Google Expeditions

Enhanced Search & Discovery  ·  Fall 2016 – Spring 2017

Expeditions Search & Discovery

Background

Google Expeditions initially launched with a limited set of virtual field trips that could easily be browsed in a flat list. As the number of field trips grew to hundreds there became a need for improved search/filtering functionalities as well as a scalable organization system. The ability to promote specific field trips was also desired.

My Role

  • UX Designer
  • UX Prototyper
  • UI Designer
  • Assistant UX Researcher

Platforms & Screen Sizes

  • Android mobile and tablet
  • iPhone and iPad

Goals

  • Make in-app Expeditions search more powerful and structured
  • Highlight diverse and changing set of field trips to users
  • Ensure that new field trips added to the library are surfaced to users

Users

Expeditions users consist of two groups: 1) Guides and 2) Explorers. The experience requires one guide who will be guiding one to many explorers.

The target user group for this feature were Guides, who are typically teachers in a school setting with a broad range of backgrounds and tech savviness. The guide experience is typically conducted on a tablet, however phone-sizes screens are also supported.

Preliminary Research

Preliminary research was conducted with teachers who were current users of Expeditions in order to understand how they currently find field trips and to gain insights into what solutions could possibly be helpful. I also spoke with our internal content creation team.

Teachers
  • Utilized a mixture of searching and browsing
  • Searching when they have exact field trip or topic in mind
  • Browsing (scrolling) when not sure or just exploring
  • Wish there were suggestions, recommendations and categories/subjects
  • Wish there were auto-suggest for search
  • Often revisit the same field trips
  • Interested in discovering what new field trips are available
Content team
  • Planning to do batch release of field trips based on themes (e.g. Black History Month, Women’s History Month). Wanted to showcase
  • Wanted to highlight new and best field trips to users

Determining Requirements

Preliminary research findings were converted into a set of user tasks that this project needed to solve for.


User tasks

  • “I’m looking for a specific field trip which I know exists with the title [...].”
  • “I’m looking for a specific field trip which I know exists about the topic [...].”
  • “I’m looking to discover field trips about the topic [...].”
  • “I’m looking for field trips I’ve viewed recently.”
  • “I’d like to see newly added field trips.”
  • “I’d like to see recommended field trips for me.”
  • “I’d looking for my favorite field trips.”



Feature set

I then distilled these user tasks into a bucketed feature set for the project which would be used to inform the design solutions needed.


Discovery
  • Showcase new and best field trips
  • Categorization of field trips
  • Showcase recommended field trips
  • Showcase recently viewed field trips
  • Showcase special, temporary themes (e.g. Women’s History Month)
  • Scalable frameworks for future growth
Searching
  • Suggestions
  • Recent searches
  • Auto-complete of queries
Starring
  • Marking favorite field trips
  • Retrieving previously marked favorite field trips

Low Fidelity

I use Sketch as my primary design tool throughout my entire design process. Because it's so easy to duplicate and manipulate shapes in Sketch, I typically start at a level of fidelity slightly above typical wireframes.

The proposed solution involved a flexible framework of modules in both the homescreen and search experience that would allow our engineering and content teams to surface appropriate suggestions and recommendations.

Homescreen layout and interactions.

Initial search screen.

Search screen scrolled and keyboard dismissed

Possible landing screen for category view.

User Testing

Remote user testing was conducted with 7 teachers from various parts of the United States. I created semi-functional prototypes with Framer Studio from the wireframe designs so we could test usability and comprehension of the interactions and views. Users were given a series of tasks to complete. The success of the designs was evaluated on whether or not those tasks could be completed.

We also conducted a card sorting activity to help determine what categories and carousel sections would be useful to teachers.

Homescreen layout and interactions.

Search view and interactions.


Takeaways from the study

Users understood and really enjoyed the new features. Most of them expected customized recommendations based on previous activity. This understanding helped us inform the prioritization of carousel groupings and alerted us to the fact that we needed additional logging capabilities in our app to better determine recommended content for users.

Users wanted and expected customized recommendations.

Unfortunately on initial release our product was not able to provide customized recommendations, so the framework has yet to be fully utilized. Future releases will make this possible, however.

Finals