User Research & UX Design

OU Innovate App

OU Innovate is a an app created by the University of Oklahoma (OU) to test out innovative ways to facilitate students' lives on campus. The app contains features like a Virtual Student ID Card, so students don't need to carry their physical ones, and a Smart Parking Map, where students can see which parking lots on campus have available parking spots. The app also acts as a platform for OU to send out announcements, alerts, and promotions regarding on-campus happenings.

ou innovate app image

My Role

I was responsible for the user research and UI redesign of the iOS app. I lead the discovery phase, which consisted of user research and testing of the previous version, and I created all major deliverables and presented them to the client between August 2017 and February 2018. I worked alongside a Creative Director, who assisted in revamping the app's visual design. We worked closely with the Office of Strategic Initiatives (the OU team) to make sure we executed their vision during the redesign.

Project Overview


The OU team was unhappy with the way the first version of the app turned out. The design was outdated and unappealing, and the functionality was clunky - especially unfitting for an app that boasts innovative technology. For Phase 1, they asked us to focus on 4 main areas of the app to streamline and update: the home feed, the class schedule, and the parking map. For Phase 2, they looked to us for suggestions for future features that could add even more helpful innovation to students.


Along with giving the app a visual design makeover, we decided to conduct interviews and test the app with current OU students who use the app regularly. The students' feedback would help us find pain points in the current design, and advise us on which new features they would like the most.

The Approach

In order to establish a basis for the redesign, we wanted to find out how students use the existing app and what frustrations they experience. We flew out to Oklahoma to sit down with students on-site and conducted interviews, contextual inquiry, and several feature prioritizing exercises, including the $100 test and Kano model. These research methods helped us understand what students value the most in both the current OU Innovate app as well as the prospective version of the app that we would build. During the interview process, we also asked students what other apps they use and enjoy the most. This gave us a sense of which design conventions the students are most familiar with, and helped provide us with inspiration for the new visual design.

Oklahoma Stat old homepage Oklahoma Stat new homepage

Key Takeaways

Home Feed

All the students felt the emphasis of the home feed was definitely on parking, and they noted that students without cars won’t use that part of the home screen much. According to the 2 students that park on campus, the favorite parking lots section is a necessity. However, they felt it could be condensed to one card total instead of one card for each lot. The students appreciated being able to access rewards on the feed, but felt the designs for the rewards aren’t calling out to people enough. Three quarters of the students felt the alerts were very important, and confirmed that the home screen is the best spot for them. Armed with these insights, we reorganized and reallocated the real estate on the home screen to feature alerts first, then rewards, and favorite parking lots at the bottom. We also redesigned each card type to have a distinct look so they are easier to differentiate on first glance.

Class Schedule

Students liked the idea of having their class schedule viewable within the app. We redesigned this section to make it consistent with the card layout that is used on the home feed.

Parking Map

The lot trend graph was mostly understood, but some students didn’t find it intuitive to read and interpret. After this assumption was validated by the students, we applied usability best practices and used Google Maps "Popular Times" bar graph as a convention.

Future Features

On a separate OU app, there is a building map that students feel is not easy to use or intuitive, so potentially having an interactive campus map with directions is something the students were excited about. We pitched the OU teams several different options for how this could be executed, including an augmented reality version that directs users using the pass-through camera.

ou innovate app screens image

Final Design

The redesigned OU Innovate app has a more cutting edge visual design that reflects the innovative technology it promotes. The new home feed UI mimicks the feeds of social media apps like Instagram and Twitter, and includes a "sticky post" feature similar to Reddit. After we discovered that we needed to cater to two different user types - students with cars and students without cars - we reprioritized the parking section to appear towards the bottom of the feed. Rather than cluttering the home feed with separate cards for each favorite parking lot, students can now view a condensed view of their favorite lots on the home feed, and tap to see more details on a new screen. In the future, we will continue to collaborate with the OU team to design and build a campus map with interactive directions.