The Times, My Account

- UX Case Study -

While interning at The Times I was briefed to overhaul the current “My Account” section of The Times web experience. Analytics from the current solution showed a distinct lack of ‘self-serving’ from users. I would be looking into how to improve this but still provide clear means to allow users to seek help from various channels. I would also be reviewing and proposing new methods of mechanisms and the means of their interactions; all with the aim of improving recognition and overall success rates of the My Account service.

The following is an outlined summery of the design process that occurred over seven weeks from June to July 2018.

01 - Competitor analysis


A great amount of time was invested into initial competitor analysis. Understanding what already exists is a key steering factor to what could be proposed as our solution; learning from the triumphs/mistakes of others, enabling our platform to follow in the positive footsteps from the industry. Compiling this information allows for easy access for both me and brief stakeholders, leading to greater understanding to direction and a means of revision if necessary.

Key learnings from competitor analysis

  • 01

    Competitor examples feature a unique UI that differs from the global structure of the main application.

  • 02

    All maintain global navigation throughout entering ‘My Account’ while also including secondary navigation in some form to navigate the internal items.

  • 03

    Personalisation plays a prevalent role in providing a unique experience to each user featuring elements such user name or icon as part of navigation or content copy.

  • 04

    An overview or summery of key account information and prevalent items within the ‘My Account’ are presented first to users. Interaction of these would then focus to this item, but would not limit content to only one subject.

The following deck outlines this process in detail, highlighting positives and negatives from a range of different platforms focusing on their experience somewhat similar to our own.

Take a look at the full initial development of the My Account section of The Times.

View deck

02 - Current solution review


Conducting a granular review of our current solution with consideration and comparison to competitor analysis, allows both designers and stakeholders to understand the external scope of the brief and users possible expectations. Highlighting the footfalls of our current solution now provides internal design targets to be meeting through out the design process. Communication with stakeholders should take place to maintain the highlighted issues do not have any greater requirements that I am not aware of.

03 - Current solution testing


To gain insight to how users interact with the current My Account experience, face to face testing sessions were held with four long time Times reads. Users were asked to complete various tasks within the My Account suite. The insights gained from this allowed us to further tailor the design around Times users. This came in the form of tweaking interaction methods to users experience level and expectations surrounding the experience. A short card sorting exercise of the current IA was also undertaken at this tome to gauge user perceptions of both naming conventions and content structures.

Key learnings from current solution testing

  • 01

    Users would like more information around their subscriptions.

  • 02

    ‘My Subscriptions’ could be divided to break up navigation and mechanisms.

  • 03

    Users were unaware of purposes behind mechanisms.

  • 04

    Users would think they completed tasks but functionality incomplete or errors occurred.

  • 05

    Interactions were not structured to provide instant gratification.

  • 06

    Users gravitate to ‘Contact Us’ for subcategories.

  • 07

    Names of some categories and sub categories caused confusion to purpose.

  • 08

    Users seek validation from interactions instantly.

  • 09

    Users struggle to differentiate between individual sub categories.

  • 10

    Users want to self serve their own information.

04 - Proposed IA testing


As previously mentioned a major success metric to this brief would be the amount of users capable to self serve their account needs, without having to request further aid. One of the biggest variables to this metric is the functionality of its information architecture (IA). Multiple iterations of proposed IA went though a series of tests conducted remotely with current Times subscribers. These test were valuable in making the most understandable and effecting IA possible.

Key learnings from proposed IA testing

  • 01

    Although 35% of users prefer to read on print and 30% on mobile, 75% of users use our website to manage their account.

  • 02

    78% of users went against the proposed IA and placed ‘Billing details’ to live inside of ‘My Details’.

  • 03

    61% of users initially went to ‘My Bulletins’ to access their notification settings. The mean confidence of 3.8 showed that they were quite certain of this.

  • 04

    Only 10% of users placed the ability to change their email address within ‘Login & security’; 80% pointed it towards personal info.

  • 05

    40% of users thought that their bank card details would live within ‘Personal info’ where as only 55% went to ‘Billing’.

05 - Ideation and user testing


Once the IA was refined and in a good place we moved onto ideating a solution for the housing. Discovery played a key role in allowing us to have insight to industry convention when sketching and progresing through the various levels of fidelity. At this stage all micro interactions within the environment itself were proposed in accordance with best practice. To provide validation of these mechanisms and the housing itself another round of face to face testing with subscribers was necessary. A full end to end medium fidelity prototype was built and a script devised in accordance with this to maintain that we were effectively validating our research goals. The sessions went very well and gave us clear approval of the mechanisms and housing with a small array of next steps for us to improve on.

06 - Documentation & hand over


Once all of the improvements raised by testing were designed and inputted, it was then necessary that all of these designs were communicated with engineers. My design can only be as good as my communication skills to convey the ideas to the people who can actually build it. Documentation and clear explanation/walk throughs of the design are vital to maintaining an effective development process. Being on hand throughout development is also useful to allow open convocation between design and development.

07 - Summary

My Account was very much a practice of my testing and ideation skills. We found ourselves often going through multiple iterations to maintain that the environment was a functional for users as possible. Offering a great amount of detail and focus to the brief was vital to being able to maintain focus throughout the design process.

Thank you for following me through the design process of Mogel. Please do get in touch if you have any questions about this piece of work, or would like to see anything on show here in greater detail.