Creating a World-class UX Vision

Business Challenge

The Vision for a Collaborative Sales Experience

In 2010, the Sales and Marketing Group had initiated a bold new program to improve the company's approach to selling: move to a worldwide collaborative sales model.

In 2011 they began executing on their vision by enlisting the IT group as their partner. Nothing like this had ever been done before, either at the IT level, or across the company.

Armed with a business vision and a technical architure, the program expanded to 200 people: business analysts, SAP architects, developers, program managers, project managers and multiple directors.

By the time I was brought in, in 2012, the initial release was a month away. I was hired to staff a new UX team, dedicated to making a world-class experience for the commissioned sales teams.

The many challenges we faced were: no formal user research had been done, an outside agency had failed to deliver on their promise, a lack of UX vision or architecture, and no dedicated UX resources.

In brief, the organization hadn't included UX in its process for the prior two years, resulting in a solution without an end user.

Results

Wireframe sketch of sales tool showing colored circles of various sizes with additional information surrounding them.

Information visualization example supporting collaborative sales process.

Photograph of people sitting around a brunch table laughing and talking.

Example of Persona for collaborative sales tool.

Drawing showing multiple circles scattered and clustered across the page, with lines randomly interconnecting among them.

Original information architecture.

Image of an information architecture: approx. 20 small circles arranged in a large circle with interconnecting lines among them.

Proposed normalized information architecture.

Drawing of small circles arranged in a large circle. Two circles, colored red, are connected by a straight line indicating how an interaction on one leads to the other.

Proposed interaction architecture.

Image of a background gradient circle with paragraphs of text positioned around it, and an internal circle divided into four pieces.

Index into key path scenarios.

Image of two columns of thumbnails with descriptions. The left column describes a key path in the prior version of the product. The right column proposes a new keypath.

Example of keypath comparisons between two versions of software.

Excerpt from cocktail party, in which an engineer is swapping stories with another engineer, an information visualization appears as a thought bubble next to her head

Concept video for collaborative sales tool.

By the end of 2012, the freshly minted UX team had completed a UX Vision and architecture presented in a "playbook." It included:

  • The five-pointed star metaphor (see above) that described each of the key elements of the experience: designed for the user, information rich, collaborative, multi-platform and game-based.
  • A roadmap for achieving each of the elements.
  • Personas, context scenarios, key path scenarios
  • An Information and Interaction Architecture for all platforms (desktop, tablet and phone)

In addition, we crafted a five-minute vision video describing the outcome of this approach on the world-wide sales teams.

Process

Photo of woman working at a cubicle with multiple screens, papers spread out on her desk and a lot of windows to look out of.

Contextual inquiry participant.

Affinity model: image of multiple rectangles. Blue to pink; pink to green in an increasing level of abstraction.

Excerpt from contextual inquiry affinity models.

Photo of people sitting around a table laughing

The UX team in their native habitat, circa 2013.

Photo of cubicle space lined with paper containing notations and analysis

Persona analysis work in progress.

Photo of Leo walking inside cubicle lined with posters, walking through posters on the floor

Leo walking through data and analysis presentation materials.

In my first week on the job, I attended the annual sales conference to meet the primary players instrumental in creating the solution up to that point. 

In the ensuing weeks, I met with all key stakeholders within IT and the Sales and Marketing Group to understand their direction and points of view.

I then politely discontinued our relationship with the external agency and hired on a team of senior designers to complement the existing researchers and designers already on staff.

Then the real work began. We initiated a year's worth of research and design, to be completed in six months. 

Discover

My research team implemented a rapid worldwide contextual inquiry, visiting six countries and 20 users, to observe field sales team members in their native habitats.

My design team began multiple Presumptive Design visioning sessions with internal stakeholders.

Define

The combined team worked through the thousands of observation notes and interview data to create multiple models including affinity diagrams and Personas.

The information architecture laid out on a rhombicuboctahedron template. Printing this out and folding it up would connect the edges in a way that describes the inter-relationship among the elements.

Information architecture as paper template.

Photo of paper prototype showing multi-screen layout

Presumptive Design artifact.

Design

Throughout this time, our Information Architect dug into the underlying challenges of collaboration across task, time and space. Through handfuls of iterations, we finally landed on an elegant and highly flexible model that adjusted for security, job role and platform.

The design team continued the PrD process by testing artifacts with field sales people, refining our understanding of their needs.

By the end of 2012, about six months after the team was in place, we had a clear vision, a clear architecture (UX, IA and IxA), and a shared understanding with our stakeholders (business and engineering) of the desired outcome.

Deliver

Beginning in 2013, the team pivoted to execution: decomposing the various design proposals into user stories, working collaboratively with engineering and our business partners to reconcile the challenges inherent in a massive engagement such as this one and ultimately integrating our design process into a SAFe Agile approach.

Collaboration | Contributions

Rendering of "day in the life" of using a specific feature of the sales tool.

I was hired to rethink IT's approach to their collaborative sales tool using a user-centered approach. 

I was the UX team's manager, the Creative Director, Agile/UX expert and key change agent to the larger IT organization.

Except for the vision video (produced by an in-house video production company), all of the work seen on this page was done by the UX team; I provided coaching, critique, inspiration and dialectic debate to make sure the work we did was truly world class.