Truthsift is a platform for users to present, discuss, and rationally debate on topics in order to reach the truth of the matter.
CEO & Founder
The site had too many features - creating a complex system that was difficult to use. It had a legend with 19 items to help users understand and use its intricate graph. When people attempted to read its content, it generated a persistent text overlay and made it problematic to read, follow, and navigate through a topic.
Figure 1: Truthsift
It was apparent from the heuristic evaluation Truthsift suffered from numerous usability issues. It relied on cognitive recall vs recognition, offered minimal user control and freedom, and created a sense of displacement while navigating through the site.
So we conducted in-depth interviews to evaluate the overall experience of new and seasoned users. We asked:
What brought you to Truthsift and why?
What was it like for you to learn how to use Truthsift?
How is your experience now in comparison to when you first started?
Can you show me how you add a topic, follow a debate, and post a statement?
"It took me at least 2 days to get started and figure out how to use Truthsift."
"I don't understand the graph. It's very difficult to read and follow the discussions."
"I honestly cannot tell you if a topic has been established or refuted."
System Usability Scale (SUS) Survey
We then had the participants take the SUS Survey to measures its usability & learnability. Truthsift alarmingly scored in the 34th percentile - an 'F' grade compared to industry standards.
Figure 2: Truthsift SUS Survey Results
Regardless of their experience level, users were clearly dissatisfied. It took them days to learn how to use Truthsift. They relied on trials and errors to navigate through the site. When they returned days later, they could not recall how to perform the same task they had previously completed successfully.
So why did they come back? Users said they liked the idea of Truthsift. Unlike other sites, Truthsift was a place where they can debate on a topic driven by facts and not opinions.
Figure 3: Truthsift Usability Issues
Based on our research findings, we knew we had to resolve the usability issues first and foremost to sustain the existing users and attract new ones.
We removed the unnecessary user functions/features to simplify the graph and created a top-level hierarchy so readers can easily follow a topic.
Figure 3: Proposed Truthsift Sitemap
How Might We
Following the HMW method...
How might we make onboarding easy for first-time users?
How might we help users add a topic, contribute to a discussion, and follow a thread discussion with ease?
How might we help returning visitors complete a task they had previously completed intuitively and effortlessly?
Users were referred to Truthsift by family and friends. When they landed on the Home page, it did not convey the company's purpose and value proposition. Users also had to determine how to get started.
I added a hero video to communicate the service it provided and the value it offered.
I displayed a "See How It Works" CTA for new users to learn how to get started.
I created a left-nav menu to give users the flexibility to select the topic of their choice.
I provided a status icon to visually convey the state of the topic as tentatively established or refuted.
STATEMENT DETAIL PAGE
I designed the Statement Detail Page as the central hub for users to add a topic, contribute to a discussion, and follow a thread discussion on a single page. That way, users can depend on cognitive recognition vs recall and can easily remember how to perform the same task they had successfully previously completed with success.
I made a clear "Add Topic" CTA on the header, accessible throughout the site.
I split the detail page into 2 interactive panels - the graph and text sections. The graph provided a high-level perspective on the topic. The text section enabled the users to simultaneously read the content in details without obstruction.
I provided breadcrumbs to generate a sense of place so users knew exactly where they were at on the site.
I added a "Reply" button so users can easily contribute to the discussion. They can also click on the 'Add' icon inside the Pro or Con boxes.
Each module can be expanded or collapse so users can control what they want to view in the text section.
I created a pros and cons list so users can easily digest both sides of an argument and follow the discussion thread.
Graph & Text Interaction
I designed the graph to dynamically changed with the user actions.
A click action triggers a high-level perspective of a statement.
A hover over a box will display the pro or con statement underneath the box.
A click action will update the text section with the statement information.
Truthsift's features produced a level of complexity that hinder the user experience. Users had a difficult time learning Truthsift and reading the content with its intricate graph.
My solution was to:
Introduced a hero video to showcase Truthsift value proposition and added a "See How It Works" CTA on the Home page to facilitate onboarding,
Create a simple interactive graph for users to control which topic and statements to view, and,
Split the Statement Detail into a graphical and textual view so users can easily read, follow, and navigate through a topic within a single page to reduce cognitive recall.
We conducted usability testing after each design sprint and observed the users behavior while executing a task. After the final round of testing, we had the users take the SUS Survey again. Truthsift's score jumped from the 34th to the 74th percentile, above the industry average. Our design improved the usability and learnability by 46%.
The power of asking why...
Our first designed involved two separate views, a graph and a text version. Even though users can toggle between the two views, they could not state which version they preferred. This was a problem for the team. We had to determine which view to set as the default setting. We continued to converse with (experienced and new) users and discovered they needed both views to effectively follow a topic. If we had not persistently asked why, it would not have lead to a new design.