When was the last time you were told you don't exist? Trans and gender non-binary people hear this message every day, from politicians to passersby... and even user interfaces.
UXer Lora Rowan and I are using UX Design to address this problem by redesigning interfaces to validate and empower Trans and non-binary people. After learning most people in these groups use Facebook, we focused our attention on adjusting its Sign-up and Changing Personal Info user flows.
Status: This project is ongoing (currently in testing).
Over 50%of Millennial and Gen Z people see gender as a spectrum.
Over 30% of Gen Z people don't identify as heterosexual.
Currently, over 40% of non-heterosexual, non-binary people in the U.S. will commit suicide.
The Objective No one deserves to live in a social space that pushes them to suicide, be they Gen Z or Baby Boomers. In order to change that social space, we endeavor to:
Explore the experiences of non-heterosexual and non-binary people have with common user interfaces,
designate opportunities for improvement,
and design alternatives that leave users feeling validated, respected, and confident.
- Affinity Diagramming
- Secondary research (videos, blogs, articles)
- Tertiary Research (HRC, UX Podcast, etc.)
- User Surveys
- User Interviews
- As-Is testing
- Affinity Diagramming
- Sociological Analysis
The Approach and Synthesis
1. Check our Assumptions - Affinity Diagramming
Before doing anything, we created affinity diagrams to force us to articulate and challenge our assumptions surrounding Trans and non-binary experiences online.
2. Test Hypothesis - Surveys
After hypothesizing on our user groups and their experiences, we collaboratively designed a survey to test these hypotheses and generate data.
3. Dig into Specific Experiences - Interviews and Testing
Analyzing survey data showed us how people actually understand gender and what part it plays in their everyday, digital life. This let us focus on our target user group with Interviews and As-Is testing for baseline KPI measurement.
The Results 1. There are three mental models for gender. People tend to understand gender as a binary, a spectrum, or as a socially constructed label with no clear boundaries or measurable increments. Goal: Design a UI that intersect sand supports each mental model without alienating ardent believers in specific models.
2. Behavior is more determined by plurality than gender or sexuality. We found that sexuality and gender didn't correlate with acceptance of multiple mental models of gender, but an openness to and respect of difference did. Goal: Allow users to easily and selectively protect their gender information according to their social environment.
3. Users' worst experiences weren't on dating sites like we thought - they were on Facebook. Because people use Facebook for so many more social activities than dating or hook-up sites, they are exposed to more types and more degrees of negative experiences on Facebook. Goal: Focus further research and design work on Facebook user flows that require the input or adjusting of gender information.
• Preference Testing
• Affinity Mapping
• User Flows
Discover Opportunities - Qualitative Preference Testing. Out of the gate we had some ideas of how to adjust gender UI so the user could choose an option aside from Male/Female without feeling second class. I included these in a survey to gather qualitative reactions.
Design for MVC* - Affinity Diagramming, User Flows. After pairing data from preference testing with user's stories of their experiences on Facebook, we found lots of problems to work on. By affinity diagramming that data, we caught on to which user flows were most common or impactful, and started on Sign Up and Change Info for our MVC - Minimum Viable Change.
Divergence-Convergence - Design Studio, Voting. I facilitated several Design Studio exercises to get us iterating on more effective designs, and followed each with a period of reflection and voting. This let us take the best of each design round and improve it down to granular detail.
Make it Testable - Wireframes. I built our sketches into wireframes so we could test their usefulness, usability, and delight with actual people. I aimed for higher fidelity frames in order to force our designs to closely match Facebook's standards, as well as present test participants with an experience that feels like using Facebook.
• Guerrilla Testing
• User Testing
Right now we're in the late stages of recruiting people to test out the design's prototype.
Moderated User Testing will include:
Welcoming participants and brief explanation of what we're testing and how we're doing it;
A short interview to learn about their current mental context, location within the user grouping framework, and build trust through rapport;
Evaluative data gathering by testing open-ended, task-based scenarios with the participant;
Reflecting on the test with the participant (eg. "What would you change about this?);
Debreif and Thank the participant, explaining how the information they've provided will be used.
This project is still in testing, so there aren't outcomes to share. In the meantime, here are our KPIs:
Usefulness - Match to Mental Model
Usability - Task Completion: Setting Gender Identity - Time on Task
Delightfulness - Facial Reaction
For big insight, you have to sit with discomfort. When synthesizing user data, the original user group frameworks felt off and I couldn't explain why. By sitting with that discomfort, I realized we were using the wrong method to interpret data. We changed our method and found insightful user groups as a result.
When dealing with social questions, listen to the social sciences. UX incorporates great insights about individual behavior and schemata into its design paradigm, but lacks means to easily generate and understand social behavior and schemata. Leaning on sociology helped us answer social problems, and we'll likely do so again in the future.