My WWU UX capstone team had the opportunity to work with Artefact as our client in consulting the redesign of the ASUS dual band gigabit router. Our task was to research, design, prototype, and test a reboot to the current router experience.
Provide the most benefit to the user experience within an 11 week timeline
Marina Semez / Graphic and user experience designer
Emma Nestvold / Industrial and user experience designer
User Research / Moodboard / Concepting / Usability Testing / User Flow & Scenarios / Sketch Prototyping / Brand & Identity / Pitch Deck / User Experience
The project proposal outlined the different phases of the process and a detailed 11-week schedule. View the project proposal here.
PHASE 1 : IDENTIFYING CURRENT PROBLEM AREAS
Configuring a router is already an intimidating process for many users. The packaging and its contents should set the tone for the brand and the rest of the experience. Currently, the contents are unorganized and overwhelming. How can we take the stress out of unboxing?
The setup process is simply connecting two cords and turning the router and modem off and back on. Many people may find this to be an intimidating task if they are unfamiliar with routers. How can we increase user confidence during setup?
The connection process also brings an uneasy feeling, especially in the transition of media. The user goes from paper, to hardware, to configuring their account and networks on a digital device. How can we smooth the transition from physical to digital?
"It has a very not user friendly interface. It's my worst nightmare."
“Killer router for heavy usage. Handles heavy traffic with ease while providing commercial level control of your home network.”
The quotes above reveal two sides of customer satisfaction: Those who understand routers and appreciate ASUS performance and customization features, and those who are more unfamiliar with the technology who are frustrated by a design that makes them feel inadequate. How can the product experience support both high-tech and low-tech users?
PHASE 2 : DEFINE: RESEARCH & SYNTHESIS
Based on our research we analyzed what we could improve in our given timeframe. The areas that were causing the most pain points for our user were the packaging handout (instructions) and the router homepage. These features are essential in setting up the router and also managing personal/guest networks later on.
My teammate took an in-depth analysis of the current 60 features in the router to determine which ones could be consolidated or erased. This was essential in organizing the content of our website in the most efficient way.
To confirm which of the features are most important, we asked hight-tech users online for their input. Using the sub-reddit r/hardware, we were able to confirm with advanced users what features were important to them. These include:
Port Forwarding, Static IPS, Firmware Updates, Changing the Network Channel, Controlling the QoS, Traffic and Bandwidth Management, Parental Controls, Open WRT, Guest Networks, and File Sharing or File Storage.
With research findings in mind, we took to creating as many user flows as we could. Many of the concepts focused on integrating simplified language and customization options. All while keeping in mind both the high-tech and low-tech users who are currently using the ASUS router. How can we help the low-tech users understand setup and basic features without overwhelming them, while also providing advanced features to the high-tech users?
Customization options were benefitial, but it was important to keep the site simple and not require too much from the user. In the next phase we would see which features should be permanent and which ones should be optional. There was also benefit behind having a status bar at the top of the screen to allow the user to automatically recognize whether their network has a strong connection (green status bar) or a weak connection (orange status bar).
Using low fidelity paper prototyping, each concept was tested on 10 different individuals. Users were asked to connect the router by following our instructional prototypes, complete the setup online, and navigate different pages of the website.
The instructions sheet was still more complicated than people wanted, but having icons referring to the different steps was helpful. Can we simply the instructions further?
The modular, simplified interface was much easier to understand but opening it up for customization got clunky. Can we simplify these features while making the experience feel personal?
Current Asus Branding
The current brand guidelines are messy and unclear. Graphic styles range from heavy and dark, to modern and minimal. Neither seems to represent the reliability and integrity of ASUS.
A Brand Update
Do high-tech users really appreciate the "hacker-look" that ASUS is going for? We created a set of 5 mood boards and took them to the Computer Science department on our University's campus. With the brand in mind, we asked, which mood board looks the most powerful, dependable, high-tech, and inviting, and furthermore, which interface would you want to use?
Based on feedback, the proposed look for updating the ASUS website should be a combination of "Darker Tech" and "Minimal Tech." Below are the words that were most heavily associated with each style, which best represent the ASUS brand.
The hacker look was erased and we applied the updated style to a high-fidelity mock-up of what the website could look like. Brand guidelines were also created and applied to our packaging extensions.
It was clear that the instructions were overwhelming to our users. We found ways to condense and simplify the page, including eliminating the web setup completely; the dichotomy of looking at screens on a physical piece of paper was confusing and unnecessary.
The Final Design
After testing multiple prototypes with varying levels of customization, we found that our users want a more hands-off approach. Customization took too much effort, so the homepage was narrowed down to only the essentials.
Finally, we considered how this design would appear on multiple devices.