A digital platform for partnership monitoring — Design Thinking and UX
A great friend of mine sent me a message one day saying “Hey Fernanda, a guy who I’m working with is looking for someone that knows how to use software 01, software 02. You know these, don’t you? I was thinking of recommending you for the job.” “Yes, I do know. Recommend me, please! :)” was my reply. Within hours I had my new-to-be-boss on the phone. I didn’t have much experience, but I committed all my interest. Recommendations have this impact as well, don’t they? Especially if comes from a good friend. More than anything, you want to make them proud! And so did I!
My friend is a UX Researcher, and he was the one using the interesting techniques that caught my attention. My very first day wasn’t in the office in which I should work; instead, my boss sent me to the office of the company that hired us. I arrived a bit early and waited for my friend (and at that time colleague) since I knew anything about that particular activity. I knew I would prototype something following his researching step.
The room was full of people when we both arrived. Some of them were talking about things I couldn’t understand. Some people seemed to be used to participate in meetings, and they were in that mode. When the time came, my friend took control and explained our agenda for the day. Looking back, I didn’t know that my life would change forever from that meeting.
We had activities with time to start and end, we had plenty of yellow stickers, we had giant white pages… And I got more and more puzzled. We left that room with papers, notes, recordings, and many more materials for our project. We had a huge number of stakeholders to help and a long list of things to do.
I remember looking at those papers and transforming them into useful information, summarising, seeing the gaps. I was then introduced to the system they had. It was an old-looking system that everybody kept complaining about. The stakeholders’ map was huge, the pain points list was endless, but the ideas were profuse as well. Some of the user needs that were identified:
• Reports with graphics
• More enjoyable fonts and colours with more contrast
• Manuals and alerts
• Bigger images and fonts
• Indicators of system changes
• Integrations with other systems
The team used Design Thinking as a methodology to support decisions through intense participation from the stakeholders to generate insights; it was following Stickdorn & Schneider (2014) model.
After the information was gathered from reports and data, I created the low fidelity prototype to validate the concepts. I did some initial sketching on paper with a pen and finalize it by wireframing it digitally.
For one year, I had the opportunity to refine and understand processes with a high level of complexity. Also, in this system, I contributed to coding.
According to the users, the reliability of the system increased. 30 calls about how to use the system (per month, on average). However, those numbers were not related to the new functionalities of the system:
- 40% of the callings were about the input process due to users’ inaccurate data.
- 17% were about the login process as change password. A process executed out of the system*. (* The administration of the partnership is responsible for that)
The final report suggests then that critical problems regarding usability indeed were solved, although it would require more testing sessions and more data to understand the points of friction and how to improve them. We had worked on more than 60 screens, with a heavy amount of data in the majority of them.
The project was a huge system that could have been much benefited from testing sessions. The data gathered within the support team, however, is a great indicative that important achievements were made. Another aspect is that the weekly reports and meetings with the users helped immensely to shape the system in a way to facilitate their tasks. More extensive research could be done to understand more in-depth the language and how to synthesise information more efficiently and consistently. The system language and forms were based on contracts required for formalizing those partnerships between government and health units that were already in use. Aesthetically it could have been more explored and defined less by the Bootstrap interface, as it was required (especially because of time constraints). I dare to say that a design system could be an amazing path to go in the future.
This project is still in use, being vital for hundreds of health units and their patients, as the governmental entities responsible for them.