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UX in a startup

Everyone wants beautiful design that fits the product vision, but there's a lot of hard work happening backstage. In this section I describe how we implemented user-centric design principles whilst staying lean. The chosen case study is our Scheduling feature.

 

Problem: projects and people Scheduling

Problem: projects and people Scheduling

After performing user interviews, it became apparent that a great pain for many Project Managers is the inability to find a tool that provides an integrated experience for planning work and managing their resources' calendars.

The team had already worked in a scheduling feature for an earlier iteration of the product, but it was isolated from the work planning part of the app, so it didn't solve the users' most pressing concerns.

Research: Personas and Scenarios

Research: Personas and Scenarios

Based on the early interviews I created a set of initial personas, which I would refine as I learnt more about the detailed nuances of PMs lives.

 

Process map

Process map

Through these interviews, and contextual research, we created an "ideal project life-cycle" and mapped which personas were involved at what stages as well as all the pain points as opportunities for an app.

Scheduling

Scheduling

Also from the interviews, I created some user narratives, focused on the problems of a resource manager, to take to the ideation meetings that I had with my team

Co-creation

Co-creation

It was important to extract knowledge from the team members, who had worked in the tool for years. But they struggled to get out of their developers mindset, so I created a set of activities that would encourage them to think about the problem first, and stop proposing solutions. We had some improv icebreakers to get them to think creatively and then I used the personas and scenarios to anchor them. We had two sessions of HMW and then aggregated the questions into themes by affinity mapping.

Scenario Mapping

Scenario Mapping

Based on the personas and the themes from the ideation sessions, we divided the user needs into goals-activities and tasks. We mapped the activities step by step, imagining an ideal system.

Sketchning and wireframing

Sketchning and wireframing

Over a month, I collaborated closely with the Tech Lead on building the feature. We intended to work Lean, so I produced few initial hi-fi prototypes in Sketch to guide his vision, and then, the rest were paper sketches to illustrate and guide our conversations.

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A working prototype

A working prototype

The Tech Lead quickly put together a working prototype that I put in front of users. It addressed the overall concern of bridging the gap between the work planning and people scheduling, without getting into the finer details yet.

Quick Booking

Quick Booking

During the user testing sessions, it quickly surfaced that PMs wanted something more goal-based than a mere calendar with pointers to projects. So, I took inspiration from the airline booking systems to create the Quick Booking functionality, where the PM enters a project name and set of skills and get a list of available team members for that period

Results & Learnings

Results & Learnings

The Quick Booking is one of the major selling points of our app, but still needs to be further refined.