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Breaking Down Barriers for Women to Participate in the Growing Tech Sector

Sydney Harder, IncluCity Calgary

Jan 12, 2023

Learnings from our recent test with Chic Geek


In Fall 2022, IncluCity worked with the Chic Geek team to conduct usability testing on their Career Pathing service. In this piece we share some of our key learnings from this test.

Why Usability Testing Matters

Chic Geek was interested in gaining more insight into the needs of potential Path Finders from diverse groups. They engaged IncluCity to help uncover areas where they could improve the sign-up process for individuals from under-represented populations.

Though focused on being inclusive in their overall approach, Chic Geek wanted to find more diversity in their end-user profile, including women with language barriers, disabilities, neurodiversity, and those from the LGBTQ+ community.

Testing Chic Geeks Website

A team of eight IncluCity volunteers put their user experience skills to work and designed a usability test for Chic Geeks online intake form. Tests were conducted online and in public spaces on evenings and weekends to allow for barrier-free participation. A facilitator guided each tester through the process and encouraged them to share their thoughts while they interacted with the intake form. A notetaker/observer was also present to observe the test.

IncluCity held 12 half-hour-long testing sessions with individuals in Calgary:

  • All testers use she/her/hers pronouns

  • Ages range from 20 to 44

  • 75% of testers are entry/mid-level in professional career

  • Every tester comes from a different cultural background

  • 58% are newcomers to Canada

  • 25% are Indigenous or mixed Indigenous heritage

  • 2/12 testers are neurodivergent or have a disability

What We Learned

Overall, tester participants demonstrated interest in Chic Geek’s mission with good impressions of the organization. They responded well to the branding elements such as colour, image and illustrations. There were times when participants found the sign-up form time-consuming and unclear, but appreciated the multiple choice and the inclusive nature of the questions. They also sometimes found the language difficult to understand and answer but like the approachable tone.

IncluCity laid out recommendations and the level of time needed and the scale of impact for each, in a concise and insightful manner. The additional Heuristic testing was a huge bonus! - Kylie Woods, Executive Director and Founder

IncluCity’s Recommendations

Make the Form Easy to Use:

  • Minimize frustration with improved drop-downs and easy questions, and ask only necessary questions to start.

  • Use plain, non-culturally biased language to avoid confusion. For example, phrases that were intended to be friendly such as, “Time to find the peanut butter to your jelly” may not be easily understood by many individuals.

Build Trust with the End-User:

We identified several ways that forms can be designed to build trust with their audience:

  • Make payment information clear upfront: If someone is signing up for your service, they want to understand what the cost (if applicable) will be before they complete a lengthy sign-up process or form.

  • Consistent user interface and branding: Create a brand that people trust by always using a cohesive name, colour, font and logo.

  • Citations: When using statistics, establish credibility by quoting a reliable source so that they have the opportunity fact-check.

What is most amazing about going through this process with IncluCity is that we learned about how we can improve our Career Pathing service to be inclusive for a greater audience. We are an organization that exists to be inclusive and welcoming, yet there is still much we can learn every day to make positive changes. - Hanan Chebib, Program Specialist

Wrapping it Up

More detailed recommendations were provided with suggestions that had a high-impact and varying levels of effort to achieve. Chic Geek has plans to begin implementing changes in the new year to make the impact of their services even greater. These recommendations were all thanks to the feedback of our test participants and the hard work of our volunteer team.

Learn more about Chic Geek here.

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