Case Study: Intelligent Picking Process
I was tasked with replacing the existing paper-based process where shop floor leadership had to dedicate much of their day to sorting orders and tracking down paperwork.
Additionally much of the process was not documented or easy to teach to new associates. The complexity of the process would even challenge experienced associates to pick the right part and quantity while trying to meet competitive performance metrics.
In order to build a solution from the ground up, I started with the folks who would be using the new software for eight hours a day: the warehouse attendants.
During the 1-on-1 interviews, contextual inquiries, and focus groups I fostered an environment where associates felt safe to share feedback openly. Patience and confidentiality allowed people to provide me detail when they were ready and built up a mutual respect between us. It was my goal to develop not only a procedural understanding of their responsibilities but also a meaningful personal understanding so that I could effectively design with their perspective in mind.
The observations and anecdotes of our users not only proved valuable for design meetings but also enlightening to those who previously assumed they understood the process just as well as the users did.
I am a strong believer that a successful design process is both collaborative and data-driven. As the lead designer I would encourage discussion about design requirements during development team meetings while creating new designs in parallel. Collaborative designing allowed for us to talk through feedback in real time.
Outside of design meetings and solo work, we made sure to involve our users where appropriate. A / B testing and follow-up contextual inquiry ensured that design decisions were aligned with the data.
I had heard that historically shop floor associates had felt excluded from process changes, so I wanted to show them that they brought an important and valuable perspective to the design process.
Involving our users in the design process also ensured that when it came time to deploy our minimum viable product our project would feel less radical and more incremental. Even if the interests of the users are constantly considered throughout the design process, a dramatic process change can still feel jarring without some transition in place.
Implementation and User Testing
Involvement of our users throughout the design phase paid off during usability testing. Through use of structured scenarios, qualitative feedback, and quantitative feedback such as the System Usability Scale and Lostness metric we were able to pinpoint remaining opportunities for improvement.
By the time the solution was deployed, we received endorsements from even the most technologically adverse individuals.
Case Study: Drone Piloting Software
Discovering the User Experience
As the company’s first user experience designer, I had to start by gathering a complete picture of the users for whom we were designing. I gained my first impressions through Heuristic Analysis of the current state of the software usability and learnability. At first glance it became clear where improvements could be made for lay people, but I needed to contextualize the current design.
I began to learn what our primary user group, underground mining surveyors, needed from our software and where they have had problems in the past. Customer service requests, satisfaction surveys, discovery calls, and a relationship with our customer-facing associates were all integral in shoring up my understanding.
All of this work became tangible during the first site visit where I could see the users’ points of frustration, wear the PPE they were required to wear, and feel the stress that the physical environment placed on the body. It became clear how important it was to give these folks a product that was quick and simple to use.
Documenting the User Experience
Through pairing the experience with qualitative and quantitative data such as photos/videos, the System Usability Score, VCAP cognitive workload metrics, and other survey results I was able to provide reports to those who had never seen our UX in person.
My user journey documenting the user’s typical flow through the software became my foundation for designing the new Information Architecture. I could see now how the users essentially interacted with the software through phases and we could declutter the UX according to the phase of the user journey.
Designing the User Experience
The previous version had a flat information architecture which meant that users were often going into their settings to declutter the screen for each phase of their work.
Keeping in mind the ways I saw our users hold and interact with our ruggedized tablets, I designed the UI to be comfortable and legible for new users or those under duress.
Some of this work meant redesigning icons to be more representative of the results users expected. Other work required reorganizing frequent and infrequent features as well as features that were only for internal use.
The resulting UI was one that was less demanding on Fitz’ Law principles, meaning the user did not have to look all around the screen for features or move their hand far around the screen to access features and information. The adherence to brand colors and guidelines also helped give the UI a more cohesive and polished appearance that would further legitimize our solution to customers.