Case study: UX as a Service
- Design Process, IA, IxD, Visual Design - desktop + online products -
Counterpoint Systems, 2013-2014
CHALLENGES
The challenge was to demonstrate and communicate the values of User eXperience Design and how it can improve the business and contribute to modernize the processes, and then accompany Product Owners and managers to use our services without imposing drastic changes in a context where production process was very linear, little flexible, based on heavy documentation (mostly describing how the system works) and unfortunately lack of time, insufficient testing and inconsistency in interaction mechanims and UI lead to usability issues, despite the excellent and compelling back-end and calculation performances.
 
 
MY ROLE
I joined Counterpoint Systems as first UX designer of the company. My work consisted in firstly defining the Design methods and tools, how it would fit in existing workflows. Then working with Business Analysts and Product Owners to better design new features and improve existing products.
 
1. Defining UX
 
I started by observing the existing process(es), and listening to feedback and comments of lead projects and
developers who had been long working in the company.
From there, I drafted a typical UX design process from Research to Delivery, injecting methods from my previous
experience and from Lean UX and Agile theories. We discussed and refined the method collectively with my manager and the Head of Product Strategy; applying it and adjusting along the way with our current projects. I also prepared Tool Cards for each UX technique as a resource.
2. Introducing UX
 
Shortly after, we set up a series of presentations with the objective to introduce User Experience to the rest of the company, primarily Business Analysts, Client Services Managers and Product Owners. The agenda included a slideshow explaining what is UX, why User is at the centre of our work, showing examples of time-saving deliverables, and was followed by open discussion to collect feedback, feelings, think ahead on how we could work together.
At the end of each session, we distributed a summary sheet to attendees.
3. Case study: Quick fix, big win!
 
We intervened on a quotation tool interface.
The client had formulated feedback on the first implementations and the developers in India needed our input to improve the usability of the interface they designed.
We firstly tried to understand what was the purpose of the interface, how it was working, based on developers annotated wireframes and dialogue with Project Manager. There was usability issues in the product selection side, as well as in the table display and items availability indicators of the quote area.
The concept was to facilitate the User interactions (in that case call-centre operators) by minimizing mouse use, and allowing a maximum of relevant info to be visible on screen.
Based on this assessment, I sketched, wireframed, refined the Designs with my Manager and Project Manager then specced new interactions with keyboard input, improving display with added navigation indicators,and colour coding, and reordered table columns to show all options without scrolling horizontally.
4. Case study: UX to change perceptions or the Aesthetic-Usability Effect
 
Here is a two-part Design intervention on an existing product:
We started with the UI skin overhaul to modernize the Look & Feel of the software. After assessing the existing interface, identifying the various components, I have drafted a new style based on Flat Design, using thin icons and fonts and the colour range of the product identity to replace the unsexy and outdated greys, browns and dark greens of the current screens.
I worked closely with developers and product Gurus to understand the UI framework, and propose designs that could realistically and easily be implemented, adjusting the proposed designs along the way.
Besides, this overhaul was an opportunity to intrude few simple changes in interaction mechanisms, consistency, recognition to improve the overall usability: add a title bar on each list-type screen so the User recognize easily what she is looking at, add a Search button and tooltips to guide the User in her tasks, revisit the Navigation Menu to bring to the front most used links.
OUTCOME
This experience has consolidated my skills as a Designer, not only to conceive new products from scratch, but also to improve existing interfaces stepping in with awareness and in a measured way, taking into account actual version and cost/time constraints. What appear like small changes can make a big usability improvement.
Designers intrinsically approach problems with the User at the heart of their thinking.
Most importantly, this gave me the opportunity to research and document my knowledge, codify methods and processes to work collectively, put it into practice and refine it, preach the techniques to non-designers contributors.
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