Economist Intelligence Unit

User research

Introduction

The ‘problem’, research questions, project objectives, business goals, hypothesis, deliverables, and the team. 

Create a content marketing app for mobile that reflects the EIU business, engages users, and new prospects through its content. 

~and~

Find new ways to increase engagement with the EIU through sign-ups, views, downloads, and sharing.

User-centered: users want a way to access free EIU content on the go but the current website is not very user-friendly or scalable for mobile.  

Brand-centered: the “Insights” section of the EIU website wants to improve content delivery and generate more user engagement ‘outside of the office’.

Grow awareness of The EIU’s products and services. Improve the signposting of other EIU properties (ECN and EIU Store). Improve subscriber journey and messaging.

We believe that in designing an app for users of the EIU, we will achieve an improved user experience with increased traffic to current EIU products and services. We will confirm this with summative research later in the project. 

Competitive/comparative analysis, user research and personas, journey maps, user flows, site maps, sketches, wireframes, and clickable prototype.


Conducted: Interviews, competitive/comparative analysis, usability testing, design sprints, empathy jams. Design tools used: Miro, Meistertask, Otter.ai, Adobe XD, Figma, Google Suite, paper, and pen.

Research: Adam Inglis
Information Architecture: M.E. Muzio
Prototyper and Visual Designer: Nazia Roushan
Mentor at The EIU: Ian Roberts, Lead Product Designer
and Lead Experience Architect at The EIU. 
Capstone Class Instructor: Michael Suen.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is the world leader in global business intelligence. They are the research and analysis division of The Economist Group and the sister company to The Economist newspaper. The EIU specializes in providing forecasting and advisory services through research and analysis, such as monthly country reports, five-year country economic forecasts, country risk service reports, and industry reports.

Table of Contents

Exploration

 

Goal: Understand the problem and how to satisfy the user.
Method: Competitive analysis, user interviews, card sorting, persona building, journey mapping, design review, content analysis, and task analysis.

Research questions

How can we introduce new users to the EIU brand?
Research question
What are the current user’s needs?
Research question
What would keep users engaged with an EIU app?
Research question
How can we scale the EIU insights section into a mobile-first experience?
Research question
How can we create a clear path to conversion for EIU customers?
Research question

Design review

What can we learn from the current state of the EIU’s digital offering?

A design review showed a number of stylistic inconsistencies across the EIU’s other digital products. Some sections were duplicated or appeared in multiple places and the content was not designed to be viewed in mobile browsers.

A task analysis proved that navigation on the existing EIU website was extraordinarily challenging. There were lots of “ends of the journey”. Many of the EIU products and services difficult to find.

The new app should be stylistically consistent. Content should be more logically organized and discoverable. The process of downloading and viewing content has to be consistent. There has to be an easy way to access paid content and subscription services.

Taxonomy of content

I identified a variety of assets on the existing EIU website. They are outlines for  information architecture consideration. Some of the assets included videography, podcasts, photography, illustrations, interactive and animated elements, maps and geo-visualizations, information graphics, data visualizations, whitepaper documents, etc.

Traffic flow and bounce rate

According to the web traffic analysis website Alexa, visitors to https://www.eiu.com/n/ spend an average of 2.5 minutes browsing before exiting. The bounce rate is high—56.6%—and engagement is poor, with an average of only two page views per visit.

Visited just before: 
Visited right after:

40.5% Google.com
Economist.com
3.48% Wikipedia.org
2.22% YouTube.com

41.4% Google.co
2.91% Wikipedia.org
2.59% Economist.com

Source: previous 60 days from 9 November 2019 (Alexa 2019).

EIU social reach 

360.7K fans on Facebook
101K followers on Twitter
83k followers on Linkedin
6.5k followers on YouTube

FacebookTwitterLinkedInYouTube15.1%18.3%65.4%
(November 2019)

Competitive analysis

Know thy product (and thy competitor)

Brand position matrix

Determining our brand position was not an easy task. It required both primary and secondary research. This matrix helped us think about differentiating The EIU product from its competitors.

 

The following consultancy firms were identified as offering similar services:

Oxford Economics  — an economics consultancy that provides economic advice and forecasts to organizations. 

McKinsey & Company — an American worldwide management consulting firm that has published the McKinsey Quarterly since 1964, funds the McKinsey Global Institute research organization, publishes reports on management topics, and has authored influential books on management. They also publish content to their native iOS and Android offering, McKinsey Insights.

Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR)  —  one of the UK’s leading economics consultancies. They supply independent economic forecasting and analysis to hundreds of private firms and public organizations. 

Capital Economics  —  provides macroeconomic, financial market, and sectoral analysis. They have a team of over 60 economists based in five offices around the world and offers a range of subscription and consultancy services.

Forrester  —  an American market research company that provides its clients and the public with advice on existing and potential impacts of technology.

Source: “The Economist Intelligence Unit Competitors, Revenue and Employees – Owler Company Profile” n.d.

Similar apps

The following apps were identified as offering similar services:

McKinsey Insights

McKinsey Insights on iOS by McKinsey & Company. Users say: “[the] app is simple—and content is very rich and relevant. [The] app allows for deep customization [of] your interests… Although McKinsey makes you register, they DO NOT bother you with endless requests and spam” (“‎McKinsey Insights” n.d.).

Forrester Forrester Insights on iOS by Forrester. Personalize the home screen to see the latest reports on the topics you care about. Search research to find relevant content when and where you need it. Watch on-demand webinars on the go. Listen to podcasts examining market dynamics and hot topics. Follow analyst blogs for quick insight on the latest market developments. Ability to receive notifications. Ability to share research with colleagues. Ability to save reports and graphics.

PWC 365PwC 365 on iOS by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Personalized based on interests. Browse by region. Connect directly with authors. Users say: “I keep it on my home screen, so I can see the alerts for new material. Gives me useful up to the minute insights that I can easily share with my network.”

Strategic IQ Strategic IQ on iOS by World Economic Forum. Over 120 topic areas, including industries, regional, and global issues. Browse articles, videos, and reports drawn from over 250 different sources for each topic. View data visualizations of relevant trends.

UNUNdata on iOS by United Nations. Features: Key statistical indicators; general information, economic indicators, social indicators; environmental and infrastructure indicators for 30 geographical regions and over 200 countries and areas of the world. Users say: ”This is a great app with good information; the only sort of bad thing about it is that its design is a bit outdated but overall the app is great.”

Source: Alexa web traffic dataFoller.me – Twitter analytics; and the Apple – App Store

Audience crossover

The following websites have the most audience overlap and may offer insight into our users’ unique interests and search habits.

International Monetary Fund – an organization of 189 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth; and reduce poverty around the world (“About the IMF” n.d.).

Freedom House – an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world. Freedom House “analyzes the challenges to freedom, advocates for greater political rights and civil liberties, and supports frontline activists to defend human rights and promote democratic change” (“About Freedom House” n.d.).

Eurasia Group – a political risk research and consulting firm that provides the marketplace with a comprehensive and integrated set of political risk solutions.

BMI Research (now Fitch Solutions) – a research firm that provides macroeconomic, industry, and financial market analysis, covering 24 industries and 200 global markets. 

World Economic Forum – an NGO, founded in 1971, with a membership of 1,000 multinational corporations, on whose behalf it lobbies, primarily for deregulation. The WEF “engages the foremost political, business, cultural, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas” (“Our Mission” n.d.).

Oxford Analytica – an independent geopolitical analysis and advisory firm,  drawing on a worldwide network of experts to advise clients on strategies, operations, and policies, and investments.

World Bank – an international financial institution that provides loans and grants to the governments of poorer countries for the purpose of pursuing capital projects. It comprises two institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Association.

Factiva –  a business information and research tool owned by Dow Jones & Company, trusted publishers of business news and financial information in a variety of media. Factiva aggregates content from both licensed and free sources and provides organizations with search, alerting, dissemination, and other information management capabilities.

ProQuest – A content archive of 90,000 authoritative sources, and six billion digital pages over six centuries. Including three centuries of global, national, regional, and specialty newspapers; more than 450,000 ebooks; rich aggregated collections of the world’s most important scholarly journals and periodicals; and unique vaults of digitized historical collections from great libraries and museums (“About – Who We Are” n.d.).

User interviews

Five initial exploratory interviews

At this stage of our project, we are about to get started on a prototype. But before that, we still wanted to know more about who our users were, what their preferences were, what a typical day looked like for them, and what would delight them in a potential app. 

The EIU could not supply real users, so proxy users stood in instead. Our proxy users were internal EIU staff with customer knowledge similar to end-users. Some had previously been or were currently using the premium-tier subscription product. Using proxies was not without its pitfalls. Dig deeper below. 

We learned that proxy users were often viewing the end-users through their own lens. They were passionate and opinionated about who and what the EIU is/does — but they also had preconceptions about who “the users” were. At times they would forget to answer from the point of view of the type of user we were asking them to imagine themselves to be.

“Our users don’t use Twitter!”, one proxy remarked during an interview—forgetting they were being asked to answer from the point of view of a journalist, for whom Twitter would in-fact be an integral tool for newsgathering,  source-finding, and breaking news.

This underscored some of the problems user researchers face when using proxies as stand-ins for the real thing. The proxy was unable to fully consider the experience of a prescribed type of user simply because they were not that user. They had no experience ever being them.

Paradoxically, their expert (but subjective) notion of who the user was — was actually obstructing them from imagining a reality different from their own preconceived idea of who the user was

With all of that being said the interviewees did know the EIU products intimately. Much insight was still gleaned from these initial exploratory interviews as a consequence. 

Card sorting thematic analysis

A thematic analysis of our initial interviews revealed many common threads. The data extracted were codified, quantified, and analyzed through the use of affinity maps, which were created from the data I extrapolated from interview transcriptions.

I used Miro to create these instead of actual post-it notes — because I wanted to be able to duplicate, move around, and refer back to at different points. I also wanted a way to export my data to a spreadsheet for record-keeping. Below are some example screenshots of what this process looked like. Each cluster in the group represents one interview. Zoomed in, you can see some of the thematic variables that began to emerge. 

Results

Company directors
Company directors
Executives
Executives
Researchers
Researchers
Economists
Economists
Product managers
Product managers
Investors in projects
Investors in projects
Data scientists
Data scientists
Librarians
Librarians
Journalists
Journalists
Editors
Editors
Product developers
Product developers
Government
Government employees

Company directors

Updates on special reports

Executives

Find out about EIU events, seminars, and webinars

Researchers

Chatbot or customer service representative

Economists

Personalize alerts and notifications for the weekend or when traveling

Product managers

Bookmarking tool

Investors in projects

Search tool

Data scientists

Exchange rates

Librarians

Top-level data to compare and benchmark

Journalists

Filter by city level

Editors

Filter by industry/s

Product developers

Filter by country

Government

Information graphics

Government

Downloadable content for offline use

Government

Custom news feeds

Global
Global
Impartial
Impartial
Scholarly
Scholarly
Credible
Credible
Authoritative
Authoritative
Serious
Serious
New York Times
New York Times
Economist Espresso
Economist Espresso
Economist
Economist
Google News
Google News
Twitter
Twitter
BBC
BBC
CNN
CNN

Persona beginnings

Initial persona sketches

I began building some initial persona sketches using Miro. Sketching them up with a whiteboarding design tool was useful because it allowed us to iterate quickly and work remotely. I was able to bring these personas to our stakeholder meeting with The EIU’s marketing team and make sure they met our business objectives too.

Finalized personas

 

Once everything had been finalized and everyone involved was on the same page, I finalized our personas. We ended up with four distinct users in the end. Cycle through and find out more about each of them using the tabs below. 

New Prospect

Researcher at a university

This user has buying power, but they are looking for the right product. They have never purchased from the EIU before — but they are brand aware. They perceive the EIU to be credible.

Goals

Needs to get updates on special reports. Would like to find out about EIU events/seminars, and discover webinars.

Pain Points

Can’t stand it when search and navigation are not intuitive. Making an inquiry should not be difficult or time-consuming either.

 

Switcher

An executive at a fast-moving consumer goods company

Is close to a buying decision and has buying power. Has a lapsed EIU subscription. Planning store rollouts in Chinese cities.

Goals

Needs to get information, insights, opinions, and analysis to inform decision making. Trying to find the right product.

Pain Points

“I don’t really like reading on a smartphone. I find it difficult to do research or get more in-depth information on a smartphone.”

Influencer

Journalist or editor

This user is a horizon scanner. They are not responsible for purchasing but can influence the buyer in their organization. Often looking for one thing, but finds another. Knows all about the EIU and many of its products and services. Presents ideas to other people for a living. Perceives the EIU to be authoritative.

Goals

Needs to write or commission a feature analysis piece. Needs to borrow authority from EIU. Has to find something to tweet about. Find out about what the EIU is doing.

Pain Points

“I struggle to find the report I need.” “Missing information related to the category I need.” “Having to do my own calculations.”

Future Generation EIU Subscriber

Young professional and digital native

Not yet ready to buy. Often presents ideas to other people for a living. Doesn’t know much about other products and services. Perceives the EIU to be scholarly.

Goals

Wants to keep up with what’s going on. Needs to find something to tweet about. Is looking for a new podcast to listen to on the way to work.

Pain Points

Ambiguity around pricing or the business model. Dead ends, or “end of journey” points in digital products.

 

Prototype

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