STRATEGY - When I joined the team in November of 2016 the site was in an MVP state (Minimum Viable Product.) It had just enough features to satisfy new customers and to provide feedback for future development. However, the offering managers were ambivalent about the ongoing direction of the product, perhaps because the business goals were unclear.
UX DESIGN/USER RESEARCH - The designers were tasked with incremental improvements as well as new functionality, but we knew little about our users. The content was intended for C-level executives researching solutions, products, and services. However, user traffic and behaviors did not match the working assumption.
We were having difficulty making the simplest design decisions, thus taking longer than expected to complete work. There were also several inconsistencies and navigational issues with the current site.
PROCESS - A lack of process when it came to kicking off new functionality, documenting design decisions and reviewing and approving work. We were also using guidelines that were created for standard article and marketing pages. We had to maintain the balance of using existing patterns, but in an unconventional way and still remain compliant.
First, getting strategic direction from our leadership was the highest priority. Second, finding out who our users were and how to provide the best possible user experience. Third, create an efficient design process that would easily integrate with the existing agile development process.
PROCESS - The issues the design team had control over were the easiest to solve. I wrote a Project Brief to help kick-off new functionality. I developed a system to help track user requirements and design decisions using the existing agile tracking software.
I also found a feature in the same software that allowed us to assign design reviews and approvals. We had some issues with how our stories were written, so the design team went into the backlog and edited all the user stories that were not written. "As a user, I need to _______________, so that I can______________."
I created a design toolkit in Sketch which included page templates, custom color palettes, useful plug-ins and My IBM specific symbols for the entire design team to use.
DESIGN/USER RESEARCH - Starting with simple surveys and polls, we asked visitors to tell us what type of industry they were in, what role they played, what their most common tasks were on the site, and if we could contact them for further one-on-one research. We surprisingly had over 200 respondents, and a 45% of those were willing to participate in more detailed feedback. Only 8 of the total respondents identified as C-level executives.
The other respondents were of nearly equal numbers:
- Business Owners
- End users/staff (developers)
- Other (We learned in a different survey that the "Other" category were students.)
We were also able to do a couple of one-on-one interviews with IBM Champions, not average users, but we still received helpful feedback.
I initiated a heuristic analysis of the current experience, pointing out user experience and language issues, as well as interface inconsistencies. After presenting to the product managers, the team could prioritize short and long-term enhancements.
STRATEGY - After many conversations, we were able to facilitate a four-day Design Thinking workshop with the designers and our offering managers.
The first day was about the business strategy. The second about our users, what we knew, what we didn't. Day three was about specific projects coming up. The last day was regarding the Dashboard page on the site. It was the landing page after a user logged in and we had doubts about its function and whether it was providing the right experience.
We established a Purpose for the product – To allow anyone with an IBM id to access and manage their (IBM account) personal information, offerings, status, transactions, preferences, security, and recommendations.
Wrote a Mission – Provide a trusted space where a user can easily connect their experiences all in one place, anytime, anywhere.
Solidified the Vision – My IBM is the single point for all users to manage their relationship with IBM. This relationship is nurtured by establishing connections, presenting education, and relevant content encompassing the breadth of IBM, which is presented in a standard and consistent account management experience.
Created Product Principles –
- Make it simple, reliable, and secure
- Guide the user to the right answer for their needs
- Must be significantly more innovative than any other account management experience
- Make it fun, engaging, and delightful so they want to come back for more
- Make it elegant on the outside; smart and powerful on the inside
Who are our users?
We presented the results of surveys and discussed the most urgent feedback from our one-on-one interviews. We presented new user types, with assumptions about who we would prioritize and laid out a strategy for ongoing research.
The outcome of the meeting was very successful; our product managers had a better understanding of the design process, how little we knew about our users and how important user research was to our success. They also seemed invigorated by clarifying the direction of the product in their charge.