A Portal to Service Design

Adie Margineanu: Visual and UX Designer
Michael-Owen Liston: Strategy Lead and UX Designer
Fall 2014
Contextual Inquiry, People Centered Research, Participatory Co-Design, Service Design, User Interface Design
Strategic Design and UX consulting at Usability Matters, for a company in the financial CRM sector

Overview: Portals and Culture

While at Usability Matters I led the redesign project for the keystone digital product of a provider of Customer Experience Management services in the financial sector. The research and design phases involved extensive interviews with internal stakeholders, contextual inquiry sessions with external end-user clients, as well as regular participatory workshops. As the company was looking at the prospect of a significant shift of internal resources, our work was as much about helping them to document, understand, and socialize their own internal systems and culture, as well as those of their clients, as it was about designing portal dashboards and push notification frameworks.

Process: Breaking Down Silos

Our client had teams in both Toronto and New Jersey, as well as an internal culture that did not encourage communication and collaboration between different business units. We established a working group of members from different parts of the organization to bring different perspectives to the table, as part of participatory design workshops we facilitated throughout the project. Some of the workshop sessions involved remote participants, which forced us to experiment with some new techniques for inclusion! It was a sometimes challenging, but ultimately rewarding experience for the working group members to be exposed to views from outside their sphere of expertise and direct influence.

Their engagement in the process also allowed us to present our strategic and tactical outputs to the company’s directorship as the product of significant internal work, rather than an externally driven vision.

Participatory Co-Design Workshop

Dashboard Wireframes

What I Learned

Our client’s initial brief seemed considerably underdeveloped in some aspects, and I’m proud of the depth of the research and synthesis we did, in our efforts to better understand the larger context and problem space of the project. With hindsight and new inspiration, however, I would love to be able to take a radically different, accelerated approach to validating insights and building support within the organization. In particular, I would have used rapid experience prototyping with both the internal team and external end-user clients, combined with video documentation, to engage, inform, and inspire our clients much more effectively than relying on a fundamentally abstract strategy deck. What started off as a rather dry charting tool facelift revealed itself to be a project that revolved around the relationships between people and their often emotional needs. I think we could have iterated on and conveyed the value of design solutions very powerfully through video prototypes involving the end-user clients, and I look forward to utilizing that technique in the future.