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Redesigning and rebranding pnsn.org

Dates:

Role:

Description:

July 2019 - October 2021
UX Designer, Visual Designer

A complete redesign of the Pacific Northwest Sesimic Networks branding and website (pnsn.org) to improve legibility, consistency, and access to information both online and offline.

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The Problem

The Pacific Northwest Seismic Networks website has a wealth of information for scientists and the general public. However, it is confusing to navigate through, and the amount of information can be overwhelming. The design and branding of the website also feels dated and some design patterns do not match users expectations.

Background

The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) is the regional seismic network for Washington and Oregon. They operate all of the seismic sensors within the region, analyze the seismic data, and report that data to the public. The main way they report this data is through pnsn.org, the public facing website operated by the PNSN. Pnsn.org is the main point of contact for a lot of people in Washington and Oregon to view recent earthquakes, use various products, and look at information about earthquakes and volcanoes.

The custom search page on pnsn.org. It shows various filtes and a map. Some filters include magnitude and date.
a screenshot of a google analytics line graph. It says "Users 127k, Sessions 205k, Bounce Rate 62.97%, and Session Duration 2m 41s" The graph hovers around 10k and there is a spike on July 12th up to about 65k.
The pnsn.org homepage. It shows the earthquakes near volcanoes data visualization, list of recent earthquakes, map of recent earthquakes, three seismo blog posts titles to click on, and the twitter feed.

Research

In order to determine areas of improvement within the current website, usability testing was conducted. Participants who had previously accessed pnsn.org and used the internet daily. There were three main sections of the sessions.

Card Sorting Activity

Determine users mental model around the information on pnsn.org

Ranking Activity

Determine how users prioritize information available on pnsn.org

Three Tasks

Determine the usability and ease of navigation of pnsn.org

Photo of the card sorting activity completed by a participant. There are the cards with sticky notes at the top of the different categories.
A photo of the filled out ranking activity. There are numbers next to informational categories on pnsn.org

Task 1
“You are at the University of Washington in Seattle, and think you’ve just felt an earthquake. You decide to go to pnsn.org to look at your location and the recent earthquakes to learn if you just felt an earthquake.”

Seven participants completed usability testing sessions.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Approximate age: 48 years old

6/7

Visit and use pnsn.org 1-2 days per week.

7/7

Have previously used pnsn.org

7/7

Use the internet for at least 1 hour per day.

I completed affinity analysis on the qualitative data available.

pnsn.org Usability Study (3).jpg
pnsn.org Usability Study (3).jpg
pnsn.org Usability Study (3).jpg

I also completed analysis on the quantitative data collected. This included sorting and ranking data, as well as Likert scale data.

How enjoyable was your experience?

Screenshot (130).png

5

4

3

2

1

Not

2

3

4

Very

How usable did you find pnsn.org?

Screenshot (130).png

5

4

3

2

1

Very Difficult

2

3

4

Very Easy

I found pnsn.org ...

5

4

3

2

1

Screenshot (131).png

Very Disorganized

2

3

4

Very Organized

Informational Category
Average Ranking

The information on pnsn.org engaged my interest.

5

4

3

2

1

Screenshot (131).png

Strongly Disagree

2

3

4

Strongly Agree

It was easy to find the information on pnsn.org.

5

4

3

2

1

Screenshot (132).png

Strongly Disagree

2

3

4

Strongly Agree

Research Findings

My findings were split into three categories, with three findings per category. These categories include organization, information, and presentation.

Current & Recent information is the most important information, and is what users commonly use the website for.

“I want to know what's happening and what's going to happen”

“First thing I’m going to look for is what’s just happened or is currently happening”

7/7

Said that Task 1 (finding recent earthquakes) is mot similar to how they use the website.

The site is unorganized and users find it hard to navigate.

“I had to go through several places each time to find what I wanted and I'm familiar with the site”

“I feel like I'm going on a bit of a treasure hunt”

“I can never find what I'm looking for the first time around”

Users have trouble finding information, and want specific information highlighted.

“I want to know historical information about [the monroe earthquake] but I don't know where to find that”

“I go to USGS maps for recent earthquakes before PNSN. NEIC has historic activity and beach balls”

“Have something on homepage reminding people to be prepared in an emergency”

Users enjoy having access to a lot of information and trust PNSN as a source.

“I enjoy having all the information readily available”

"Feels like there's a lot of data behind it"

"If I was gonna look for more resources I'd come here first cause it'd give quality resources"

The amount of information available can be overwhelming.

"My first thing looking at this -  and I don't even have it all out - is that there are too many"

"Wow you got a lot here"

"There's a lot of data there - work could be done to consolidate a lot of information"

There is a disconnect between what users care about and what scientists care about.

"I want to keep science accessible to people so they have access"

"As an end user, some of the data doesn't speak to me"

"This is really in depth data [waveforms and seismograms]"

Some labels don’t make sense to users. They seem too scientific and organization focused.

“Outreach - from the point of view of the organization it might make sense but to the public it doesn't”

“Query is too scientific”

“Earthquakes is a very general navigation title”

Users gravitate towards visual representations of data, whether that's maps, pictures, or data tables.

“I’m kind of a map person”

“These pictures make me feel like it's really talking about something”

“I like the data tables personally”

The site’s function does not match users expectations.

“I thought I was gonna zoom in but it took me to a separate page”

“if I click it sorts! I would not have guessed that cause the mouse gives a typing cursor instead of a pointer finger”

“I expected clicking on the list would highlight the map”

Solution
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