Kicking off a mobile user experience program

The client:  Roads and Transport Authority, Government of Dubai

The brief:  the RTA engaged IBM to deliver a very large multi-vendor program of work to mobile-enable & transform 165 RTA services, as part of its “Smart Goverment” initiative. A “common shell” mobile structure & interaction pattern was envisaged to help streamline the design & development of the mobile app suite. The client sponsor also wanted to rapidly engage and enthuse senior stakeholders to rapidly mobilise their contribution to the program of work.

My role:  User experience stream lead

Activities:  I was engaged to set up the user experience stream of the project. It was critical to engage senior RTA department heads, who wished to take an active role in shaping the mobile user experience their departments would deliver to customers.

To this end, I designed and led a customer experience goals workshop. Using a series of “gamestorming” activities, the participants collaboratively identified long-term cx goals for their app and the services they could offer through it.

Workshop participants having fun with a design the box task.
Workshop participants having fun with a design the box task.

The group identified current customer pain points and key opportunities for the RTA to deliver a better experience and more streamlined self service.

Behaviour design cards ready for the workshop.
Behaviour design cards ready for the workshop.

In another workshop with senior stakeholders, I had the participants work to define customer behaviours they wished to target and encourage via their apps, using Brains, Behavior and Design toolkit cards. These are most effective at helping identify specific types of behaviour change that can be supported via design.

Later, I worked closely with the IBM visual designer to produce visual design mock ups to show the client, setting expectations for the design elements which would need to be present in each of the apps.

For the Common Shell app, I developed the information architecture and sample interactions in clickable Axure wireframes, which we then used for cognitive walkthroughs with the client. The visual designer then used these to create visual design comps for the common app elements.

Finally, my role involved coaching a team of young IBM ux designers and business analysts who were starting work on the app services designs. The team received mentoring and practical experience learning the fundamentals of IA, mobile forms, and interaction design.

The outcome:  A subsequent phases of the project delivered the first few of the planned mobile apps, with more currently in progress.


Predicting sports injury risk

The client:  our client was the NSW Waratahs Rugby Union team

The brief:  The Waratahs, as part of IBM’s sponsorship, had begin to use IBM’s predictive analytics technology to analyse a range of data gathered on player’s training and playing performance. IBM Interactive designed a prototype app to show how the data, and player injury risk markers, could be effectively visualised to assist the coaching team to better manage player training regimes.

My role:  User experience designer.

Activities:  I first worked with the IBM data scientist, to learn about the player GPS and training data which was being gathered and analysed. To better understand the users, I interviewed members of the Waratah’s coaching and athletic development team.

From sketches, to wireframes and detailed designs.
From sketches, to wireframes and detailed designs.

Using the coach’s input on which aspects of the data best indicated looming injury, and how he currently gathered indications of injury risk for the team, and for individual players, I sketched a variety of design concepts, then created simple wireframes, which I then walked through with the Waratah’s altheltic development team.  The visual designer then further developed the concepts into finished visual designs, and eventually into a clickable HTML prototype.

The outcome:  The prototype was developed, with real data from the previous season, to illustrate a high-fidelity app concept using real predictive analytics features.   A short video launching the project.

Lightweight usability testing

The client:  our client was the Wealth division of one of the “big four” Australian banks.

The brief:  In this stage of our project, we had worked to iteratively develop a high-fidelity clickable prototype of our tablet app. We had previously used simple clickable wireframes to test the design concepts with users (Financial Advisers), and now it was time to get something more realistic in front of them, and see how they might use the app in their interactions with their customers.

My role:  I led the usability testing effort during this stage of the project.

Activities:  I need to set up a usability testing approach which was cheap, flexible, and fast to set up. No big expensive lab, no two-way mirrors. As a consultant I need to keep the process nimble. And not cost the customer a fortune. We needed to test our app with real Financial Advisers, but also simulate what it would be like for them as they used the app while they talked to their customers.  The best reason for this type of testing is that the team get to meet their users: they observe their users with the solution, and they develop a deep understanding of what their users need from the it.

The set up I chose involved using a large, well-appointed conference room on the client site, together with an adjoining small meeting room. In the small room we had the Financial Adviser, who would use the app, and a client stakeholder or project team member playing the role of “customer”. I ran tests with a total of 10 Advisors. In the large conference room we gathered my user experience team to observe remotely, take notes of issues during live sessions,  and identify potential solutions.

To record the usability tests, I used:

The observation room
The observation room
  • My standard-issue IBM laptop, running Skype and Camtasia (screen recording software)
  • My iPhone, running a Skype call back to my laptop
  • A wifi dongle thingy, so the iPad, phone and laptop could all share a connection
  • My old tripod, and a big chunk of bluetac (to attach the phone to the tripod. You could also go crazy and buy a proper tripod mount)
  • iPad running the prototype application
  • Software for mirroring the iPad to my laptop
  • Camtasia software, to record the laptop screen & audio, showing the user’s iPad, the user, and audio from the test room
  • Some desktop speakers, so the people in the observation room could clearly hear what was happening in the test room (computer speakers aren’t up to scratch)
A peek into the testing room

I developed a usability test script so that the Adviser testing participants could take their “customer” through a simulation of a typical insurance needs discussion, while using the iPad app.
The team were able to watch each session live, and rapidly identify design improvements.

The outcome:  By being able to observe how Advisers used the prototype app while they interacted with their “customers”, the design team gained further insight into the practical realities of the task, and how the app design helped or hindered the interaction. The fast & lightweight setup meant that we gained a lot of useful feedback very quickly and inexpensively. By participating with the design team, client stakeholders also came to understand the intended user experience more deeply.

Visioning engagement for a finance client

The client:  our client was the Wealth division of one of the “big four” Australian banks.

The brief:  the client engaged IBM to conduct an “accelerated visioning” engagement. Recognising the huge untapped potential of the unadvised market, our client wanted to explore ways in which a new consumer app might help shape customers’ attitudes and behaviour regarding wealth, help them be more self-directed, and ultimately assist customers to seek financial advice through a variety of channels.

My role:  Senior User Experience Designer

Activities:  the client had already conducted extensive consumer research and had developed wealth consumer personas, and were now keen to gain a better understanding of their Adviser’s perspective on the factors which hinder greater uptake of advice services. I led a user research effort, involving in-context interviews and observations of a range of Wealth Advisers. Our analysis of the interviews produced several key insights which were the fed into the subsequent visioning workshop.

Feature prioritising in progress

I co-designed and co-facilitated the two-day Visioning Workshop, in which senior client stakeholders participated to identify user experience objectives for the app, and to generate and prioritise desired features. I designed and led a behaviour design session, using the Brains, Behavior & Design toolkit, to help the group identify specific customer behaviours the client wished to encourage.

The outcome: the Accelerated Visioning engagement led to a phase two engagement, the Insurance Adviser proof of concept <link>.