Problem solving/Design thinking

Task: The mission was to reimagine and redesign this standalone analytical application used by approx 30k users with the latest tech stack. I have tried to represent a workflow for this project.

  1. Define:

    At project initiation, I try to understand the product extensively to build empathy with the end users. I also visited clients and carried out interviews with 18 users who were representative of whole user group.

    I conducted user sessions to visit the clients physically and observe how they use our applications. I feel observation always take the center stage of my design thinking. When we empathize with the users, focus on their world and try to understand their difficulties, then we will be able to identify with their problems.

  2. Ideate:

    After the client visits, I documented all the touch points in their interactions. I also tried to define all the pain points in the interactions. The goal was to brainstorm new designs and re-envision the way we look at the problem areas. I usually resort to plain old pen and paper or use the whiteboard to brainstorm ideas and identifying the task flows and map through the user journey.


    Here is an example of one of the original design of the application:

    Original layout

    Here is the example, of what I suggested and implemented in the design for a better usability:

    1. Use the space more effectively so that it is more scalable and responsive.
    2. Changed the navigation from hub and spoke model to a navigation bar on the top.
    3. Changed the hierarchical tree control and used the space by converting it into a dropdown.
    4. Added quick filters based on user research and observations in the 1st stage.
    5. Minimize the use of horizontal scroll bar and giving users the option to customize it.
    6. Adding alternate grid color for easy readability.

    Redesigned layout
  3. Prototype:
    I try to make some lo-fidelity wireframes using Balsamiq or Sketch for prototyping. I make it as interactive as possible using Invision plugins so that the developers can easily estimate and scope out the project. Furthermore, the product owners and sales also gets an idea of how the future product is shaping up.
  4. Implement:

    Once we know the scope of the re-design, the technology team and the business come together to decide how we want to scope the project. We usually do this over one or two day sessions in the conference room with the whole team.

    Based on all the information we could collect, we define the high-level user stories. For example:
    As a paralegal, I want to easily view and access all case information and legal statutes so that I can make informed decisions.

    To quote Design legend Charles Eames: “design depends largely on constraints”. This thought thoroughly resonates with me; sometimes you need to draw the box in order to know what to break out of. Sometimes due to business decisions, the scope of work is drawn and as User experience designers, we are walking on a thin line to decide which features goes in this release vs which features would be released in the upcoming releases based on the priority and importance.

    During implementation, I try to also define the various points where I would like to track user behavior by adding analytics.

  5. Test:
    After a successful release, I usually start tracking the Analytics and get real time user feedback either through surveys or post release sessions with users. We also make sure that if there are any user issues, we track them and resolve it immediately. For example, post our release we got this feedback from users that disabled buttons were not really legible, and users had a tough time with the contrast ratio. It did not pass the accessibility guidelines, which we fixed in the upcoming style guide.