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My Story

How did I make my team understand that User Experience design was about much more than interface improvements?

 

In 2020, I was hired to improve the interface of a learning platform that “wasn’t compliant with the company’s brand guidelines”. The product team I joined had eight engineers, two managers, and no previous experience working with a UX designer. I knew my job would be about uncovering many, more significant problems. But what were they?

Phase 1

You can’t solve problems you don’t know to exist

 

The first thing I did was to dig into the existing knowledge about the people who used the platform. Who were they, what were they trying to do, and how.

Besides listening to product managers, I used the office’s whiteboard to gather people around me to ask them questions. Strategizer’s Value Proposition canvases came in handy. Three remarkable points emerged:

  • Most of the platform was developed around internal admins’ requests instead of students,  who represent more than 90% of the user base.

  • Project managers and developers weren’t given access to users or their feedback. Hence knowledge about their pains or needs was almost inexistent. My team had no way of knowing why they should be building the things they were being asked

  • user engagement in the platform wasn’t measured. Only customer support was reporting some Problems with the experience, which resulted in a lack of strategy for growth. The team could not know if they were building the right things the right way!

 

Using various feedback tools, I ensured we provided multiple accessible ways for students and admins to provide my team with their feedback. In addition, we launched a couple of surveys to uncover any user pains or things in the platform that could be made more accessible. 

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The problems started to emerge. But I had to buy myself some time before I could sell my team a large UX improvement plan. Addressing the obvious visual problems in the interface was urgent. And with this task, we began Phase 1 of our UX journey. Watching the platform become more pleasant to the eye put a smile on everyone’s face.

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Phase 2

Understanding the top priorities of the majority of users

After creating the user feedback channels, the team started understanding that the platform had flaws and that much work was needed to get things right.
But what should we start with first?

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Looking into our platform’s internal data on its usage, we cross-referenced it with what our surveys gathered and could pull out the list of our users’ jobs to be done.
Addressing the problems in the most popular features was the biggest priority. We were now entering our UX journey’s second phase.

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