Mission Control

 

Communicate proactively.

Enrich your journey with your clients.

 

 

Mission Control

 

Communicate proactively.

Enrich your journey with your clients.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

PROJECT OVERVIEW

Client                  Design on Tap (DoT) 
Role                    UX Researcher, UI/UX Design support
Methods           1:1 Semi-structured Interviews, Shadowing, Affinity Diagramming, Persona, Usability Testing
Deliverables      Research insights, High-fidelity mockups

Client                  Design on Tap (DoT) 
Role                    UX Researcher
Methods           1:1 Semi-structured Interviews, Shadowing, Affinity Diagramming, Persona, Usability Testing
Deliverables      Research insights, High-fidelity mockups

THE TRIGGER

THE TRIGGER

BACKGROUND

Design on Tap is a User Experience (UX) consultancy based in Indianapolis. They have many clients from diverse industries - healthcare, IT solution providers, business incubators, etc. It had just been few months since DoT shifted from a waterfall to an agile work flow and acquired a new engineering team. Joel Smith, one of the founders of DoT, always has his ears tuned to listening to the heart beat of the organization. He noticed that after this shift, communicating progress and requirements, in a timely manner, to his clients was getting difficult.

TRIGGER INCIDENT

A difficult client that DoT had to work with made Joel introspect about the company's process and that brought to light  other issues with the communication they had with their clients.

Clients were considering DoT as instructional workers than partners
They would want to make decisions regarding the solution without discussing the "Why"s. This hindered DoT from suggesting better alternatives for the decision made by the clients.

Conversations with the client were focussed on the minutiae
DoT did not have the bandwidth to communicate all the progress, pivots and requirements after they adopted agile UX and so most meetings focussed on the nitty-gritties of the solution and putting out fires. This left very less time for discussing higher, strategic goals.

There was no celebration
There was no acknowledgement of the efforts put in by the employees of DoT. The employees did not have a sense of how their contribution affected their clients. There was an additional air of dread in the work environment while working with the difficult client.

Joel eventually had to end the contract with that client to bring back the harmony in the workplace amongst his employees. This triggered the need for a tool that could help communicate all the information that the clients needed from DoT. 

COURSE OF ACTION

TL;DR : A lot of reading, talking and stalking.

INITIAL CONVERSATIONS

During our initial discussions about what Joel wants from us, he mentioned that his clients were finding it difficult to understand their new work process, which was an amalgamation of the best practices that he picked up from reading and experience. We spent most of our meetings with him, for almost 3 months, having very long conversations trying to understand their process in-and-out and the true nature of the problem in the communication between DoT and its clients.

chat
conversation

SEMI-STRUCTURED INTERVIEWS

There are four main points of contact between DoT and their clients - both the founders, the Client Operations Manager and the Lead Developer. I led the semi-structured interviews with each of them while my team helped me out with taking notes and asking any additional questions. The main purpose of these interviews were to get to know the communication process each person adopted, the tools they used for it and the situations where the process or any tool caused them inconveniences. 

FLY-ON-THE-WALL OBSERVATIONS

We sat in few of DoT's client meetings, which were held at their clients’ offices, as silent participants. It gave us a first-hand experience of their interactions with their clients without any bias of narration. Observing these meetings were also important because, due to timeline issues, this was the only way we could interact with the clients before starting to design solutions.

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ANALYSIS & REVELATIONS

AFFINITY DIAGRAMMING

Nothing can make you more uncomfortable than the process of transcribing interviews you’ve conducted, listening to yourself over and over again wondering “Is that what my laugh actually sounds like?” Once that trauma was dealt with, we started coding the transcripts with few key codes.

tpt

Internal
Any information regarding internal process or issues.

Client Issues
Regarding client issues from both clients' and DoT's side.

Communication (Client)
Regarding only the communication aspects with the client.

Value
Regarding the values that DoT cherished.

Concerns/Considerations for Notifier
Regarding information that could be a potential feature in the solution (the project was nicknamed “Notifier”)

Internal
Any information regarding internal process or issues.

Client Issues
Regarding client issues from both clients' and DoT's side.

Communication (Client)
Regarding only the communication aspects with the client.

Value
Regarding the values that DoT cherished.

Concerns/Considerations for Notifier
Regarding information that could be a potential feature in the solution (the project was nicknamed “Notifier”)

Once the coding was complete, we transferred the key information to sticky notes to group similar stickies and find themes.

Affinity Main

Affinity Diagram of the Semi-Structured Interviews conducted with Client Operations Manager (Teal) and Lead Developer (Dark Blue)

TOP - LEVEL NODES

The top-level nodes in the affinity diagram are the themes that emerge from grouping similar data in the sticky notes. In this case, the most pressing needs or issues that DoT has with their clients. 

Affinity Top-Level

Top-level nodes from the affinity diagram that are the most important needs of Design on Tap

Changing perception and mindset

Group 3
Group 4

Some of DoT's clients, who were more used to agencies working in the traditional watefall model, were not comfortable with so many pivots in the plan, caused by new findings from research, after each sprint cycle.

Clients often ask DoT to change or add features without telling them why it is needed. Without understanding the "why" it becomes difficult to implement the feature to its best capability or suggest better alternatives.

Showing progress

Outcomes and Missions

Design on Tap's work breakdown from high-level outcomes to tasks

Outcomes
Missions
Stories
Tasks

Outcomes
The goals that clients want to acheive with DoTs help

Missions
These are sub-goals that help DoT achieve the Outcomes

Stories
A collection of stories help accomplish a mission

Tasks
A set of tasks are to be completed to finish a story


The goals that clients want to acheive with DoTs help
These are sub-goals that help DoT achieve the Outcomes
A collection of stories help accomplish a mission
A set of tasks are to be completed to finish a story

When Design on Tap first meets their client, they decide the Outcomes that the clients want to achieve. Each client can have multiple outcomes but DoT works on only one Outcome at a time. The Missions, Stories and Tasks are later decided by Joel and the rest of the employees in DoT.

Group 8
Group 7

DoT uses Target Process, a Project Management Software to show the completed and estimated work to be done. Giving clients access to Target Process caused a lot of confusion in their work flow.

Since clients could only see progress through stories on Target Process, the conversations revolved around the granular details of the project. DoT want to change the focus to higher-level strategic conversations. 

Group 5 (1)
Group 6

The point of contact from the client side varies from people in managerial roles (sales or marketing) to C-suite executives. C-suite executives care about the money and ROI. Managerial level employees care about more granular details - metrics, progress made, etc.

Currently, DoT was not performing any post-launch analytics on the outcomes they achieved with each client and so it was difficult for them to "close the loop" to show their progress and the value that they bring in after each outcome.

Better Communication

Group 9
  • Email threads were becoming too long and dense, important information was getting lost.
  • DoT was using a smorgasbord of application to communicate internally also, since the engineering team was recently acquired and Design and Dev were yet to find common ground. (Target Process, Slack, Trello, Sunrise, Bootcamp, InVision comments)
  • Documentation and reporting was not effective since nobody has the bandwidth to do it.

Design on Tap, wanted a single repository to share documents and communicate feedback in so that information retrieval was easier and information would be documented effectively. 

PERSONAS

Persona depicting Design on Tap's struggle and the new possibilities that opened up to them with the help of our potential solution "Mission Control".

The data for this came from the several interviews and discussions with DoT.

Persona depicting Design on Tap's struggle and the new possibilities that opened up to them with the help of our potential solution "Mission Control".

The data for this came from the several interviews and discussions with DoT.

Persona depicting Design on Tap's clients' struggles and requirements and how our potential solution helps them manage working with DoT.

The data for this persona came from client interviews that Design on Tap had previously conducted with their clients and from observing client meetings.

Persona depicting Design on Tap's clients' struggles and requirements and how our potential solution helps them manage working with DoT.

The data for this persona came from client interviews that Design on Tap had previously conducted with their clients and from observing client meetings.

Jeff Dunn
Group 6.1

TOP 5 REQUIREMENTS

Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 10.25.04 AM

To convert the insights we got from analyzing all the data we collected, we followed a process of listing down each requirement and coming up with a list of features that could fulfil each requirement. We would then debate amongst each other about the effectiveness of each feature to decide which features would stay.

tasks

Tracking progress of the current missions that are being worked on so that DoT can show a visual indication of how far along they have come and the pending work to achieve the outcome.

effort

Intuitively conveying the efforts spent on a project so that clients don’t feel like work isn’t being done when there are no clear deliverables, like during the research phase.

deadline

The client has to be made aware of the consequences of unplanned requests, delays caused which don’t help in working towards completing the mission or achieving the outcome.

Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 10.42.13 AM

Sometimes, their clients themselves are impeding progress because they take time to provide resources requested by DoT. There is a need to show when someone is being a blocker.

document

Everything related to the client, documents, assets, account details, comments, issues, etc., should be consolidated and easily available in one common repository for easy sharing of information and exchange of feedback.

IDEATION

TL;DR : I was working along with two designers to contemplate, ruminate and doodle.

CHANNELS TO CONSIDER

desktop

Desktop
For DoT and most of their clients, work is primarily done on the desktop so they need not switch between devices to access and transfer information and resources.

smartphone

Smartphone
Allows quick access of just enough information to share with the client or for the client to share it with someone else, without having to login and look for the information.

smartwatch

Smart Watch
Push notifications for major updates and important information can be sent to the client.

We decided to eliminate the smart watch because

  1. Not all clients used a smart watch
  2. It does not allow for any specific functionality to satisfy the requirements that the other two channels cannot provide.

Later in the usability testings we learnt that clients do not want push notifications at all.

SKETCHES

We explored solutions for a web tool and a smartphone assistant. Taking time and efforts spent on implementing the solution into consideration, we narrowed it down to two options.

DoT Notifier

Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 11.37.40 AM

A dashboard and notifier to track, visualize project progress and notify clients with updates. The dashboard gives a project overview with basic details. It also allows for the user to dig in and see more detailed information if needed.

DoT Smart Assistant

Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 11.38.18 AM

A mobile chat bot that will provide weekly progress report to the client as well as solve some of the queries that the client may have. The progress is tracked with how tasks/user stories were completed, how many assets were created and how many hours of efforts were put into the project in a given week.

After presenting all our ideas to Joel, he found DoT Notifier to be the easiest to implement and most effective so we decided to explore that option further.

IMG_0325

We started out by identifying few basic features that we can sketch:

  • A Dashboard to represent all the metrics that DoT would like their client to see. 
  • Dependency checks to ensure no one is being a blocker
  • A common file repository to exchange documents and feedback
Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 11.43.21 AM
  • The dashboard provides information about what stage the project is at, for example, in the sketch, the project is in Task 2, in the review phase.
  • The deadline for that is Feb 17 and up until now, 972 hours of effort has been spent on the project.
  • All the files related to the project in under Files
  • The people working on the project can also be accessed from the side menu.
Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 11.43.31 AM

To further show the efforts that are being put into a project, the client can also see the stories completes, issues raised that were resolved and how many times the deadlines were met during that project. 

Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 11.37.49 AM
  • DoT employees and clients can see a flow chart representation of the tasks assigned in a particular phase and the dependencies they create on each other.
  • Each element has task name, task owner details and task progress indicator. Clicking on the element will expand the card to reveal more details about that particular task
Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 11.38.05 AM

After each Mission is completed, clients can also see the post launch metrics and DoT can use this data to show existing and potential clients the value they bring into the organization.

Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 11.43.40 AM

We also decided to create a calender view of upcoming meetings and deadlines with a provision to upload meeting notes and highlights since the information from client meetings were not being shared effectively to all the employees. 

FEEDBACK AND INITIAL PROTOYPE

FEEDBACK AND
INITIAL PROTOYPE

We presented these sketches to Joel and he suggested

  • Task dependency would be a complicated flow to create because of the dynamic nature in which they work.
  • He wanted the common file repository to be the least of the priority since they were using Dropbox Paper and they didn't want development to spend too much efforts on that.
  • They didn't collect post launch metrics yet so that feature was also of less priority.
  • He wanted the progress to be represented in a more humane way and came up with phases like Struggling, Disoriented, Eager, Tentative and Validated to represent the state of the project than something like "Task 2 : Review"

With these suggestions in mind we decided to create the initial prototype.

Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 12.43.55 PM
Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 12.44.07 PM
Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 12.44.22 PM

Onboarding process for clients to understand what each phase label means and how the tool can help them.

Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 12.44.33 PM

Details of a missions, what the mission is trying to achieve, progress, deadline, etc.

Details of a missions, what the mission is trying to achieve, progress, deadline, etc.

Overview of ongoing Missions.

Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 12.44.44 PM

The efforts are tied down to the stories under each missions.

Overview of one particular Mission.

Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 12.44.56 PM

Meeting-related information. 

DEMO GROUP FEEDBACK

Joel decided that the entire DoT team should review the initial prototype so we presented the designs to them at the office. The insights we received from the demo are:

  • The DoT team found the labels in the Mission Journey unintuitive since they work with more tangible metrics and there was a confusion about when exactly would the phase change from "Struggling" to "Disoriented" and what it would mean to the client.
  • The application is currently designed for an idealized way working, many pivots occur, deadlines change - a history of these changes will be a helpful feature
  • A better way to represent the progress is needed since work is not done linearly so progress is not made linearly,  should make going back to the start and researching “feel okay” than what a change to 30% progress from 70% would convey.

USABILITY TESTING

After incorporating the feedback from the demo session we were ready to conduct usability tests with DoT's clients. We interviewed 5 clients in 3 days but we left gaps in between those days to incorporate the feedback from each session. These tests weremainly conducted to assess clients' needs and if the initial concept was fulfilling them than to test the functionality of the product.

I scripted two scenarios for the tasks that the clients were supposed to perform.

SCENARIO 1 

onboarding

You are ABC LLC, after your initial meeting with Design on Tap, Joel gives you access to Mission Control Using the credentials, please log in to your account. After going through onboarding screens, can you find out what the current status of the project is?

SCENARIO 2

storyDetails

It has been few months since you have started working with Design on Tap, although it seems like the work in going in the right direction every time you meet the Design on Tap team, you have not received a lot of deliverables yet. You wish to check how much work the team has put into your project as of now.

The test consisted of an initial interview with open-ended questions about their experience with Design on Tap, after explaining the test and obtaining their consent, the participants were asked to go through the tasks, thinking out loud. They were requested to fill a post-test questionnaire also which helped us calculate SUS scores. 

USABILITY TEST DETAILS

Venue
Duration
Number of Participants
Type of Participants
Type of Test

Venue
Design on Tap's office (using UberConference if remote)

Duration
30-45 mins

Number of Participants
5

Type of Participants
CEOs, Product Managers, Sales Managers

Type of Test
Remote and in-person, moderated testsllow edit icon.


Design on Tap's office (using UberConference if remote)
30-45 mins
5
CEOs, Product Managers, Sales Managers
Remote and in-person, moderated testsllow edit icon.

PARTICIPANTS' COMMENTS

Day 1

PARTICIPANTS' COMMENTS

Day 1

Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 1.28.55 PM

Terms like “Stories”, “Missions”, “Outcomes” don’t make sense for clients who have been in the industry for long. 
Why not just call them tasks? 
These terms are too millennial-y.

Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 1.29.17 PM

I don’t want communication to be between me and an application, I want a meeting or a phone call, I see no value in this application.

Day 2 & 3

Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 1.29.03 PM

Having all this information, especially Efforts and  “To-Do ” helps us a lot in knowing what to expect from DoT and what DoT expects from us

Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 1.29.33 PM

This information is pretty useful when I need to talk to my managers about the progress being made.

As evident in the participant comments, after incorporating the feedback from the first usability test sessions the clients were more receptive to using the application and found it useful.

OBSERVATIONS

  • Navigation was not intuitive, participants didn’t notice the breadcrumbs and kept searching for a back button
  • The terms Missions and Outcomes were not clear to most of the participants
  • All participants needed prompting to complete Task 2
  • All participants did not understand what the Highlights page was for

CHANGES DURING AND AFTER USABILITY TESTING

onboarding (1)

The onboarding was changed from explaining the Missions Journey labels to just what the tool can help the client with.

Meeting


The layout for the Meeting Details page was changed since no participant could understand what it was for.

 

The layout for the Meeting Details page was changed since no participant could understand what it was for.

uploadFile

A new To-Do feature was added which the clients found very useful. They mentioned that many times they do not understand what Design on Tap is expecting from them and this feature let them proactively provide whatever was needed from them.

FOR THE FUTURE

FOR THE FUTURE

  • Improve navigation since most clients did not find the breadcrumbs intuitive, they wanted back buttons.
  • Brainstorm on more ways to tie outcomes to missions and change clients’ focus towards the bigger picture.
  • Test with more clients.

CHALLENGES ALONG THE WAY

  • Limited exposure to different perspectives before designing since we primarily spoke to Joel and his own visions for the company's identity were evolving along with our research which caused a lot of difficulties in writing the copy of the application. 
  • DoT's clients were not available before we started conducting the usability tests and so the initial design was lacking their voice.
  • Time and budget constraints since DoT does not have the bandwidth to let their developers spend too much time on an internal project.

THE TEAM

beninterview
Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 2.25.32 PM
00100dPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20180427150828742_COVER
1544481015024_DSC_3036 (1)

My biggest assets were the the founder of Design on Tap for giving the team the necessary resources for the research to the best of his abilities and the two designers I worked with who helped me by being extra pairs of eyes, ears and hands as I conducted the research. The challenges and contraints we had to deal with seemed less daunting thanks to their support.

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