Better Usability, Better Productivity

Thousands of employees rely on sophisticated systems to offer the best services to clients. So what happens when your software is no longer helping, but hurting?
From its launch, the company software’s static user interface created several limitations for the employees’ productivity. The software used to help employees better serve customers, provided more challenges than solutions. The company soon realized that the poor software usability was resulting in a massive loss of efficiency for its thousands of employees.
The company decided to fund a complete software redesign. Our team addressed all visuals and interactions to increase usability and improve the experience for the employees.
As a senior user experience designer, I worked alongside:

  • 4 additional senior UX designers
  • 2 UI designers
  • 4 business analysts
  • 6 software content experts (users)
  • 20+ developers.

My task was to redesign a very specific portion of the software. These actions fell within the final 75% of the user flow; employees addressed several actions before arriving in the phase I was designing, meaning my experience needed to fit seamlessly with the experiences being designed by my colleagues.

The Process

An agile development methodology was used based on design thinking principles. Product areas, or features, were divided into sprints, with each feature retaining its own project lifecycle from start to finish. Each sprint took about two weeks, and we were able to create one to two features within each sprint.

To begin each sprint, I organized design workshops and usability sessions with real users to understand their needs and identify pain points of the experience. By using rough sketches, I was able to gather feedback as fast as possible and make improvements in real time. Once we agreed on the big picture, I opened up Axure to create live interactions, which gave a good indication of the final feel of the product. With these live prototypes, I was able to make as many tests as I needed to validate my designs. I was rapidly fixing everything that wasn’t great within my wireframe to refine the performance of the new designs.

After a series of test and improvements, I briefed the user interface designer. Once the interface was completed, the developers began coding the new feature. I was part of the project cycle through every step, from the usability discussions to testing of the final product.

During our nine months on this project, I learned the importance of communication when working on a cross-functional team. Daily scrum and weekly meetings, and tools like Slack helped us to collaborate, while a custom library of design components prevented us from doing duplicate work across teams.

Communication is essential, not just between designers. It’s important to ensure at least one representative of each discipline is included in the user experience process from the very beginning. A waterfall approach no longer works for today’s ever-changing technologies. Agile is best. In the end, great communication and great collaboration always leads to great results.