Validation Through Rapid Prototypes
Here at SaleCycle a large portion of our user base is internal staff. This provides us with an excellent opportunity for easy access into the day to day life of our most frequent users. It also removes any room for excuses for a poor user experience!
As part of the current work we are completing, several areas of our internal systems are being redesigned. To fully understand the problems our UI needs to solve, our product team utilises interviews and detailed user testing as part of our development process.
In this post, I will explain how our Product team has recently approached the task of designing a new UI for our system.
What We Did
To begin our discovery, the Product team spent several hours with members of our operational teams to truly understand the main objectives and motivators of their day to day tasks. This also helped develop an accurate sense of empathy for their challenges. Once we understood the challenges, we created journey maps of the key tasks and highlighted specific pain points in each. This gave focus to individual issues as well as the full end to end journey.
With a firm grasp on the problem space, prototypes were created of a new user interface for several key tasks. This, we hoped, provided solutions to pain points as well as a new simplified journey. We removed as many none crucial tasks as we could in order to meet a key objective of our users: SPEED! Having a deep understanding of what is and isn’t needed to complete the core elements of the task at hand allowed us to be as surgical as possible to provide the leanest experience for our users.
Armed with our new prototype we conducted user testing sessions in which we laid out elaborate challenges and guided walkthroughs of our new UI. We kept a close eye on whether our proposed solutions to common problems actually solved them as well as ensuring no new pain was created and assessing general levels of delight from the prototype in meeting the needs it was designed to fulfil.
How It Went
During these sessions we found some issues with the new proposed workflow and the concepts we introduced. We needed to clarify some language and consider some smaller placement optimisations that could be made to improve the overall journey.
The feedback generated in these sessions provoked some long follow up conversations with the participants and between ourselves. There were debates regarding the validity of some far edge cases and some frustrating moments when brainstorming replacement language to avoid confusion and spawning the dreaded internal acronyms!
After several follow up conversations, cycles of user testing, and changes to the prototype we arrived with an optimised, tested, validated and most importantly, improved design!
Utilising rapid prototyping as a tool to fuel our discovery process and continuously validate any and all changes we make has enabled us to not only create a user experience that addresses the challenges of its users, but also engages our users and generates a heightened level of personal investment in the system as a whole.