Task: A module to search and view reports. My Role: Lead UX Designer- User Research, Information Architecture, Wireframes, Prototypes, Documentation. Tools: Data Proxies, Contextual Inquiry, Axure.
Project Overview An important part of Back Office applications in the Financial Services Area are the archived reports created for clients at various points of time through out the day/month. These reports can be as frequent as three times a day to once a month. Our existing application has been around for 20 years, however the system only saves the last 5 days reports which means that individual users download and archive the reports everyday. Over a period of 20 years new report types have been added to the system; as an end result we had a complex report view which our clients were unable to navigate around, or find the right report at the right time and hence archiving the reports became a huge frustrating task at the end of day for them. Our goal was to simplify the task of archiving reports at the end of day for our user.
Process Domain Discovery The project kicked off with a meeting between me (UX designer) and the product owner. The product owner explained the complaints she had been receiving form the clients during client visits. The first step was to understand the task our users were trying to complete, I conducted a modified contextual inquiry with a user proxy - the product owner - who had spoken to the end users regarding their pain points. Based on the contextual inquiry we created the user journey and highlighted the major pain points observed. It is easy to get sucked into multiple deeper issues when dealing with enterprise applications and hence an important step was to define the scope of the project which was done over multiple discussions.
Early Ideas As I started putting together the user journey through more indepth discussions with the product owner; trying to understand the users motivations on when, why and how they used the reports. I discovered the reports were created on different days than the close of business day's data that was being reported on, this insight was key to solving the issue - The solution was to organize the reports based on the close of business day it was reporting on instead of the type of report and to create a new navigation based on the close of business date. Another challenge was the categorization of the reports. Organizing the reports categorization and figuring out the best hierarchy structure to make it easier for the users to find and download the right report. Based on those insights I created wireframes and improved them to create low fidelity mock up:
As the project continued I refined the designs and conducted weekly design reviews with the product owner and the team of developers explaining the reasons behind the decisions and getting feedback from the team.
Final Deliverable The final design was a high fidelity interactive prototype created in Axure and wiki documentation created to guide the team on the different categories of the reports.
Challenges: Working in an enterprise setup meant that there was a lack of access to end-users; so we used our Business Analysts and Product Owner as our user proxies for our user research. Another challenge faced was that the focus was on elements rather than experiences; the first few discussion were focused on where to place the buttons and check boxes. After two discussions it was evident that I had to change the technique and I started focusing on asking questions to get the Product owner to think about user motivations and keep away from the elements and design of the page and focus on the users pain points in the existing system.
Another challenge with such an extensive application is that no one person has all the information about how the reports are generated( from where specific data points were being retrieved) and there were even fewer with access to these secure backend services, which meant slowly and incrementally finding the right people who have the knowledge and access to these to figure out how and based on what conditions are reports created the specific edge cases and the exceptions.