WINDFARMER ANALYST: WIND-FARM LAYOUT APPLICATION
Project - Completely redesigned WPF experience for ageing desktop application
Product /service - Application used by wind farm developers to plan new sites prior to construction
Duration - 2 years
Team - Product owner, UX designer, tester, developers, domain expert advisors
Activities - Research, user journey mapping, product story mapping, concept design, usability testing
Deliverables - Personas and workflows, Product story map, Axure prototype, testing metrics
Outcome - Relaunched application with greatly improved sales, adoption, usability and customer interest
With very little team knowledge of existing users, and no precedent for professional design work, I began by running workshops to engage the sales team and define personas and user goals. Through user interviews and contextual inquiry, I mapped out workflows and tasks for each persona and evaluated performance of the existing product.
With user's goals and tasks outlined, I helped the product owner to visualise his ideas for an improved user interface through sketching. Advancing these ideas quickly into a range of concepts built upon our knowledge of users. Sketches allowed developers and stakeholders to join the discussion earlier than ever before.
The Agile development team had previously tried to use story mapping but struggled through lack of user knowledge. Research allowed us to populate a complete story map. A digital tool linked to the product backlog allowed developers to work directly from the map, increasing their awareness of user needs and design.
Balsamiq mockups allowed for quick iteration of UI concepts during an early design spike. The mockups served as drivers for discussion between designer, developers and product owner.
Developers needed a design vision to accompany the user stories delivered to them int he story map. As detailed design documentation doesn't suit Agile working methods, I settled on an interactive Axure prototype to communicate design intent to the team. This prototype was regularly updated throughout the project duration. It also allowed user testing from early project stages.
During development sprint cycles, the product owner and I would collaborate on deep-dive design activities to test concepts with users and /or refine designs. Below, Adobe Illustrator mockups showing a series of possible navigation controls being considered.
To communicate the design vision to senior stakeholders and key customers - both of whom needed to be invested in the project - I created and presented detailed Adobe Illustrator mockups, above showing the UI and communicating new data visualisations.
As the project progressed, I worked in design sprints that stayed 1-2 sprints ahead of development. I conducted user testing sessions on the new product, comparing it with the old to demonstrate improvements in usability, reduced time and error. Iterating the design in response to testing, I incorporated any new ideas into the Axure prototype ad updated the story map and backlog priorities together with the product owner.
Regular usability testing - first using Axure prototypes and then working software - proved to be a valuable way to track quality and measure subjective project goals like delivering an “intuitive” experience. I benchmarked against the old product to prove the new design saved time, reduced mistakes and that users were more enthusiastic to try it.
When the product was complete enough for user trials to begin, emphasis shifted to helping senior stakeholders to decide best use of budget and which features were required for release - effectively deciding what ‘done’ looked like.
I did this by user testing, benchmarking and facilitating a road-mapping workshop. Throughout these discussions, I was consulted with regards user needs and experience, having built up a rich understanding through research and testing.
Once released, the new product was quickly adopted by engineers around the company, eager to make use of the improved experience. It makes a measurable difference to their everyday work by saving them significant time and manual effort.
The new emphasis on visualisation of data has reduced error and enabled easier sharing and communication between users on the same project. DNV GL have also seen a renewed interest in the product from customers and project increased sales and reduced customer support calls.