The United States Geological Survey, in partnership with Point Blue, recently launched an online flood map. They wanted to update the site to responsive web and make the tool more useful for a wider audience.
Embedded on a team of growth marketers I conducted a research phase for the formation of the growth strategy. I also independently contributed designs for an onboarding experience.
An integrated approach with growth + design
Flood data is important to many types of users but - at the time of the project - wasn’t being widely used. Many people we interviewed were unaware that flood projections exist in an interactive tool. To increase traffic the tool was converted to responsive web with an integrated social growth strategy.
The users who knew about the tool didn’t know what to do with it. In order to make the data more accessible I designed an educational on-boarding experience.
I completed this project alongside a team of designers working on this responsive map tool:
Provisional personas for a relevant product experience
USGS has struggled with making their data relevant to a wide audience. Together with the growth team I interviewed users from three different user groups identified by the stakeholder survey: home and land owners, planners, and environmental activists. From these interviews, we formed three provisional personas which formed the basis for the growth strategy.
Contextualizing the onboarding UX
I conducted comparative research to explore how other applications onboard users to their maps. This ensured that I followed patterns that would feel natural to users. I gained insights to:
Create as little friction as possible. The onboarding experiences allow users to swipe or scroll, which involves less friction for the user. Interacting with onboarding content in this way feels more like one step rather than several.
Present the UI in light of the value prop. The explanation of the UI is worded in ways that clearly communicate the value proposition and why it will be useful for the user.
Keep the ratio of graphics to text at about 2:1 Don’t overwhelm the users with too much info right off the bat.
Keep brand and tone consistent with the rest of the app. The onboarding screens are an extension of the main app: same tone, branding, etc.
Aiming for wide adoption: a social growth strategy
During ideation I collaborated with a growth team to flesh out a strategy serving the three personas. I presented this strategy to the design team to inform their work on the UI. The mechanisms for engagement are:
Notifications such as Reminders, Alerts, and a Welcome Series
Engaging content like blog posts, news, and photo/video content
Sharing 4/8 users I interviewed would share (or liked to be shared with) if something critical happened, so making all content shareable
Sequencing the onboarding and enabling action
Using the style guide created by the main design team I began to mock up versions of an onboarding flow. It was important to create something that could be changed and updated frequently by USGS as they continue to develop their onboarding content.
Through conversation, it became apparent that to avoid information overload, we would need to provide users with the ability to take action. With input from USGS and Point Blue I developed a couple small tasks that users could engage with to bypass paralyzing overwhelm.
The results of my work
Growth and content are linked
In our case some of the growth strategy depended on developing content such as notifications and news. In the future creating more lines of collaboration between content and growth will result in a stronger, more realistic strategy.
There are significant constraints when working with government.
Checking in early and often with government stakeholders ensured that we didn’t hit any stumbling blocks within the foundation of our work.
Don’t be too attached
Content was heavily scoped by the time I arrived at wireframing - which meant I was thinking too prescriptively about the solution and spent too much time making each wireframe “work.” Wireframes are all about coming up with many creative solutions, not just iterations of one solution, so in the future I’ll create a better separation between knowing the problem and how to solve it - by wireframing more quickly and less perfectly.