Experience Auditing, Optimization, and Restructuring
In efforts to fully internalize all technical products, my most recent employer needed to build a more secure and efficient process for absorbing third-party data from our vendors. The data that my team handled was then used by our larger department team to configure any one unique combination of 5,037,285 potential products for the end customer. This data was built on a legacy framework, which needed to be given an easier visualization to understand across three different user types (including some who had little to no technical knowledge of the data's construction).
The product team absorbed an initial framework from which to build the completed application, this brought with it an audit of existing functionality to determine how the team could iterate towards the complete functionality needed. The tool needed to: 1. Absorb the Data 2. Scan the Data for Formatting Errors 3. Monitor the Data for Changes - Referencing Previous Versions 4. Deliver the New Dataset to the Appropriate Parties for both Approval/Rejection & Final Commit to Decentralized Databases 5. Automate Communication of Changes Occurring Throughout the Process to All Parties Affected 6. Track Versioning History for Potential Rollback
As mentioned above one of my primary courses of action was to spearhead an examination of the UI "from the ground up". This included investigating necessary consistency, hierarchy, and overall heuristic performance. Throughout this process we found several areas where added functionality was required to fully meet the end-users' needs. The most notable changes my team made during this time were an overhaul of how we were communicating errors found in the file, how dataset version changes were communicated to our "non-technical" users, and driving consistent visual treatment/structure between pages.
Diving deeper into delivering a final product meant making sure we were aligned with our core users' needs. This sparked the creation of personas and further interviews. From these sessions we were able find superfluous features and functionality shortfalls. Some of these "restructuring" conversations led us to further examine the existing product for functionality previously assumed to be in working order. Testing the product for working conditions led me to find large scale "dead-ends" where our UI was responding to back-end processes devoid of logic. This process enabled me to partner with the team to ask prioritization & value-added questions of our stakeholders for future development.
I was tasked with getting the application "across the finish line". Given that we had outsourced the beginning of the process to a third-party consulting firm the first thing my team focused on was driving consistency through auditing the application's adherence to the design system of the company. Leaning on my visual design past, this opened up my continued collaboration with the design operations team to redesign the UI of the product. After addressing the UI opportunities I helped turn my team's attention towards the core functionality of the application. This involved reaching out to both our internal and external users to revalidate the experience through testing and further exploratory interviews.
At the end of the day, the final product was not necessarily one that you would expect to be listed as the first example of past work on someone's portfolio. We were not able to fully commit sweeping UI changes to drive user ease and speed of usage. We were not able to create a tool that vastly altered the user's experience for the better. We were not able to create the features that were dreamed up as solutions at the start of the project. What I was able to do, however, was lead my team to a better understanding of the problem, the users, and the path forward. This enabled our team to make the recommendations necessary to quickly build a product that provided the most value to the user and business. What we started with was a project that was difficult to use, inconsistent, and incomplete. We ended development on the product with having created a valuable foundation for future progress that passed usability testing, design standards, and engineering integrity to the highest degree.