Viasat Inc. is a global communications company that provides services across the defense and commercial sectors. Since 2013, Viasat has been an industry leader in satellite internet, making its name by providing high-speed connections to communities that could not be reached by traditional cable. However, with the emergence of well-funded competitors such as SpaceX's Starlink and Amazon's Project Kupier, it is more important than ever for Viasat to ensure a great experience for new and existing users.
Viasat's website was designed using a drag and drop site builder, which made it lack in both visual design and a cohesive user experience. Our challenge was to establish a deeper connection with the targeted audience of rural users by redesigning the website in a way that makes it easy for a rural audience to understand and navigate.
Our student design team with the help of Professor Michael Meyer and design director Neil McIver:
Teammates (Research): Hannah Yick, Donna Kim, Sophia Lui, Hannah Clemente, Jenny Hofilena, Jonathan Zheng, Steven Molotnikov, Katherine Ju, Jocelyn Horng, Krishiv Vora
Teammates (Design): Steven Molotnikov, Jocelyn Horng, Katherine Ju
Our research began with limitations, due to company policy we were unable to conduct user testing with the targeted audience. Due to privacy limitations we were unable to gain access to current website analytics as well as SEO data. However, we were able to gain access to Viasat's existing user personas and it helped us identify who would really benefit from Viasat's service, to help inform our design decisions.
We gathered user information through other means such as online forums and customer reviews to identify the customer's perspective on Viasat as a company. Our solution to a lack of usability testing was to conduct a heuristic analysis. Each team member put themself into the shoes of typical users and critiqued the website from the perspective of potential customers of satellite internet. To bolster our findings we also extensively interviewed the Viasat team to identify common pain points from their interaction with customers.
Problem 1: A lack of focus on what makes Viasat unique
Problem 2: Wordiness inhibits effective skimming and a clear mental model
The team individually conducted a heuristic analysis of the Viasat website, before converging together to present our insights on Miro. I personally created the UX flow shown below to highlight the complexity of navigating through Viasat's website, and some of my personal insights in the heuristic analysis include:
1. Unintuitive buttons making navigation difficult
2. Absence of a hierarchal division for text made it time-consuming for users to reach useful information
3. Lack of focus on what differentiates the company from its competitors
Key Takeaway: Limiting the amount of information on the landing page not only enables the user to more likely retain information, but allows the business to create highlighted sections on important information that is more readily noticeable.
With our research complete, my team and I understood the priorities of the user and how we could design for their needs. Our synthesis culminated in a final problem statement and solution.
After lots of deliberation over the research results our student team diverged into two design teams with the intent on highlighting Viasat's brand through two contrasting design approaches.
One team would retain a more conservative approach in line with Viasat’s core design themes, affording my team the ability to be more progressive and undertake some design risks to push the boundary of what Viasat’s internet page could look like. Under this approach, my team chose to focus on simplifying user flow, readability, and addressing the target audience's needs by radically changing the visualization of Viasat's website.
To begin designing we first modeled our designs with a visual style guide that followed Viasat's original brand design. Reflecting the elegance and modernistic approach Viasat seeks to offer its consumers.
After multiple rounds of iteration, our final design focused on a linear UX flow that would be implemented with a 1 page scrolling design. Upon loading into the website users would be prompted with a 6 question survey to immediately gauge user needs and match them with a suitable internet plan, before users gained access to the rest of the website.
Working with Viasat has allowed me the experience of understanding the amount of research necessary to establish the needs of a company. This project helped strengthen my understanding of empathy, and the role it has when designing for a persona that one has never encountered. Under the guidance of Director Neil I learned how to navigate through the constraints design projects would not normally encounter.