I was brought in to lead the user experience efforts in a complete revamp of a group of disparate call center software products. The goal was to bring each of them into a suite of enterprise level applications that either worked as stand alone items or integrated seamlessly with one another in a common framework that provided a consistent and intuitive user experience.
Although the technology wasn't clearly defined at the onset of the project it was ultimately built out as a MS Windows thin client. Updates could be pushed out easier and it granted a much richer experience for the user in 2005 than could be provided through a web application.
This was such a wide open project and I had so much to learn, not only about the software and business requirements, but the industry as a whole. I started by talking to users and gathering insights about their backgrounds, their work environments, and the tasks they performed day to day. Other data was gathered from industry publications and marketing sources within the company.
When it came to understanding the business side, I partnered with many different areas within the organization to learn about what we needed to achieve. Product management, sales, marketing, and of course the different development teams all had inputs and limitations to take into account. One of my closest allies in this process was very technical and she served as a business analyst as we started diving into the details.
One of the next steps was to go through in detail and understand the different tasks the user would need to be able to perform in the system. There were many, and the detail needed to complete some of them could be tedious.
This process began with identifying all the tasks, grouping them and then ranking them using a grid system. High frequency/many users ranked as a one, and low frequency/few users ranked as a four.
Another thing that I had to take into account were all of the ways the different products could relate with one another. I had to start the discovery process on how to tie them together in a way that made sense to the user, but keep them from being dependent on one another if permissions or licensing prevented a user from access to certain areas.
I held many design sessions with multitudes of whiteboard sketches from a high level down into specific details. Inspired by a Nightline segment Ted Koppel had done on IDEO a few years earlier, I held a lunch session where I shared the video.
Later that week, there were more than a few heads turned wondering what in the world I was doing carrying Nerf guns, bouncy balls, and stretchy toys into the conference room that was my frequent reservation. We soon began incorporating and adapting some of the creative processes they utilized to build great products. Would it work for software too?
The sessions were fun, everyone wanted to participate, and new ways of doing things were discovered. It was a win!
The rubber chicken? Well, if things got too rowdy, we utilized a rule where you couldn't talk unless you were holding it.
Once there was a general direction established through ideation, I built wireframes to present to key members of the technology teams to get feedback, fill gaps, and iterate new versions.
UI and Visual Design
Once the foundation was set and all thumbs were pointing up, the details on the UI and visual design started taking place. It was important to the business that the application carry the brand forward and represent well on sales calls. Of course this was important to me too, but my mind kept going back to the people in the call center who would be interacting with these screens every day. Ultimately the experience we were creating was for them.
Documentation and Guidelines
As the project progressed and we built out additional product and feature areas, it was important to provide guidance for development regarding the usage and style of the UI elements. My team created a base document that outlined the framework and general guidelines for color, type, size and spacing. We also added additional style guides as needed for other functional areas.
Style Guide Samples
The features and functionality of this enterprise application were greatly expanded to incorporate the latest technologies in speech analytics and trend analysis. These advances helped nearly half of Fortune 100 companies better understand their customer wants and needs and measure how effectively these needs were met. The revamped and rebranded application was met with great enthusiasm and has since won many industry awards.