Challenge: Redesign of an Alerts & Cases Management interface to reduce time on task and optimize repetitive user tasks.
Solution: A space and task optimized interface for Alerts & Case management that reduced processing time (reduced clicks by 33% and 80% for bulk) and reduced time on task by 60%.
Duration: 3 months for design/validation/iteration. ~1 year implementation.
Team: 2 UX Designers, 1 Visual Designer, 3 Product Managers, Development Team
My contributions: UX Design & Research lead. Provide mentorship and design guidance for junior designers on the project. Ensure adherence to the Design System and define patterns for the application. Advocate for re-use of common components. Stakeholder management.
- Improved customer satisfaction and user efficiency. Some customers reported a 60% time on task reduction when triaging large amounts of alerts. Reduced single alert processing clicks by 33% and 80% for bulk.
- Supported customer retention.
- Proved value for involving UX early in the development process, early design validation and continuous testing and validation through the implementation cycle.
- Leveraged opportunity presented by the technical overhaul to advocate a look and feel upgrade leveraging our Design System patterns.
I worked on an enterprise solution to manage and monitor the Health of Industrial Equipment (Power Plants, Jet Engines, Oil Rigs, etc). Alerts and Cases Management is a core capability that allows triaging potential issues with industrial equipment and tracking actions taken to prevent or resolve these issues. Users of this application work on Monitoring and Diagnosis (M&D) Centers and spend hours in the day triaging hundreds of alerts and tracking cases, with the goal of preventing issues and reducing cost of maintenance.
User feedback on the application indicated the existing interface required too many clicks and actions to triage an alert or case. For some customers that were accelerating their digital transformation, the growing set of equipment that is being monitored meant a dramatic increase in the number of alerts managed and a compounded productivity issue for a small team of analyst.
Performance of the application was also not optimal and the engineering team was exploring a complete overhaul of the infrastructure.
Design hypothesis & direction
Through the years the UX team had been collecting user feedback from contextual inquiry activities and the product management team had been getting requests for workflow optimization features. I distilled the relevant feedback and collaborated with Product Management and Engineering to prioritize 3 key goals that we wanted to address with this redesign:
- Reduce time to process alerts & the number of actions needed to complete a task.
- Provide simple but robust ways to find focus through grouping and filtering
- Provide a defined workflow with configuration flexibility. In other words, solve for 80% of the common workflow needs but provide ways for users to configure the remaining 20% to tailor to their needs.
I led the design efforts from concept to execution while providing guidance to a dedicated junior designer assigned to the project. My approach was to guide her through the design challenges and user feedback so we could create an optimized design solution. As part of a larger unification initiative, I had already defined new application and page patterns to standardize the product portfolio. So I shared these with the designer, and worked with her to break down the key problems and possible solutions. She would then create some concepts that I reviewed and provided input to better align with our Design System, patterns and overarching product direction.
We worked closely with engineering and product management to identify key concepts that were technically feasible, and in some cases create quick spikes to better understand how they would need to architect the application to enable the experience.
Some key aspects of the updated design were:
- Enable better data density to surface all the relevant information to make decisions right from a single view, without having to navigate somewhere else or wait for a page to load.
- Provide robust filtering to help users find items that need attention
- Allow users to define view pre-sets and preferred state to help them view data in a way that is easier for them to process.
- Focus on bulk actions and action groups that could be surfaced without requiring drill-ins.
- Maintain feature parity and aspects of the application layout that were working well (for example we kept the two main reading modes of table view and inbox view but optimized what users could do from these modes).
- Leverage the Design System patterns as much as possible to refresh the look and feel and align with the larger product direction.
I facilitated various feedback sessions with 24 users from a broad set of industries that use the software like Power Generation and Aviation. The format was a walk-through of a clickable prototype with set points to collect impressions and feedback.
Users were happy to be involved early in the design process and felt their feedback had been heard and could see it directly affecting the product direction. I synthesized the feedback and guided the junior designer in the team on items that were actionable for this redesign and helped her prioritize the order of solve to bring value to the users.
Users responded really well to the new bulk actions panel that allowed for multiple actions in one go for various alerts. Still, they did not want to see all available actions at all times as it created extra mental load for them. We took this back to the drawing board and looked at when the different actions are applied and were able to group them based on the state the alert object was on and the likely next actions.
Implementation and continuous user feedback
Before implementation, a visual designer joined the project to create some of the specs required. She was also relatively new to the company at the time, so I provided design reviews and strategies for effective communication with the developers.
Once the first phase of the redesign was implemented, we provided users that participated in the feedback sessions access to an early Beta release where they could test the re-design before it was widely released in parallel to the legacy version. The Beta was successful and customers reported they had completely transitioned into using the new version during Beta as it sped up their workflow significantly.
Mentoring early career designers means knowing when to provide feedback and guidance but also giving them room to think through problems and try out different solutions. This also means being able to recognize when a solution is good and solves the problem, even if it is done in a different way than I would have solved it.
I also found that providing examples of the patterns being applied somewhere else or creating quick sketches to illustrate a general direction can very effective in teaching others about applying a Design System or existing patterns.