Wicked problem: Fake News — A Case Study

The first week at Ironhack’s UX/UI bootcamp has been really intense and exhausting, at the same time so exciting and developing! Let’s see what result came out of it.

Working in groups, we chose a problem to focus at, going through the Design Process of diverging and converging with the goal to reach a concept of a solution (so we didn’t go through the last phases of developing and testing a concrete prototype).

We decided to focus on the problem with fake news, an especially important topic in these times with spreading of virus and panic. The problem was defined as follows: How Might We help protect people from the fake news that have been assailing our society nowadays?

Empathise

The first phase of the UX design process is to conduct user research. The purpose is to prevent us from designing for ourselves instead of the user.

User research is about collecting data (diverging) and then analyze the data to come to conclusions (converging). We made a Lean Survey Canvas in order to construct our survey:

This answers the questions of:

  • What do we need to learn?
  • What do we already know?
  • Who do we learn from?
  • How are we going to reach these people?

So, we sent out the survey, recieved 42 responses and this is what we found:

  • What people believe makes an article reliable is the research behind it, the channel where it’s presented and the author.
  • People learn mostly about the news in social media, but also radio/podcasts, internet, newspapers and from other people.
  • But — only 4% actually trust social media as a reliable source of information, while newspaper and TV score high in reliability.

Following the survey, we conducted interviews with totally 6 people. Here, we included questions about why people consume news the way they do, which problem they have faced with unverified news and their general experiences with reading and sharing news. We strived for being concrete by asking them how they have behaved the last week rather than in general and encourage stories.

This gave us some additional insights:

  • People are worried about the misinformation in society
  • Even people that are skeptical and critical have mistakingly shared fake news because it was shared from a person they trust
  • There’s an information overload out there
  • Fact checking takes time and it’s hard to know which sources to trust
  • A majority of the interviewees had acted upon a news shared with them, confirming this really is a serious problem.

Define

To begin making sense of our research, we created an affinity board where we grouped insights and quotes from the interviews and the survey.

We then took a close look at our affinity board and voted for insights from users that could be design opportunities. This led us to reframe our first problem definition with a “How Might We” (HMW) statement.

It came out like this:

How Might We make social media as reliable as newspaper?

Personas

Based on insights from our research, we created two personas.

The purpose of personas is to help determine the design direction based on groups of target users. They work as a reference in the developing process, and we sometimes found ourselves ask: “Would Anna use this?”, “What would Alex think about this?”.

Empathy Map Canvas

In order to create even more empathy for our users, to really understand them and visualize their needs, we also made an Empathy Map Canvas based on our persona Alex.

Ideate

Again, time for divergent thinking. We timed 30 minutes and went through the frustrating half an hour of brain overheat.

Once done, we voted for ideas that we saw potential in. We actually didn’t have one idea with more than one vote, but we saw quite clear patterns in what we had voted for.

There were both good and bad ideas…

Prototype

Concept Testing

The brainstorming led us to develop two concepts, which we then presented for potential users (the ones that we earlier interviewed).

The test sessions gave us a divided result — some people seemed to think that the first concept was more interesting and unique, while others thought the first idea seemed hard to visualize and implement and found the second idea more useful.

We changed our minds, went back and forth a couple of times until we decided to develop the second concept since we had a clearer vision of how that could work.

Journey Map

Back to definition again, we made a user journey map for Alex. First, we visualized his current journey (blue stickers and black emotion line) and then his goal journey when using our service (pink stickers and pink emotion line). The orange stickers describes pain points he experiences in the journey.

The use of a journey map is to understand the user’s needs and pain points as well as identify design opportunities.

The user map we created describes Alex waking up, checking his phone wondering what has happened since yesterday, reading the headlines, wondering whether he should share one important headline for his friends to inform them, deciding to do it, leading to people angrily commenting his post for not being verified, leading to him feeling ashamed and angry at himself.

In the goal journey when he uses our service, the pink line is straigth at the end of the journey, indicating his happy mood, compared to the black line that fell hard when he realized his mistake.

Service Blueprint

To define how our service would work and how the different parts of the service connect, we created a service blueprint.

The Service Blueprint again describes the user journey, but adds how the other parts of the business support that journey. This includes the physical evidence, the front stage interactions with the customer, the back stage interactions not visible for the customer as well as the support processes for delivering the service.

Solution

After this whole process, we had decided and defined a service to solve our personas’ problems of misinformation, fact checking difficulties, information overload and unverified news sharing.

Learnings

This was really a process of learning by doing and for me personally, that was challenging since I prefer to really understand the best practices and prepare myself a lot for doing things that I’m new at. Instead, it’s in hindsight I understand what we did well and what we could have improved and I look forward to keep developing insights and skills from this process.

Some concrete improvements we could have done:

  • Before the interviews, defined the goals of the research more.
  • Put more effort and detail in the Empathy Map to create better user understanding.
  • Gone even further in the brainstorming session, try different methods like “Bad idea → Good idea”.
  • Decided for one concept and gone for it — we wasted time and effort going back and forth.
  • Visualized and developed the concept we chose further to make it clearer for ourselves, also leading to a better and deeper presentation of the project.
  • Selected more “Alex” users in the concept testing since we chose to focus on him in the user journey.
  • Presented the whole project better — used the user journey and the service blueprint to support our solution and used more captivating storytelling when presenting the idea.

UX/UI-designer — https://amandanorell.com