) is a fully equipped laboratory facility dedicated to study human behaviour and provide insights for business research at Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. I interned on the BRL management team as a research assistant and spearheaded the website redesign proposal of the lab in the summer of 2018.


Although the Behavioural Research Lab (BRL) is the only laboratory with full equipment and facility for behavioural experiments and research at Rotman, the current access to the BRL resource is difficult to discover and navigate through the Rotman home page. Therefore, the BRL website requires major update on the information architecture and site navigation flow.

Primary objectives

  1. Grow and Develop the BRL Lab to be in line with, and an integral part of, the Rotman brand identity

  2. Expand the resources of BRL research and study pools beyond the limited number of business researchers and credit-participating subjects in the subject pools.

  3. Create a “one-stop-shop” to house anything and everything a Rotman Researcher or Behavioural Research Lab Participant may need access to.


Competitive Analysis

We looked at different Behavioural Research Lab websites from various research institutes and compared their pros and cons in usability, information architecture, and navigation design. One of the major challenges of lab website design is to have simple organization of all the research resources and clear instructions for different user groups (i.e. academic researchers and experiment participants) to access corresponding website sections.

Most existing lab websites are grouped by functions (e.g. policies, documents, facilities, publication, FAQ, news, etc.). However, these information architecture design lack internal logic to guide website viewers to access respective resources. Since there are two major user groups: researchers and participants, it will be better to create website sections based on the need of each group.


Focus group

To further understand the needs of our primary user groups, researchers and experiment participants at Rotman, we gathered current faculty researchers and students to discuss their thoughts and feelings on the original BRL website.

Researchers expressed the need for a one-stop research resource hub that can integrate all the necessary documents with a simpler research application process.

Students expressed the need for direct access and real time updated study information on the site for easier access to experiment participation.

"We want the Rotman Behavioural Research Lab website to be the only site URL users ever have to visit."


Website User Flow iteration

Based on research findings from competitive analysis and focus group study, we decided to organize the BRL website by the needs of our primary user (i.e. researchers and participants) and provide clear navigation instructions for both groups. Most lab documents will be hosted within each subsection (i.e. "Conduct Research", "Participate in Research") to simplify the cognitive load of viewing many resources at once. We prioritized the information hierarchy and simplified the number of steps required to access each function.

I made the first versions of user flow iteration and presented it to the lab manager. We then decided to further simplify the navigation process by reducing the number of steps required to access each section and research resources. 

User Flow Iteration 1

User Flow Iteration 1

User Flow Iteration 2

User Flow Iteration 2

final low-fi prototype

We presented the low-fi wireframes to the end users. For each user, we walked through the design catered to their needs. We also presented the major alternative design direction. We asked the end users about the navigation flow and their general impression. After each feedback session, we incorporated the changes.