analysis + strategy + design
The team for a newly acquired product was charged to create an enterprise web-based version inspired by the intent of the desktop tool (real-time data visualization/dashboard). The team was expected to expand the product from supporting one specific user group in one specific industry to support enterprise workflows and user ecosystems. The team decided they wanted this new product to be UX-driven. This was new to the team and TIBCO.
ROLE
Contract Interaction Design Manager
Product Design + Strategy and Project Management
I was brought in to lead the effort to define and design the new product. I proposed and led all activities, directed and mentored an intern for part of the design (Summer intern), represented the product locally, and collaborated with the technical team to ensure an efficient and effective effort.
I also represented the product who was based in Boston in the Palo Alto office.
THE CHALLENGE
Since the UX-driven approach was new to TIBCO, and the team understood and expected a certain value in this approach, no one really knew what that meant in reality. My strategy was to work very collaboratively and empower the team to understand and communicate the differences and participate in defining the approach.
We began by defining the problem space we would be working with by identifying the objectives, goals, considerations and ideas upfront to ensure we worked efficiently and effectively.
Create a tool that sets, and continuously (and quickly) resets the industry standard
Expand the offering to include support for the eco-systems of users, workflows, the organizational needs of enterprise organizations supporting many verticals and horizontals
Create an intuitive tool for non-dashboard and analytics people
Ensure that a technical foundation is set that doesn't inhibit the user experience while continuing it to expand efficiently.
Collaborative activities were conducted in every phase (including planning) and facet of the strategy to ensure a voice for the team, and a unified understanding. The first week was spent understanding the original vision and product, business goals and objectives, success matrix, and user knowledge and assumptions.
THE PRODUCT APPROACH
I outlined an approach and schedule for meeting the objective of setting the bar in what real-time data dashboards are and do, and then how to continuously reset the bar. This meant keeping on top of competitors and influencers within the space, availability of real-time data, as well as opportunities from user and business perspectives. This communicated the level of effort, team skills, and team roles and size needed to establish and maintain the status.
Because a UX-driven approach was new to the organization, activities and timeline were defined at a high-level to formalize how the team intended to move forward to meet objective goals with a nod that we must be flexible while maintaining our approach, and consciously deviating or revising.
THE APPROACH
I recommended, and the team agreed, we needed to establish a Product Strategy – A unified vision of what needs to be built, and how it needs to be used in order for business goals to be realized. This included identifying baseline product, features, and experience, and define a competitive and leadership definition of the product, features, and experience to begin to scope and prioritize the focus of the team with a vision of where the product is heading. This created excitement and confidence within the team while communicating to TIBCO how the newly acquired team (start-up) was working and the vision for the product.
This strategy would be revisited biannually with quarterly analysis activities (defined above).
The technical team used this vision to inform their technical strategy and was able to begin work on the architecture to ensure the architecture would not limit or degrade the user experience while the detailed design is fleshed out.
The UX Approach
I recommended, and the team agreed, we needed to establish a Product Strategy- A unified vision of what needs to be built, and how it needs to be used in order for business goals to be realized. This included identifying baseline product, features, and experience, and define a competitive and leadership definition of the product, features, and experience to begin to scope and prioritize the focus of the team with a vision of where the product is heading. This created excitement and confidence within the team while communicating to TIBCO how the newly acquired team (start-up) was working and the vision for the product.
This strategy would be revisited biannually with quarterly analysis activities (defined above).
The technical team used this vision to inform their technical strategyand was able to begin work on the architecture to ensure the architecture would not limit or degrade the user experience while the detailed design is fleshed out.
Product Strategy kick-off effort included:
Formalized business objectives and goals for the product (usability, relevance, targeted verticals and horizontals, technical);
Defined the approach, activities, and priorities utilizing the User Experience priorities required to meet business objectives and goals;
Defined product roadmap prioritized to business goals and product adoption strategy;
Identified initial targeted user groups and tasks to expand the team's understanding of the new world - create personas and task models and their design implications to generate requirements;
Identified the usability and usefulness of visualizations to inform interactions and design patterns to facilitate learning;
Defined a strawman sub-brand to capture the desired product personality and experience direction through workshops with product team;
Identified and understand competitors and influencers;
Established an approach to facilitating learning by harnessing Emotional Design, usability, and learning principles;
Engaged the team to form a vortex of innovative thinking for the product and technical strategy; and
Established the direction of the work by defining and prioritizing the features and experiences including conceptual design.
User Tasks Models were defined to depict the cognitive experience, as well as the flexibility needed to support the ecosystem of users and their diverse mental models.
THE RESULT
The Discovery or - Defining Problem Space activities revealed opportunities to distinguish this new product in terms of contemporary features, interaction design patterns, usefulness, and usability.
The technical team was able to inform their technical strategy and include "hooks" in their foundation that will allow them to efficiently and effectively expand the tool.
We defined the experience, sub-brand, and feature requirements to give direction to visual design and technical strategy including a full-grid design to ensure a useful and visually pleasing appearance with a plug-n-play approach to components;
Conducted iterative design sessions and reviews to flesh out original concepts and bring them to a level that the team was comfortable with and helped them envision the technical foundation;
Harnessed my previous User Research and Testing experience with Fortune 50, 100, 500 and Federal Agencies enterprise projects to define user groups and task models that reflected the diversity, flexibility and/or control different verticals, horizontals, and organizations need; and
Versions of a leading, competitive product were established, with a beta-version pending technical scoping of the server.
Final mock-ups not available due to NDA.
Exploring the usefulness and usability of visualizations with this type of data began with analysis of each visualizations' usefulness and usability considerations and then iterating to find specific patterns for the user to select and then manipulate. Example of a "Sandbox" for bar chart and its interactions. I worked remotely with the product manager based Boston to iterate on designs.
The original wireframes were completed using established wireframe template of UX dept but the technical complained about the usability of the templates. After understanding how the tech team was reading the wireframes, the wireframes and annotations were moved to the wiki. This allowed the product definition, background, research, wireframes/annotations, and later visual design and copy to be added to create holistic documentation rather than each team creating their own.
An important feature was the Welcome Dashboard. The initial dashboard is responsible for facilitating a sense of success, communicate its relevance, and facilitate first use by harnessing emotional design and learnable IxD patterns.
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