Redesign My Printer Center

Redesign the web-based cloud printing service of University of Texas Libraries, to create intuitive, straightforward and efficient user experience.

MyPrintCenter is a web-based printing system used by University of Texas at Austin (UT) Libraries, provided and supported by Pharos, a third-party cloud storage and printing management company. The system is available for all UT students, faculty, and staff, with UT students making up the majority of users. With the system, users are able to upload documents directly from their personal devices onto a cloud platform and temporarily store them. This temporary cloud storage serves as a printing queue, and, with a fee, users are able to access their documents to print them wherever printing is possible available on UT campus. We aim to redesign the interface to provide a more streamlined and intuitive user experience, which would increase efficiency and convenience for users who need to complete printing jobs.
My Role
UX Designer
Janani Ravikumar
Ayu Larasati
Paper & pen
Figma, Illustrator
2 months
Sep 2019- Nov 2019


What is your expectations on printers?

Probably nothing much. Just get your work done and print out exactly what you expected so.

Yet the real situations could go against your wishes even though you executed a series of right commands. On occasions where users needed printed copies to rush towards meetings or classes, or in cases where users already had a struggling day wrestling with complicated problems, a "bugged" printer could be the last straw that broke camel's back.

This problem could be further perplexed by an installed cloud printing system which allows a community to share printers with paying for the printing services. While the system is simply supposed to allow you to print your paper, it turns out to become a powerful tool for wasting away your time.

Meanwhile, with rapid growth, cloud IT infrastructure will grow at a five-year annual growth rate of 10.9% to reach $99.9 billion in value by 2023. Designing a user-friendly cloud printing service could shed into light how a cloud based system could tap into the huge market potentials.

Currently, UT deploys a web-based printing service that allows users to upload their documents onto a cloud storage management system, and utilize one of the many printers provided by UT Libraries throughout campus. We decided to evaluate the current user interface, collected the pain points from users and redesign the system into a more intuitive and efficient one.

How might we improve users' printing experience with using the cloud-based printing system, My Printer Center?

Design Process
Problem Discovery
Understanding the situation
Step 1: Review the current interface

To better understand the issue with the current system, we started with a heuristic evaluation of the interface used now. The printing system by Pharos includes 4 main activity areas: user information, file uploading and management (mixed with print preview and cost estimation), fund management and display, setting up print properties.

heuristic issues on the current interface

Through NN's heuristic evaluation, we found the biggest usability problems with the current interface are visibility of system status, error recognition and prevention, and inadequate indication for user control and freedom.

Step 2: Work role analysis

To further understand the ecosystem of My Printer Center, we analyzed the work roles and user groups to delve into the interaction between user groups and machine roles.

Step 3: Studying users

#1. Onsite Observation

We visited several locations providing UT Library printing service and observe on-site how users interacted with My Printer Center (MPC) to complete their tasks. Like every printing station, post-it notes are everywhere because, obviously, there are needs for reminding users of extra information. We also invited a volunteer who has never used MPC before to think out loud while trying to print her reading assignments using My Printer Center, and filmed the process of her interaction with the system upon consent for analysis. As a new user, it took her over 10 minutes to complete a single printing task.

#2. Contextual interview

The user group of My Printer Center are mainly UT students, covering a cohort of students in different years of studying at UT, coming from diversified cultural backgrounds with various levels of experience in interacting with technologies. Our contextual interview was targeted at UT students in different cultural, academic, and technology usage experiences, to study their goals, usage scenarios & interaction process. We carried 6 in-depth interview with students with a variety of backgrounds covering US and international nationalities, fresh and senior students and pursuing different majors. Based on our notes, we used affinity diagram to organize users' pain points and needs.

Step 4: Visualize findings & brainstorm opportunities

To visualize the pain points and opportunities based on the study, I drew a user journey map to realign the breakdown moments in different phases and highlight potential opportunities from these pain points.

User persona

Based on analysis above, there are various groups of users. As students' experience interacting with the system influences whether this system will be used in UT in a more directly and students form the biggest user group, we focused on how to improve their experience.

To further clarify the pain points from users, I designed and used personas to specify the goals, needs and frustrating points with the current cloud printing system from different sub-groups of users.

Key takeaways

In line with onsite observation and contextual analysis, the problems are gradually mapped out:

1. The different mental models of printing stamped users' learning experience of using My Printer Center.

One of users' major pain points came from their failure to understand how to use My Printer Center. The reason lies in that the cloud printing system that Pharos used in UT Library is different from the usual printing experience of users. To enable users have freedom to print wherever they like in campus, MPC only offers file storage. Users need to find out computers with printers to finally execute the printing order.

2. The existing ways of uploading files and setting up printing properties failed to meet users' ultimate goal -- completing printing jobs in an efficient and effortless way.

When users are attempting to complete their printing tasks, they want this to be a rapid, efficient and error-prevented process. The current system only focuses on completing the printing task without taking users' overall needs into consideration. In a similar way, the payment method caused confusion among users who have to turn to librarians for knowing printing prices and ways to get charged.

3. Users have a difficult experience in finding their printed materials, even though they understand the printing mechanism.

Printing is never the point for users to take the action. Their goal is to get a printed copy for handing in homework or finding a job. The current system overlooked the essential needs in this ecosystem but simply focused on getting the storage system into function.

4. Printing itself could lead to bad experience because the mechanism within machines is invisible to users. Opportunity for MPC to compete out of competitors.

Even without My Printer Center, users also had poor experience in interacting with printers (actually probably they hope they would never need to "interact"), such as forgetting their printed materials as Don Norman gave an example in his book, or the printed results totally betrayed the electronic files. It creates opportunities for My Printer Center to develop new features over competitors and win its market niche by improving user experience in using it.

Reframe the problem

How might we improve the efficiency of printing and collecting materials for the student user group with different level of tech-savviness and diversified printing needs?


Storyboarding creates an intuitive and rapid way to envision scenarios that users have in interacting with the products. It's also a starting point for our team to brainstorm solutions and envision what a best user experience outcome would look like. We drew the storyboard based on segmented major pain points for user groups.

Pain point #1

"I have no idea how to use the system. The instructions are too long and I don't have the patience to finish them all."

Provide users an interactive learning experience of using this system?

Pain point #2

"When I went to a new library at UT, I wasted a lot of time finding the printers and specially distinguish those for color copies."

Increase users' control of printer status by showing them the locations and status of printers?

Pain point #3

"I hope there is a way allowing me to not have to set up printing properties again and again."

For frequent/expert users allow them to have shortcut to functions they used most often. The NN's "flexibility and efficiency of use" principle?

Pain point #4

"I don't understand why the documents I printed out are different from what I expected."

Provide users with more visibility into the expected print outcomes?

Diverge solutions

Our team starts to brainstorm directions and features that could address the pain points mentioned above. For each direction we highlighted the user group it targets at and think further about specified details.

Converge solutions

We evaluate decisions from dev efforts and impact and decide on next moves.

Solution: Provide users an interactive learning experience of using this system.

Design strategy:
For novice users provide a step-to-step guide showing them how to start their first printing job and next steps they need to take to fetch printed materials.

Increase users' control of printer status by showing them the locations and status of printers

Design strategy:
Include a map to display the location, status and functions of printers.

For frequent/expert users allow them to have shortcut to functions they used most often. The NN's "flexibility and efficiency of use" principle.

Design strategy:
Include functions to provide "customized" printing experience and allow users to get quickly access to their preferred setting.

Provide users with more visibility into the expected print outcomes.  

Design strategy:
Provide an intuitive way for users to visually preview and control printing setup properties.

Usability testing

8 interviewees to complete the usability testing for low-fidelity prototype. Overall the interviewees praised the simplicity of our prototype’s design. Meanwhile we also collected valuable opinions on how to further improve the design:

Summary of pain points revealed
1. Too Deep, Can't Find:
Some functions such as adding funds could only be found within the burger menu, while others were accessible at more than one location in the prototype.

2. Way Over Reminding about Product Limitations:
MPC could only store users files for 24 hours due to development capacity & we display it on every screen in the original design. Users expressed irritation and highlighted that the warning may not be important enough to warrant being displayed at the top of every screen.

3. Can I Skip Tutorial?
Some users accidentally picked "new user“ category but found to be guided through a long process of tutorial. They demonstrated behaviors of looking for "skip" buttons.

Final outcomes

Fresh login page with selection of old or new user
Old and new user have different goals in using My Printer Center. For new users a study tutorial will be added whilst for old users they will be directly led to dashboard.

Improving the freedom of uploading files and responses to improve system visibility
Based on contextual interview and heuristic evaluation of the original interface, the ways of uploading files are quite rigid and unresponsive for users to understand the progress.

Providing users information they didn't know
Clarify different ways of payment and let users know what to do next to complete their printing.

Improve preview of printing effects
Users complained about mistakenly printed materials. To enable the preview of printing effects help users to make less mistakes and get to know printing problems ahead.

Main Dashboard Interface
List out all the functions out there for users to find the functions they needed.

Different forms of displaying files enable users to have an intuitive view of the files they're going to print.

Find Printers
Provide users with a more straightforward view with the available printers on campus through a two-tier map.

Enable users to find printers nearby quickly and understand the status of printers.

Think from the perspective of the overall ecosystem. Users goals are the key.
For users, printers are like black boxes. They hope printers just print as they wished, but don't understand why they failed. The original system is organized enough but not user-friendly because it overlooked the essential needs from users, get a printed copy. Especially, cloud printing set-up for My Printer Center is different from the original mental model of users. In this case, it needs to consider the ultimate goal of users and design from there.

Features should be included based on user study and business considerations.
There are several features from competitors, such as printing statistics or environmental actions encouragement. Yet based on user studies, they are not the fundamental needs from users. Developing these features could be costly while wasting.

Usability testing and heuristic evaluation are strong tools to unearth problems for iteration.
Don't rely on the first edition. Design is a rapid process. The earlier problems are found the closer it is to success. It is important to kind of letting go of your ego and focusing on revealing loopholes in your design with humility.
INteractive Prototype

Play with the Figma prototype!

to top
back to top button icon