Women are more risk-averse when it comes to participating in negotiation events and research shows women actually negotiate less often than men across a variety of situations. This tendency perpetuates inequality such as the disparities in leadership and wage gap between men and women. We conducted qualitative research on women’s experiences, feelings, and knowledge of negotiation and found that women regard negotiation skills as valuable and pertinent to a wide variety of contexts but don’t know how to use them. Something is missing. How can we use HCI strategies to close the knowledge and confidence gap women experience when negotiating?
As 1 of the 2 UX leads, I taught and mentored university students in user-research methodologies (i.e. usability testing, speed-dating protocols, interview protocol creation, competitor analysis processes, affinity diagramming, etc.). I also taught design strategies such as prototyping in Figma, rapid sketching exercises, feedback and critiquing techniques, and others. I made informed design decisions regarding the project’s front-end components and continued to use my skills gained in my Master’s program to shape the project goals and outcome.
I worked alongside another graduate student to manage the project direction and progress. I recruited and communicated with participants, outlined and directed the workload for team members, reported progress to faculty advisors and overseers.
Target Users: Female students ages 18 and older.
In our first round of interviews, I conducted 4 out of 15 interviews with female students to get a better understanding of their feelings towards and experiences with negotiating. I co-wrote our interview script, which encouraged storytelling and guided conversation with participants.
We conducted background research by reading academic articles, conducting a competitive analysis with other digital negotiation tools, and completed a heuristic evaluation of the CoEx lab's current negotiation learning platform– the PROGRESS webpage. The Program for Research and Outreach on Gender Equity in Society (PROGRESS) was established by Dr. Linda C. Babcock in 2006 to empower women and girls through the art of negotiation. The website provides educational modules to help women and girls learn about negotiation and practice their skills.
Negotiation learning tools do exist today, however, a tool that optimizes opportunities for learning and practical implementation can be challenging to find, as there are little to no tools focused on equipping women with negotiation skills. A competitive analysis of negotiation learning tools suggests there is a lot of room for opportunity when it comes to building a dynamic tool that effectively teaches women how to negotiate. Most of the learning tools that exist today require paid subscriptions to access core content, use out-dated and unrealistic scenarios that are difficult for users to relate to or apply, or for private use by various companies and academic groups. Restrictions and limitations such as these further contribute to the perpetuation of disparities present in negotiation success between men and women. Merely understanding the problem is not sufficient for counteracting societal patterns.
“I feel like I'm not worth whatever price I would think for myself, in terms of salary.”
We combined all of our research and observed where our target users’ problems existed. We analyzed our insights by way of affinity diagramming — which is a method to help gather large amounts of data and organize them into groups or themes based on their relationships.
To start our design stage, I facilitated and guided team members through a Crazy 8s rapid sketching activity in order to brainstorm solution ideas. The goal is to push oneself creatively and generate a wide range of unique solutions. Each team member sketched 8 distinct ideas in 8 minutes. Ideas ranged from live negotiation competitions to interactive negotiation games. We then transformed these solutions into storyboards. These storyboards portrayed different scenarios in which women could further develop their negotiation skills.
We formulated HMW statements from our Crazy 8s concepts in order to narrow down our design scope:
Using the Speed Dating method, we gathered participants’ reactions to each storyboard scenario. We discovered which speed dating concepts were universally accepted and which ones were not so popular.
Detailed lessons that provide learning material in a sequential order, guiding users through the content and assessments.
Audio recordings that provide detailed tips and tricks about how to negotiate.
A brief test of the information that was provided to the user in the modules.
A database showcasing external resources about negotiation, such as articles and podcasts.
Our team believed that these 4 features could best be implemented by way of a mobile application, as people are constantly on the move and need resources that are fast and portable. Additionally, we believe that a mobile app will have a larger reach than a web-based solution.
I used Figma to design various screens and key features of our prototype mostly being the Learning Modules and Quiz screens.
We returned to our users for feedback. To test the efficacy and intuitiveness of our mobile toolkit, we relied on users’ Think-Alouds to understand how our design concepts were received.
Think-Alouds are usability sessions where users are given a few tasks to complete, and are asked to think aloud, as a means to navigate an interactive prototype. From this, we were able to gather insights on the usability of the negotiation toolkit.
Our first few iterations included learning modules that were reading-based. Users were to read the lesson content and take a short quiz at the end of each module. My experience in education (teaching) and Cognitive Science enhanced our design by making the reading-based lessons more interactive and engaging. After receiving feedback that the lessons were text-heavy and not conducive for on-the-go learning, I began to add questions and other interactive learning activities within the lessons.
Originally, our team thought it conventional to have a knowledge test at the end of each learning module. I designed the quizzes to be short with just up to 5 questions at most. I implemented user feedback to make the answer input interactions simple and clear: a user would tap their intended answer and confirm it before submitting it for review. Their answer (if incorrect) would be highlighted in red, and the correct answer, in green.
The design iterations for the quizzes came to a halt after our decision to integrate quiz-like questions and interactions within the learning modules.
The audio lessons provided users with a multimodal way for learning negotiation content and gaining the necessary conversation skills. Audio lessons were designed to mimic negotiation exchanges between two people, while users act as flies on the wall and learn from generated first-hand experiences.
Insight from Usability Testing: While users felt the audio lessons were a unique and innovative platform, they preferred if more common design patterns were used to implement this feature. We wanted users to be able to immediately understand how audio lessons worked and implemented familiar design specs such as a transcript icon near the play-time bar, a 15-sec rewind and fast-forward function, and a speed adjuster.
The Explore Page provides users with reliable, external resources in article, video, and podcast format.
“I don't feel like I would use this daily... I would probably [complete modules] in one or two sittings, or as quickly as I can.”