User Research

Card sorting exercise to understand user mental models.


As a graduate student, I had many assignments that required user research. This example demonstrates one of my more thorough user research efforts. The overall goals were to assess the usability of a website provided by a global hotel/resort chain from the user’s perspective. The project began with a brainstorm session of business goals for this effort, which were used to compose an additional list of usability goals for guiding interview questions. The next step was developing an interview plan consisting of:

  • The usability goals,
  • User research questions,
  • A hypotheses of the results,
  • An interview guide

Task analysis usability testing with individual participants was considered the best way to conduct this research. I interviewed three men who have traveled for both business and pleasure and have used websites like this site. Different steps were taken to understand the users’ mental models, including basic question/answer based interview, task analysis, and card sorting efforts. Each usability test was recorded, reviewed and key points made by the users were saved for reporting. The final report was created to communicate the research methods used, the findings and design recommendations to improve the website. You can download the final report and the interview plan here.

  Download the full report


  • User Personas
  • Information Architecture
  • Wireframes: Design Recommendations

Tools & Methods

  • Task Analysis Usability Testing & Card Sorting
  • Adobe Premiere Pro CC