Unity Learn is the official learning platform for the Unity game engine. The platform offers a variety of free, long-term courses called Pathways that have projects, tutorials and mini-courses, while also allowing users to track their own progress and attend live-learning sessions led by industry specialists.
Our client defined their main goal to be long-engagement through one of the many Pathways programs. Through these programs, they would be able to gain expertise in a variety of topics. In addition, users should be able to easily find what they're looking for (courses, tutorials, live-learning), track their progress, and discover a new topic to learn.
The value proposition of this project is to help users develop employable Unity skills with a strong understanding of Unity's capabilities, and the opportunity to develop specialized skills as needed. Since it's the first stop to finding tutorials on Unity, the platform should feel welcoming to both novice and experienced users.
Based on the identified study goals, our team created a 3-week long study comprised of user testing, analysis, and recommendations to Unity.
With the goals and value proposition from our client in mind, we developed three main study goals:
As the call-to-action for user engagement is to navigate and engage in a Pathway, we want to understand how users view the existing site navigation and how they use information from the site to navigate the various learning opportunities.
With a large emphasis on users' professional development, we want to explore how users evaluate their development and how they use the platform's progress tracking features.
Since Pathways caters to both novice and returning/experienced users of Unity, we want to explore their respective needs and how they interact with the platform at the different states of their learning journey.
From our client's identified target audience, we found that there were 3 potential study groups:
To narrow down our scope, we decided to work with the senior students/early-career professionals for our study.
Each interview/session was completed in three parts, with one participant and at least one of our researchers over an hour-long Zoom video call.
We discussed and recorded the participant's Unity experience level, how they use Unity, and other background questions to understand how they could affect results.
Participants told to think-aloud while completing pre-designated tasks on various Unity Learn webpages, including onboarding and Pathways offerings. We heavily focused on qualitative feedback.
We encouraged participants' to evaluate their overall experience on the site navigation and learning experience through a series of questions.
Our initial pilot study took a lot longer than expected which could contribute to fatigue and disinterest from the participants. As a result, we removed some tasks and questions such as our post-test Likert Scale questionnaire, which provided information less relevant to our study goals.
Due to the limited length of our study period, the long-term effects of using Unity Learn is difficult to study. Participants were also unable to complete more than one or two courses during our limited session time. Thus, we narrowed the scope of our study to focus primarily on site navigation, content organization, and general information.
We analyzed our findings with an affinity diagram created in Miro, which detailed each of the answers or experiences each participant had on the website into sticky notes. Based on this data, we organized the affinity diagram into two main categories: platform features (content, information, offerings) and interface design (site navigation, content organization). With the significant data collected, they were further split into subcategories: features, language, excessive/missing information, site navigation, content organization, etc.
Participants provided positive feedback on the Pathways programs, which were organized in a hierarchical fashion with projects, missions, steps, and simple navigation. They also liked being able to track their personal development progress, and the gamification of earning XP (experience points) for completing lessons.
Unity-specific language made navigation difficult for novice users, as essential terms to the platform regarding the gamified features, expertise level, and other industry jargon left the user to interpret their meanings on their own. This revealed itself more when participants used complex filters to look for courses under the 'Browse' area, as well as while trying to understand the XP system. There was also media content throughout the site that was not directly relevant to the content it was paired with.
We found that the site architecture on the homepage and My Learning pages were confusing for users due to them having overlapping content and features. For some pages, there were mismatched expectations when users interacted with buttons and menus. For example, some buttons led users to believe they would find more information on a specific feature, but instead lead to a generic web page on finding new tutorials.
Participants found a hierarchical problem on the homepage where information blocks were organized in an unnatural way; user-catered recommendations were mixed with non-catered sections such as feature banners and newest tutorials being placed alongside personal learning progress. On the browse page, users found that if they used too many filters and wished to reset/remove the filters, there was no way to do so. In the Live Learning section, there was a consensus amongst participants that there were too many live offerings with similar visual design and language with no sense of hierarchy. This made it hard to differentiate whether these were different lessons within a series of lectures, or multiple sessions for the same lesson.
Unity Learn's content utilizes industry and platform-specific lingo, which can be daunting to newer users. They can be provided with additional help through easier language and/or contextual support. The use of pop-ups, tooltips, and reminder descriptions throughout the platform can allow users to gain a better understanding of the language used, and feel more inclined to stay on the platform.
With the confusion in overlapping or similarly styled features between the personal homepage and My Learning pages, we propose a reorganization of information architecture for the two pages. In our new site architecture, we recommend keeping less catered offerings strictly on the homepage, with minimal personal progress statistics at the top of the page with a large call-to-action to visit the learning dashboard, while focusing on new featured courses, popular offerings, then recommendations/followed categories. The My Learning page is changed to focus solely on progress and understanding the skills users have developed, alongside tooltip definitions that help the user navigate what each part of their personal progress tracker means. Other recommendations given to our client include organizing the Browse/Search Results pages' filters to be more intuitive and allowing for a 'reset all filters' option, and creating more visual hierarchy in the Live Learning page to separate sessions and series-based courses into easily-identifiable groups.
Although we faced obstacles such as changing clients several weeks into the project, struggling to find suitable candidates, and working against a time due to an upcoming revamp to the website that was set to be released a few weeks after our case study, working with Unity was a great experience. The team behind developing and maintaining Unity Learn was incredibly supportive throughout our entire project from start to finish, and were even able to take our study outcomes into consideration during their recent iterations of their platform.