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Safety Check By FaCEBOOk

Designing a workplace app for office safety

UX / IX & UI Design
Workplace

Background and Problem Summary

ServiceRocket was one of the first companies and partners who implemented and used Workplace as a central workplace communication tool. It effectively increased our internal communication and collaboration, leveraging everyone’s familiarity with its adopted interface from Facebook. Having accustomed to its many features, we identified key missing enhancements that we needed, which many similar companies required which is an enhanced safety feature for emergencies. I stress the enhanced part because the Workplace, being an iteration of the Facebook platform can/will have its general emergency notification system (e.g. earthquake notification and acknowledgement of safety feature).

What we saw missing was a way to replicate this feature in a micro-level, or specifically, down to a company level. We needed a way for companies to be able to handle, report, notify, and catalog any type of emergencies -- a fire in one company location, someone hacking into the system, etc. -- and be able to respond to their employees.

Goals

Top-level success metric

  • Number of (free) installs on a given period of time
  • Number of reports raised and reports closed

Product and design level success metric

  • NPS rate of 8
  • Ease of completion rating 9
  • Error rate of 0

Product and design objectives

  • Design a control center for designated security administrators that enables them to raise, respond, and track office emergencies
  • Design a notification system that enables employees to raise, report, respond, and track office emergencies
  • Implement a notification system that is well integrated with the Workplace platform, making use of its technology

Design Process

Knowing what’s working and identifying what’s important

Analysis

Safety Check By FaCEBOOk

We first did our homework which is analyzing the current Global Emergency Response Feature of the Facebook platform. We needed to know how the system worked, how its users responded to emergencies, and how effective it is, including its limitations in the context of work environment requirements. We also looked into features that are available in Workplace and essentially created a grid of requirements and limitations that defined the domain of what we can play with.

In parallel, we initiated a concise user research on how effective the Facebook emergency feature is, as well as a survey of a set of security features on the app that we first drafted after our initial scoping session. With these two major tasks, we were able to identify four items:

  • The Facebook emergency feature and its implementation is a well-received, no-fuss feature that brings relief and awareness to its users
  • Workplace emergencies expands general emergencies. Many types of instances are added to what can be considered emergencies that can be specific to an industry e.g. a DDOS attack on a server, a car accident involving company’s delivery service
  • Workplace emergencies can be location based e.g. earthquake in our California office but it can also be departmental/functional
  • There are three phases in the scope of our safety app that are equally important: the React phase, the Acknowledgement phase, and the Tracking phase

Cataloging our Toolbox

Proof of concept | Wireframes, Sketch, Invision

Our main requirements moving forward was for users to be able to be notified, act, and acknowledge that an emergency has happened. Traditional email notifications weren't enough, in part due to the unpredictability of when users check their emails and how to monitor and track (proper) acknowledgement of an emergency. This led the team to investigate the different features and functionality of the Workplace Platform.

One of the most promising and recent features that we were able to identify was the use of Chatbots. The Chatbots Workplace feature provided many out-of-the-box solutions that we can latch on and take advantage of e.g. instant messaging and receipt, automated process response flow. With these features fully developed we were able to find readily available hifi mockups which were used to run our first set of usability tests.

Another great feature we were able to identify was the Workplace user demographic and groups. We were able to take advantage of this by using office locations and user to team/function mapping and using them to automatically populate target audiences for an incident.

Mocking for Safety

TESTING | Wireframes, PROTOTYPES, Sketch, Invision

With the set of tools identified and requirements set, we set out in creating simple prototypes to test the core hypotheses. We were able to skip barebones wireframing tests and jump into more recognizable mockups of Messenger bots (since it’s been widely used). This gave us focus and close to reality reaction and validation from how our users will use the app (because of their familiarity with the Bot feature). Our tests focused on mocking the 3 important phases of a safety emergency.

Our first priority in design was to provide an assistive, no-fuss way for users to raise an incident from their mobile phones. It should help in efficiently raising a concern through the use of the technologies and features we’ve identified. We decided to stagger the input of information between 2 main screens. The main reason to do this was for users to be able to notify a safety officer with the least amount of information that the responsible people need which is the incident, incident description and location, the latter automatically tagged based on the geo-location of the user. The next details are the specifics of the incidents -- who's involved, location confirmation (which amends the assumed location if different), type of incident. On this stage a user can also survey the affected members for their safety.

We conducted several iterations of testing the mockups in different scenarios, tweaking elements as we go along. The following are some of the insights we’ve formulated from the whole exercise.

Insights
React Phase
- The period when a user is affected (directly, indirectly) by a safety concern and sends an alert to through the app

  • Depending on the gravity of a safety concern (office fire vs malware attack, physical/emotional vs infrastructure) the react time varies greatly.
  • Since this is a new app, the habit and/or process of raising a concern is an afterthought as users would normally go about how they would react in an emergency scenario.
  • Depending on the scenario, different users who are on the scene may report different emergency situations, although the core of the emergency stays intact.

Acknowledgement Phase - The period when a group of users (team, company, etc) receives, acknowledges the safety concern through the app.

  • Similar to a characteristic in the React phase, the time for someone to acknowledge/respond to an alert varies to the gravity of the situation.
  • Sometimes users don’t respond alert to the alert notification
  • Genuine appreciation for the notification is given especially if timely and great disappointment and distrust if the notification is not received and is excessively late.

Tracking Phase - The period that overlaps with the acknowledgement that monitors the safety concern and the state of the users who may be involved in the situation

  • Because of the response time for users to acknowledge the safety concern limits must be set to take further action
  • Timely reports to concerned stakeholders (including users involved) is warranted, valuable
  • The reporting, acknowledgement, and tracking of an incident for a company is greatly valued from the legal point of view as the app helps document the incident thoroughly

Optimizing for Emergency Timelines

Design iteration, hifi design | Hi Fi mockups, Sketch, Invision

Across the board, time to report and respond vary greatly depending on the gravity of an incident. The core priority of the app was to ensure safety for all who may be involved in an incident and we needed to cater for the factor of time. We needed to be in front of the situation but not be a deterrent to the user’s safety.

Since every situation is different, we formulated a way for a scenario to be categorized on it’s severity which defaults certain notification schemes (time to send notification, reminder, etc.) which can also be changed on the fly. This per-situation timeline definition helped greatly in treating an incident on a case-to-case basis suggesting the right amount of pressure and action needed as it comes. This also resulted in a contextual reasoning as to why some users respond (or lack thereof) to an incident and can be taken on a case-to-case basis by identified personnel to check on.

Designing a Dashboard for Safety

Design iteration, hifi design | Hi Fi mockups, Sketch, Invision

An integral part of the whole system was for administrators and people identified as Safety Officers to have a dashboard that helps them raise, respond and track emergencies that happen within their companies and teams. The following were the most important design requirements were identified, focusing on the overarching goals mentioned previously.

  • A stripped down dashboard that lists incidents raised, ordered by the state and severity of an incident.
  • A list of relevant events from identified feeds (RSS, Twitter) that may or have affected related locations / employees.
  • A quick and easy way to have a reporting tool to raise incidents
  • An Incident page that displays effectively the state and other relevant information regarding that incident. These can be a combination of the following
  • Response summary report of employees that may have been affected by the incident e.g. Unconfirmed, Negative Response, Positive Response.
  • A map of where the incident happened/reported if available
  • Ways to send notifications or “rechecks” to identified employees who haven't been confirmed via the Bot.
  • Relevant details for each identified members (eg. personal phone/email, etc.)
  • Related consolidated events feed coming from identified relevant channels
  • Summary of the Incident report that was raised

Ensuring Feedback Loops

Design iteration, hifi design | Hi Fi mockups, Sketch, Invision

It was important to ensure regular, closed feedback loops between people affected and the safety officers throughout the whole time an incident is active. Once we integrated the safety app with the app’s dashboard, we were able to iterate through our identified scenarios and identify potential comms failures and improve on them.

What we implemented in one of our first iterations was an automated notification system to the persons/teams involved and to the safety officers and responsible individuals (managers, lawyers, etc). The cadence of automated notifications depended on several factors which mainly revolved around the severity of the situation (persons involved, type of incident, etc). What we also ensured is that every query-response between a user and a bot regarding the situation has a tight loop (no open ended questions / AI assisted) and is often given a link to a summary of the situation.

Improving the way to create elearning

UX / IX & UI Design
Learndot

Summary

Our product team wanted to create a new revenue stream on the elearning landscape and our enterprise elearning application fit the bill. We had to rethink, trim down, and validate and revalidate our assumptions. We developed a leaner elearning application based on what we know and what we validated from our existing/potential customers and managed to produce a design system along the way.

Background and Problem Summary

Our elearning enterprise application has grown significantly both in form and functionality relating to the growth of different types of elearning components and structures that are used to create a course. This has caused the process of creating courses and its lessons cumbersome and inefficient. Our company decided to create a leaner and more efficient version of the product that contains a trimmed down and more efficient course creation process.

Goals

Top-level success metric

  • Number of paid sign-ups to use the light version
  • Create a new business stream for those who  prefer a leaner and lighter elearning platform

Product and design level success metric

  • Course creation time to time to consumption
  • NPS score of usability of the course editor

Product and design objectives

  • Improve the current and next generation course creation process
  • Ready the framework and implementation that can be reused in the enterprise version
  • Kickstart the development and use of the product’s design system and refresh outdated visual designs

Design Process

Trimming the fat

AnalySIS | Google Analytics, Hotjar, Segment

Internally we have known that we would need to dramatically trim down the set of features and functionalities our enterprise application offers to be able to be in an opportunity to cater to our target audience. We also knew we needed to be smart and critical about our decision making process and what types of questions, data, and analytics we would want to use to help us in making those decisions. Luckily, our teams have put us in a great situation wherein getting those data was easy and straightforward.

Our data sources are pretty straightforward but the quality of what we were able to mine was immensely helpful. Of course, we still had to do our due diligence in conducting usability interviews and prototyping but because we had a good percentage of quantitative data, we were able to focus on validating our assumptions through our qualitative data gatherings.

  • The team drilled down the usage of the different functionalities we have on our enterprise application, specifically on how much each particular component has been used in a N number of courses. This gave us an overview on how much those components were being used: high, moderate, or low.
  • The next step was analyzing as to why those components are being used in those frequencies. This is to validate if the components were not user-friendly, doesn’t fit to a certain criteria, or doesn’t fit to a certain business model. 

Jumping in and venturing out

Proof of concept | Wireframes, Sketch, Invision

Our next step was to validate what the data was showing us through user interviews and getting actual insight as to why users weren’t using specific elearning components, functionalities and/or features of the application. This resulted in a variety of reasons which was grouped into two: valid and invalid (validity isn’t denoting the reason is invalid for the customer to not use the functionality, it is validity of the reason to include or not include the functionality to the new product).

After getting qualitative feedback from our current customers and validating some of our assumptions with our quantitative data we purposely revisited our enterprise application user personas and evaluated which ones should be modified and migrated, or be cut from the new app’s personas.

Making it lean

Testing our assumptions | Wireframes, Sketch, Invision

Once our teams were comfortable with several set of assumptions we went ahead to test them by creating a low fidelity prototype through simple wireframes. Our main goal was to test and get data that would prove/disprove how the main flow of course creation would perform. Basically our main targets were ease of creation and  high usage rate for selected components.

We also ran several exercises validating if our product terminology fits the trimmed down version of our product. This was another critical part of the project, as we all agreed that we can’t make an assumption to reuse our old terminologies because we were catering for a different context and audience. We used XXXX and ran a very simple XXXX to test first our current terminologies on how effective they are and then ran another one to test our revised list. After this, we ran a XXXX to test our information architecture.

Insights

  • We can further trim the elearning components as more advanced components aren’t used because of the set of use cases we want to serve. This has a trickle down effect as some components are related to each other
  • Majority of our terminology and structure fits our new use cases as many of these are generally used across the elearning community

Packing (and repacking) it all in

Design iteration, hifi design | Hi Fi mockups, Sketch, Invision

After our first initial design iteration we pushed on applying what we’ve learned to an actual baked product. Aside from the general flow of the pages/interactions and information structure the engineering team needed detailed mockups and micro interactions of our different components/elements.

We took this opportunity to also apply and test a refreshed branding style that is more up-to-date, that also lends itself to the simplicity of the product. We produced several high-fidelity prototypes and ran them through our previous test cases with potential users, analyzed the results, looked into the finer interactions between components, and applied changes to any changes. Rinsed and repeated for another round before the product and design team handed it to engineering.

Insights

  • Combining lofi feedback/improvements with branding refresh muddled our first hifi data analysis as it combined feedback and improvements on both fronts
  • Pushing back of using engineering resources / pushing hifi mockup prototyping saves a lot of development and iteration time of close to MVP version

Goals Review

We rolled out the project a little over a year after the inception of it, which is a little over our target deadline. What the whole team was able to accomplish follows:

  • A new elearning Sass application, which can be ready in a few minutes for a customer to create an elearning website
  • New customer segment has been created an has N* signups after X* months
  • A leaner and more streamlined course creation process. A course creator can create a full course with N* lessons that is (X lessons)(-10x)* faster than our enterprise application and is on par with our new competitors in this elearning segment.
  • The product’s learning components have an increase of % usage rate and no component is not used by any elearning schools
  • Using our learnings and new design system, our current enterprise application is undergoing a review to improve based on the new course editor

Rethinking and redesigning a product symbol

Branding
Learndot

Background and Problem Summary

After some internal deliberation our product and executive teams decided to use a symbol to drive the refresh of our Learndot product's branding. Prior to that we decided to stick with just the wordmark, however we figured to best bring back the symbol to:

  • For product completeness - a symbol is essential as part of the identity of Learndot. There are marketing, product and engineering scenarios that need a simple but relatable identification back to the product.
  • For technical(UI) completeness - to cater to several UI opportunities and limitations that are enforced by different UI, ecosystems, and OSes frameworks like favicons, avatars, integrations, and apps. The wordmark "Learndot 'by ServiceRocket'" isn't flexible enough to cater to these needs.
  • For branding - similar to UI limitations, there would be instances wherein limited dimensions are needed and our current wordmark isn't flexible enough.

The Learndot product had an existing symbol, however we wanted to create a new one for:

  • The symbol is unique but does not relate back to the wordmark and as a full lockup type, there is a sense of indifference and not harmony.
  • When used soley, does not connect well with the branding because there are no visual cues that connects it back to the wordmark.

Thought Process

I approached the design by focusing on what's going to stay within the full lockup logo. The new symbol had have a natural progression when seen together with the wordmark. Considering this, we steered away in the use of radiuses for corners and gradients for color. Then I focused on what visual cues we can borrow, again to further the connection between the elements between the logos.

  • It connects well with the wordmark, having several visual cues that go back to it, as well as visual cues relating to the word "Learndot".
  • It's unique, strong, and can stand on its own but relatable to the wordmark and to the brand.
  • As a full lockup type, the consistency between the symbol and the wordmark is more harmonious.

Connecting two teams on two systems

UX / IX & UI Design
Workplace

Background and Problem Summary

Jira and Workplace are two great platforms for collaboration. Jira, originally developed as a bug tracking tool by Atlassian, has significantly grown out from its shell and has evolved to a fully fledged collaboration tool for tasks, issues, roadmaps, helping teams and organizations move forward. Workplace is a new instance of Facebook dedicated to the work environment, taking advantage of the huge design familiarity of features and concepts from the Facebook platform. It pivots it’s focus and functionality on helping work environment teams collaborate not just internally but also externally.

Collaboration within these two systems are incredibly high but collaboration between these two systems are full of friction and challenges. Information redundancy and lack of knowing that an information exists are the two main problems in collaborating between these two systems, which our project aimed to solve. We had to devise a way for an integration and an implementation to seamlessly solve collaboration issues between users of these two systems, oftentimes having access to both systems.

Goals

Top-level success metric

  • Number of free sign-ups during a 3 month period
  • Reduce rate of browser traffic - (clicking of a link ) to and from both systems

Product and design level success metric

  • Seamlessly integrate conversations between Jira and Workplace
  • NPS score of 9

Design Process

Reviewing the Integration Party

The team had been fairly familiar with Jira, through years of custom development and daily use. With an internal expert knowledge of how integrations work in the backend we evaluated our current integrations (specifically, the company’s widely popular integration with Salesforce) and highlighted several aspects of the design that are loved by its users. We also highlighted several pain points. At this point we didn’t filter yet what we think may or may not apply to the integration we are building as we wanted to collect as much idea as possible and converge later in the design process.

With Workplace being fairly new to the scene, there were quite a few integrations out-of-the-box. Facebook, Drive, Youtube, but not yet one that existed to a cross collaboration tool like Jira. We reviewed the current, beta, and alpha functionalities to see what potential routes we can do.

Jumping in and venturing out

Proof of concept | Wireframes, Sketch, Invision

Our next step was to validate what the data was showing us through user interviews and getting actual insight as to why users weren’t using specific elearning components, functionalities and/or features of the application. This resulted in a variety of reasons which was grouped into two: valid and invalid (validity isn’t denoting the reason is invalid for the customer to not use the functionality, it is validity of the reason to include or not include the functionality to the new product).

After getting qualitative feedback from our current customers and validating some of our assumptions with our quantitative data we purposely revisited our enterprise application user personas and evaluated which ones should be modified and migrated, or be cut from the new app’s personas.

Validating Ideas of Value

Our next step after ideating on some ideas that we think would bring value to users was to validate and rank them to identify what can go to our MVP roadmap. We latched on to Workplace’s multi-company functionality, inviting potential users and customers to collaborate on functionalities and needs they think are valuable to them. We identified several participants and ran a survey and an interview with them.

Field Market Survey

  • This survey mainly focused on (1) Getting demographic information of a company who would be interested in the integration and 
  • (2) Validating 6 ideas through ranking
  • (3) Know other use cases / challenges their users face in using Workplace and Jira together

Interviews

Our surveys led us to several key customer collaborators who we next interviewed. The purpose of this interview was to get to know more about the key persons who evaluate a tool and make a decision on how and how much value a solution we are offering can bring and/or problems it can solve within their organization. These persons have collected and identified feedback and problems raised by their teams that are related to their work using Workplace and Jira. We also identified potential personas who may use our products on different levels or parts of the integration.

Drilling on Ideas and Picking Most Valuable

At this point, we have several data we can work with:

  • Existing similar integrations’ feedback, pain points, value
  • Scope and limitations
  • Ranked ideas for the the new integration
  • Target customers/personas

We deliberated on the ideas to identify a set of features that we would want to prototype and potentially be slated on our MVP. We worked around the exercise with one question in mind - “Given the business goals and requirements, which of these ideas would give the most value to our potential users that we can develop in the next 2 months”.

We landed on picking the most voted and easiest to implement solution - syncing a comment from Jira to Workplace. The gist of the problem is that communication regarding a specific issue gets confusing and oftentimes lost when a user posts an issue (link) on Workplace and some Workplace users converse on the Workplace thread where the issue was shared. This brings communication friction because of the following reasons:

  • The full context of a Jira issue is not immediately available when shared to an external website, this includes important comments regarding the issue
  • When someone comments on a Workplace thread regarding the issue, these comments aren’t available to the issue itself
  • There are instances where a user is limited to either just Jira or Workplace, not having the option to see the full context of the issue
  • The back and forth and time notation of someone trying to piece together a conversation between the two platform is extremely tedious, confusing, and a waste of time

The team was fairly familiar with the selected problem to solve, having developed a similar solution in one of our other integration products between Salesforce and Jira. We then combined our requirements, customer expectations, ideas to solve this problem, and translatable solutions from our experiences to develop a simple prototype to validate our assumptions on how the chosen problem would be solved.

Usability test on existing integrations similar to what we want to solve

The team knew that initially we can only solve the general communication problem one-way (syncing comments from Jira to Workplace and not the other way around yet) because of the time constraints we’ve set at the start of the project. And this posed a user value question - “Would users value a solution to a problem that only solves half of it?” Alongside our general usability tests of how well elements and functionalities are presented and interacted with by the user, we wanted to know how much value that solution would bring to the customer, with the said limitation.

Once our prototype was ready we went back to our participants and ran our usual usability tests to check how well our implementation runs with customer expectations. We encountered similar reactions to the unfamiliarity of how a thread of conversation can get confusing when synced across two platforms, especially at that moment because we were only syncing one-way. This reflected in the 2nd part of the usability exercise, where we asked the participants the question of how much value does this part of a solution bring in solving the issues they raised initially. The incomplete solution was actually received well but 4 out 5 respondents gave the following feedback (summarized and combined):

  • The solution presented, even partly implemented (syncing comments only one-way), gives our users information about a different conversation that does not originate from the actual thread. It can be confusing and clunky at first but the feature of knowing a separate conversation exists is valuable.

This feedback gave us pause to ponder and look at our solution one more time. Our proposed solution (already slated as an MVP feature candidate) does bring value but is far from a complete solution. Unfortunately, being incomplete does add to the deterioration of the user experience, albeit something that can be overcome from time of use and familiarity. However, the team asked a what if- what if we can deliver a simpler but complete solution that would bring the same value to our users? 

Back to the drawing board

We quickly threw some ideas to the table and ended up with a simple “Info integration box” that basically tells any Jira user who views an issue if there’s a thread in Workplace that the issue was mentioned. The team drew up some wireframes to validate our common understanding.

Once we got to a common ground with feasibility of development confirmed, we developed lofi mockups and ran a quick usability feedback exercise to customers. The solution did not wow them but more importantly we validated our assumption that this new simple solution would bring the same value compared to the previous solution without the cons of it and can be developed and released faster to beta.

Development and Beta release

Even with just a lofi mockups we were able to skip hifi versions and tests as our solution was simple enough that doing another round of testing would give us diminishing returns. The team developed the feature pretty quickly and we were able to roll out our beta version and deliver some value to our users fast, considering the pivot we had to do during the first development cycle.

Improving the UX Maturity of an Organization

LEADERSHIP
SERVICEROCKET

Background

The UX Maturity Model is a 5 stage gauge as to how mature an organization is in terms of how effective and engaged they are in their UX efforts. The grading process is arbitrary but is dependent on a contract and agreement between the product/service owners and stakeholders. It is also crucial for us to be critical to our ratings to set the bar high for our goals.

The 5 stages of UX maturity are:

  • Interested  - UX is important but receives little funding in budget, time and resources
  • Invested - UX is very important and formalized programs emerge
  • Committed - UX is critical and execs are actively involved
  • Engaged - UX is one of the core tenants of the company's strategy
  • Embedded - UX is in the fabric of the company not separately discussed

It is worth noting the following information:

  • 37% of companies have not yet reached the first stage of maturity
  • 41% of the companies are in the first two stages
  • Only 4% are in the 5th stage

One of the goals I’ve set as the head of usability and design was to improve how much we value usability within the company and how much value it delivers to our users and to us. We’ve set this as an overarching goal, and each initiative or task needed to be aligned with that. It was also important to align each initiative with the company’s goals and objectives. We believe that in doing so would make our climb easier, with the company’s full resources pushing us up and not the other way around, because each initiative will be a win-win outcome for both.

Identify metrics for evaluation (testing, design systems, user personas)

As stated, UX Maturity Levels is an arbitrary set of ratings a company can use to itself to gauge how it can improve itself. There are several resources out there that discusses this which served as a guideline for us. At the beginning of this huge exercise, we translated what does every level (Interested, Invested, Committed, Engaged, Embedded) specifically mean to us.

We started by listing as many usability exercises, design practices, design methodologies we can think of. Some of these we have been using or had used, and some we have never used or tried. Some of them we never even have heard of. At this point it was more important to collect all these data (which gave us a lot of insight into the range we can explore later). We grouped these into different types - testing/prototyping, interviews, methodologies, tools, artifacts. The next was the easiest part of the exercise, which was basically marking all of the UX “things” we currently use or are doing. The result was quite humbling, because an expanse of unchecked “things” was very apparent. However, we reminded ourselves that - we just started and this is a good first step and that even after plotting which “things” we want to do to achieve high UX maturity we shouldn’t have an excessive amount of tools, tasks, process, etc. to do that if we’re smart.

The next step was to assess each business team and each functional team within the organization. We took note and plotted all UX related activities and tools that we have in our arsenal and also noted which ones we’ve had success with. It was important also for us to take note of any tools that had an overlap in functionality and also similar tools between teams that can be later combined (to reduce cost). Lastly we took note of any UX training, groups, and activities that our employees have or are engaged in, and similarly surveyed which one was effective and brought value to our work.

In parallel to the step above was the evaluation of how our UX related efforts extend to the products we are developing. This heavily involved the product and business unit teams as we surveyed the different tools, artifacts, and processes a product goes through in our development processes. These ranged from:

  • Product insight interviews
  • Usability prototyping (lofi, hifi)
  • User persona development
  • Design guidelines / design systems
  • Automated UI regression testing
  • A/B testing framework
  • Other UX tests and analyses

Create a scorecard

At this point, we have a good set of understanding on what we currently do and have, as well as what else we aren’t doing, can do, and won’t do. We created a scorecard per each functional  team, and product, and a combination of both for each business unit. And all of these feed towards the top grading for the company which is basically the total score from each BU.  It was a simple formula but I believe this worked well to make it easier for members and teams to see how our efforts centred to UX contribute to the overall goal.

Understanding the Goal

This first exercise was very critical to the overall process because it produced  a more tangible guideline on how to achieve the goal of improving the UX maturity. Think of the UX maturity as a grand painting and the scorecards as grids on the painting, with each grid we work on contributes to the overall vision of the painting. Breaking it down this way made it easier for us to work in smaller batches but still understand how we are contributing to the bigger picture.

It was also important to plot the overall goals and tasks and how it aligns with the company goals. The combination of these points makes it easier for everyone to know how they are contributing to (1) Company goals and (2) Maturity of UX in the organization.

Setting up the foundations

The UX&D team is a functional team that contributes across the organization by facilitating people and work needed by each business unit. We wanted to establish a baseline of expectations of what business units can expect from this team, for example:

  • A UX/UI designer knows how to wireframe
  • We use Invision for prototyping
  • We run design retros immediately after a prototyping session

Design request is handled byThe above set of examples can be categorized as expected knowledge in:

  • UX Methodologies and best practices
  • Preferred tools and standards used in the organization
  • Processes within and between teams

One critical step we took was we identified individuals (not limited to the UX&D team) who are essential in the product development process to usability courses in Interaction Design Foundation. We invested in this program for us to have a common and shared understanding of what we mean when we talk about “User Persona”, and what are our baseline expectations of what an artifact would look like.

Internally, we defined sets of mini-processes that can be plugged into design sprints depending on what type of usability exercise is needed by the product team. Lastly, we identified preferred internal tools and processes that are helping us to have a standard protocol in our communications and handovers.

Long way to go

In our current state, we are running several streams of initiatives that contribute in improving our UX maturity level. An example of these initiatives is the two major goals that applies to several business unit are:

  • Building consistent and scalable designs
  • Putting the user at the decision table

Some of the sub-initiatives we have that contributes in improving these goals are:

  • Development and use of design guidelines and design systems
  • Since starting the mission of improving our UX maturity, we have developed and rolled out 2 design systems and 2 design guidelines. These are all still under development and are regularly updated and iterated on but have been beneficial to many teams, improving our speed and consistency in putting out UI components.
  • This has been a great collaboration between functional teams - DevOps, Engineering, Product, and UX&D.
  • User Persona Development
  • Many of our products now have user personas and many more underway. This was one of the first steps in reintroducing our users to our product development lifecycle and we are tinkering with our process on how we can make them more present in our discussions (for example, renaming User Stories, documentation links, etc.)
  • Deliberate inclusion of usability tests and exercises in the design process. These range from:
  • Card sorting
  • Lofi/Hifi prototyping
  • Surveys and interviews

There also has been organic growth within the company, some initiated by other functional teams. These range from new engineering chapters dedicated to UX and UI to direct hire of UX designers that are embedded in a product development squad (engineers, UX designers, product manager). We’ve also created several social groups where individuals can freely share insights, threads, and questions centered around usability and design.

The talk of UX within the company is more natural, and is becoming more and more part of our vocabulary. The usability scorecard evaluation has a regular quarterly cadence and one is due soon but it’s safe to say that we’ve bumped a level since we’ve started, and will continue to improve.

ALL OF THE COOL ILLUSTRATIONS ON THIS USE CASE IS By Thierry Fousse FROM ICON8

Implementing Design Systems for ServiceRocket

Leadership
Servicerocket

Background and Problem Summary

ServiceRocket is a company focused on bridging the gap between new technologies and companies. It’s in the business of software adoption, partnering with several companies, namely Atlassian and Facebook, who have great products that help other companies collaborate and function. ServiceRocket, as part of their software adoption mission, also develop their own eLearning product called Learndot which focuses on providing elearning for new products to be learned by its users internal and external.

In this environment, ServiceRocket is in many ecosystems, catering to many types of users, meeting different expectations. This poses a great opportunity and challenge on the design and development of products by ServiceRocket to each of these platforms. With each product’s product teams solving their business problems within the product, we looked in to solving company wide problems:

  • How can we set a guideline for designing products for other platforms?
  • How can we help product teams be efficient in getting ideas out of the door consistently?

What was clear to us were several things:

  • Each ecosystem provided their own branding and design guideline. Some of them are inherently/forced to each product developed within it. This lent a big help in our product and development teams to be consistent.
  • However, inconsistencies were still very much apparent. These ranged from the following:
  • Branding (logo styles)
  • Vocabulary (“Save” vs “Update”)
  • Interactions (disabled states)
  • Functionality (how search results are displayed)
  • And many more.
  • Inconsistency also was apparent when some elements not available in the ecosystem but can be developed in it independently without the use of the ecosystem’s style guide

Seeing through the customer's eyes / The Question of branding / Mission - Software Adoption

One important factor that was raised by our stakeholders and was an apparent issue in our cataloging was the subject of branding. Back then, our products’ identity as our product was sporadic. Sometimes we’ll use our company logo for one product, and in another case we’ll use some icon resembling (what we think) the product’s essence. There were also cases where we thought our products identity needed to fill in a gap in the design. An example of this is for Learndot, our eLearning platform. Our customers who use the system have their own branding and identity but do not necessarily have components and functionalities designed for eLearning. At this point, because of technical limitations and assumptions, we combine our styles with theirs having a page and its elements designed a certain way, and a different one in another.

These scenarios posed a very complex set of problems in different tiers (customers, users, partners, ourselves). We knew immediately that we wouldn’t be able to solve this big problem by clubbing everything together and then solving it, but we did identify similarities with the problems raised.

What was apparent though, was the core principle on how we were going to solve it-- which is part of the company’s mission - helping our customers achieve better software adoption. How does this apply in practical terms? It means that we see through our customer’s eyes and ask how will our branding affect the user’s experience in the  use of our product within our partner’s ecosystem. For example, in making a decision of what color to use for a button, we would ask ourselves - would the brand color enhance their experience or would it cause friction? Is our typography in a card component consistent  with the partners’ typography or would it cause a mental pause of unfamiliarity with a user because it’s different? In almost all cases, the answer was right in front of us. Our customer’s experience is more important than our branding, because that’s what it would take to achieve better software adoption, our mission.

We put this as the one tying principle and decision maker in our to be developed process.What we formulated then is to build a set of processes in solving these problems independently.

Developing a process that involves everyone in the team

What we wanted to achieve in solving our scaling and consistency problem was for everyone to buy-in to the use and maintenance of the design system per product. A “Design System” means many things in the design and product development industry (branding guideline, pattern library, design tool component library, etc.) but we defined ours as:

“A design system is a collection of tools, processes, and people that collectively produce and maintain elements, artifacts, and assets that help our product and teams be consistent and scalable across the board that helps enhance the product’s user experience”

An important part of our definition of system is the people participating in it. We divide this into two categories: the people who use and contribute to the system, and the people who develop and maintain the infrastructure and processes of the system. Note that many people overlap between these two categories. One important aspect of this is that we made a purposeful choice to include as many functional teams as possible in the development and maintenance of the system. This has a two-fold benefit: we have a more diverse pool of ideas and guardrails coming from different teams (marketing, product, usability, etc) and those people from different teams become ambassadors in the use and adherence to the use of the system.

The Specifics

I’m going to detail below the different tools and how teams use them, and then an overarching process on how it all ties together. I will be using a usual request that would come in to a product’s development cycle.

Prerequisites

  • A developed branding guideline that has the core elements (color, typography, etc) defined

Workflow

An improvement is raised to change the style of a link to a button

  • System: Jira
  • Reviewed (change request approved/denied) by product and UX&D team
  • If change affects branding, Branding team is involved
  • If approved Issue is linked to a new issue to do the design change request in a different Jira Project dedicated to the product’s design

Design request is handled by Product and UX&D team

  • Systems: Jira, Sketch, Invision
  • Request is assigned to designer, and works 1st wireframe iteration on Sketch
  • Wireframe is reviewed for approval by Product/UX&D team/Engineering in Invision. Iteration will be required if necessary. Usability test will be required if necessary
  • After initial design approval lofi/hifi mockups/prototypes are developed (fidelity depends on complexity of the design) and goes to another approval iteration
  • After final approval of the design the UX&D team updates a shared Sketch library of components

Design request is handled by Engineering

  • System: Invision, Jira, Git, Storybook, Jenkins, AWS
  • The next handover is for the engineering team to develop a UI element as an HTML element (HTML, CSS, JS, React/Angular, etc.)
  • Issue is assigned to a front-end developer and develops the UI element
  • Design is reviewed by the designer. At this point limitations on the engineering side may still popup and it can go back to the previous process.
  • Once component is developed and approved, developer pushes changes to main branch of the design system’s component library
  • The push to the main branch of the repo it automatically is triggered to update the production copy of Storybook where components are available for consumption
  • Issue is closed

Implementation of design on Product

  • System: Jira, Storybook
  • Original issue is updated with details about developed component
  • Issue is assigned to engineer that will update the reference of new design library (external CSS) in the Product
  • Automated UI testing is done and iterations are done if necessary
  • Review and approval from Product team is handled
  • Original issue is closed

If Change affects public branding

  • Systems: Jira, Marketing web publishing platform
  • Original issue spawns another change request on a different Jira Project for Marketing
  • Task to update all necessary public facing media is assigned to marketing team
  • Marketing / Branding team reviews and approves changes, iterations are done if necessary
  • Changes are pushed to product/assets are republished

The Big (Necessary) Push

One great push the initiative got was the support from the executive team and the general managers of the product, with them seeing the problem of scale and inconsistency in their products and the solution in doing the initiative. As I mentioned before, one great hurdle an initiative like this will encounter is getting buy-in from your teams. Having the executive team not only backing it but "ambassadoring" it was a huge boost in getting over that hurdle.

Current state

At the time of writing, we have started 3 design systems, each quite unique from each other with tweaks in the processes and development cycles to accommodate the product’s development cadence and the people working on those teams. We are in (and will be for a long time) progress of the following items in the said design systems:

  • 3 design guidelines
  • 3 Sketch component pattern libraries
  • 2 Storybook instances
  • 3 design workflows in Jira
  • AWS (S3, Cloudfront) setup

We currently have these functional teams working with the products teams:

  • Engineering (Ops)
  • Engineering (Frontend)
  • Product
  • UX&D
  • Marketing
  • Executive

These design systems now serve as a crucial pillar in 3 product lines (20+ apps, 1 enterprise platform, 3 public websites) and are continually helping those teams scale and be consistent in presenting their products.

Selected Work & Case Studies

Designing a workplace app for office safety

UX / IX & UI Design
Workplace

Improving an eLearning creation process

UX / IX & UI Design
Learndot

Rethinking and redesigning an existing symbol

Branding
Learndot

Connecting different teams from two systems

UX / IX & UI Design, Product MANAGEMENT
Workplace, Jira

Improving the UX maturity of an organization

Leardership
ServiceRocket

Developing design systems for multiple BUs

Leardership
ServiceRocket

About & Contact

Hi there,

I'm a usability and product designer and currently the Head of Usability and Design at ServiceRocket. I'm also an advocate against Dark Patterns, presently researching on ways how we can solve it as a community (I try to write about this for now). Contact me if you have ideas!

I mostly design and balance product usability and UI with our product and engineering teams, and often times validating value with our users. I usually drive and manage design systems as well, for scale and consistency. Occasionally, I also do brand design and brand management.

I currently live in Santiago, Chile. A Celtic fan, ASOIAF and First Law series groupie, and a Metallica nut. I also do street photography.

Cheers,
Yel

Download: Résumé

Email: contact@yellegaspi.com

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