ux research & design

SkillsMatch project. Duration: June 2018 – August 2020

hard skills

Soft skills

  • User research
  • Competitive analysis
  • Information architecture
  • Content strategy
  • Wireframing
  • Prototyping
  • Google forms
  • Data analysis
  • Empathy
  • Curiosity
  • Problem-solving
  • Diligence
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Initiative
  • Accountability
  • Critical thinking
  • Adaptability
Home 5 Portfolio 5 SkillsMatch 5 SkillsMatch UX Design & Research

my role in brief

I was the solo UXer in the project and my place was under the technical work package. My involvement was from concept to closure and my goal was to deliver a product that would be usable, useful and aesthetically pleasing. I combined the process of three areas;  User Experience (UX) research and design, Interaction Design (IxD) and User Interface (UI) design.

Those three dimensions were applied from the initial steps of the project to reinforce the user-centric process, allowing the technical team to frame the users’ needs vis-a-vis the technical solution and the project’s objectives.

You can find the live resources by following the below links:

Live websites
Desktop platform
Informational website

Prototypes in Invision
Desktop prototype
App prototype

the setup


I separate the team into 2 groups, the internal team which was us in eGovlab and the partners, all together we were the consortium.

Our team in eGovlab’s coordinated the whole project, led by an associate professor. The rest of the team was a project manager, 2 developers, and myself.

The partners consisted of researchers and professional experts on ICT skills, EU competencies framework, professional development, and a course provider.


In total we run 3 pilots which were planned to take place in the beginning of the 3 main development phases of the project: 1) design 2) prototype testing 3) final testing. The pilot participants were recruited by 3 unemployment agencies across Europe, The Irish National Organization of the Unemployed (INOU), CCOO Services in Spain, and Korta Vägen in Sweden.

I actively participated in the planning, coordination and running  the pilots.


Although it is recognised that soft skills are important in a career’s life-course there is a lack of proper contextualization by the labour market, educational institutions and professionals. How soft skills can be improved, learned and measured is an ongoing matter and by that time, finding related literature and existing online services that provided anything similar was hard. That reflected on the whole consortium which leads us to an explorative adventurous journey with both exciting discoveries but also setbacks. Having no solid ground to base our work on we had to rely on each other’s results.

But this is exactly why I love my work, this is what research is about, entering new paths that have not been explored much or sometimes if you are lucky enough, not at all.

my research goals

Exploration: Better understand the user’s needs/wants/motivations and frustrations. Understand their level of awareness around NC skills and their expectations from such a tool. 

Research questions:

  1. Are the users able to distinguish hard skills from soft skills?
  2. Do they know the definitions of soft skills?
  3. Will they be able to find their occupation title in the framework we are using?
  4. Creating an ePortfolio with the focus on soft skills will it be valuable to their career development?
  5. Will their results motivate them to select courses?

Evidence: Proof that key sections of the solution (e.g. select occupation, interconnected soft skills and results) are meeting the project’s objectives.


My first step was to conduct my own research to discover and understand our target audience, how the career market is addressing the NC skills and what our competition is. 

Secondly, I collected the work from the partners on their suggested NC skills framework and its mapping on the occupations framework.

In the meantime, with the technical team, we were brainstorming on the product development, system architecture, system design and requirements.

All of our findings along with mine were collected and discussed in the form of exercises in the first 2-day co-creation workshop.

SkillaMatch 1st co-creation workshop

First co-creation workshop. The consortium and stakeholders working together to design the system requirements.

The result of the workshop was a more defined system requirement list and the user journey. With those in hand, I was able to proceed in producing the initial wireframes which were presented to all of the team for feedback.

content strategy & information architecture

Defining the content strategy was one of the tasks that I started working on early in the project. Finetuning naturally occurred during the progress of development and was mainly influenced by the feedback I was receiving from the partners and from users.

Primarily my consideration was to provide a jargon-free text which would guide the user throughout the process.  To help me build the information architecture I created an information flow chart which from there I was able to have a grasp on how many basic screens the system would have and what kind of information each would need.

I created a language style guide which I shared with the partners and in their turn, they were able to add their scientific findings in a user-friendly language. The soft skills definitions and the research briefs explaining the assessment in the awareness section are a couple of examples. Instructions for each screen, explanation text, button labels were also carefully thought and implemented.

SkillsMatch - System flow

My information flow diagram

There were several times that my Dissemination role intertwined with all my other roles and the content strategy was one of them. The purpose of the information website was not only to promote the platform but also to support it. For that reason, there were several help guides that had to be created. I wrote 2 story-telling scenarios for the 2 explainer animated videos, the first is explaining what the platform is and the second how the user can benefit from the platform. Finally, I wrote the SkillsMatch Handbook, which is a how-to guide for the user, and also the FAQs taken from the most frequent questions collected during the pilot workshops.

data gathering

My main source of gathering data was the 3 pilots. The steps of my design process were aligned with the pilot workshops where I was adding the feedback and data analysis back in the design process loop. The majority of the pilot participants were the same in all 3 pilots which gave us a great advantage in the quality of the data.

Pilot 1 – Design Together

The participants were introduced for the first time to the soft skills and the concept of the project.

What I did

  • Survey design
  • Facilitation
  • Use journey
  • Personal interviews
  • Data gathering
  • Data anlysis

Pilot 2 – Testing in action

The participants were shown the working prototype of SkillsMatch.

What I did

  • Survey design
  • Templates for facilitators
  • Facilitation
  • Behaviour tracking
  • Personal interviews
  • Data gathering
  • Data analysis

Pilot 3 – Final test and feedback

The final usability test of the fully working prototype.

What I did

  • Survey design
  • Data gathering
  • Data analysis


Since there was no previous data I used an exploratory mixed methods approach to the analysis. From both the qualitative and the quantitative analyses I was able to understand better what needs the users prioritized, why they prioritized those selected needs, and what their expectations were from such a tool.

SkillsMatch pilot data analysis

On the left a graph from the qualitative analysis. On the right, a screenshot from the qualitative analysis comparing the interviews from pilot 1 and 2.


Taking the personal interviews from the 1st pilot I created personas cards for each of the interviewers. I structured the information in such a way so as to have a quick reference to the actual user story; their wants and needs, their motivations and frustrations. Moreover, it was easy to share them with the rest of the consortium which helped to have a common understanding of the matter.


SkillsMatch personas cards

A sample of some of the persona cards, created from the personal interviews after the 1st pilot.

Behavior tracking

To dig deeper into user behaviour I used a behavior tracking and analytics tool. I collected recordings of the users’ sessions, heatmaps on the important sections and I created events on funnel steps. With the data collected, I was able to observe closely, how the user navigated the system or a single page, their interactions with features, and the path they were following to reach a goal. The analysis from the surveys and from the behaviour tool revealed where improvements needed to be made in the UI and in the functionality.

SkillsMatch heatmap screenshot

Heatmap from the assessment initial page clearly showing the users’ preference on how to locate their occupation.

SkillsMatch - select occupation second option has been removed

The final design of the same screen once I applied the changes to meet the users’ preference on locating an occupation.

An example

In the above example is the initial assessment section page where the user needs to locate their occupation in order to see which soft skills are mapped. Initially, I was providing 2 ways for locating an occupation, either through an autocomplete field or through a hierarchy tree dropdown. My intention was to give complete freedom of choice to the user so I gave both options an equal visual weight. By observing the heatmaps it was made apparent that the majority of users were selecting the autocomplete option. From the survey data, I discovered that the users found the tree dropdown hard to use, it was hard for them to comprehend the ESCO occupations classification. That was also made apparent when watching the recordings for the selected action. My solution was to replace the dropdown field button with the text ‘Can’t find your occupation? Try the list‘, thus giving more weight to the autocomplete and less to the tree.



In the graph on the right I’m illustrating the average values of each of the 5 characteristics of Roger’s Diffusion of Innovation theory. The results are above average and therefore rewarding to the efforts we made which encourages us for a possible future continuation of the project.

Furthermore, the project got positive comments from the DG-Connect committee during the final review; we met our objectives and our contribution was considered significant.

SkillsMatch Diffusion of Innovation

Along with my colleagues  Dr. Thashmee Karunaratne and Myrsini Glinos we co-authored a research paper, where we applied this theory, and we have 2 more papers in the pipeline.

Petritsopoulou, M., Karunaratne, T., & Glinos, M. (2020). The learner’s perceptions of an integrated system for learning management of non-cognitive skills. Kidmore End: Academic Conferences International Limited. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezp.sub.su.se/10.34190/EEL.20.110


SkillsMatch project journey gave me the opportunity to revisit some of my already familiar techniques and master them. However, in such a journey and with all the roles I was assigned, I had the opportunity to discover new paths which certainly gained me more experience but also built on my curiosity to go deeper. Leading the UX has been a learning curve for me and I owe a lot to my colleagues Thashmee and Myrsini, which with their expertise the scientific dimension was applied.

I also cherish the experience of conducting the personal interviews in Sweden. I got the chance to meet warm and kind people which although they come from troubled countries with all sorts of personal stories, their optimism was high and I was amazed by their positive drive to push their education further and establish their careers in Sweden.

If I had a chance to do something again I would have gathered a small group from the pilot participants to have a session of rapid prototyping. I am curious to see what outcomes it would have produced and what other concepts could have been created.

“The contribution to the State of the Art in NC skills work is high in two main areas: the creation of the Style Guide and the development of the Platform with subsequent validation of functionality. This work has not been completed before and its contribution to the common goal across the European Community of tackling the complexity, and eventual resolution, of problems related to skills assessment, matching and learned improvement, for all Member States is significant.”

Final Review comments, DG Connect

Icons are great!!! Love 'em all! Honestly, in the flipping card game, I was just flipping cards without really reading through them.

Pilot participant's comment, 2nd Pilot Testing in Action

- Easy to navigate
- Happy to move from one section to another
- Clear and understandable
- ePortfolio meets my goals because I will be able to show my soft skills ranking, I can have peers to validate me and also recommendations
- I enjoyed the awareness section because I learned more but it was also fun to use.

Pilot participant's comment, Personal interview 2nd pilot

I appreciate your work on SkillsMatch it's an amazing and constructive system. I believe it could be the basic set when building your CV and it should be done before moving to LinkedIn.

Pilot participant's comment, Personal interview 2nd pilot