Trade Tools is a web-based software for quick creation of marketing materials (such as catalogs) using the clients' database to retrieve product information. This is a project conceived by Dzigual Golinelli and my role here was to concept User Experience-oriented solutions starting from scratch with the support of a Visual Designer. We were working with tight deadlines and an agile development SCRUM environment.
At the start of this project me and the team had only the main features outlined in the business model and we needed to work on a interface based on minimal information. The product needed a validation round with customers, so we delivered a high-fidelity prototype in two weeks. Once we got the green light to continue, these prototyped screens went straight to development. My challenge here was to incorporate constant user-centered improvement into what we had already created.
From sketches to layout
In such a dynamic project there wasn't much time to iterate on visually complex interfaces. So the team's process ended up being:
1. Understanding of feature/problem;
2. Sketching solutions;
3. Prototype testing;
I was able to work on various solutions for testing in a very short time. My deliverables were mainly sketches, concepts and workflows passed along in meetings with a Visual Designer. Since we worked close together I was able to tell If the layout suggestions and new styles fit the solution I had previously tested.
Low fidelity PROTOTYPE testing
This project consisted of a layout editor, so we had to be sure our concepts were not biased by our expertise as designers of dealing with this type of software on a daily basis. The end user of this product ranged from marketing analyst to commercial representatives. But since our product had a solid client from the early prototype, we had easy access to its future users. In the client's company we had plenty of users of different background to recruit and validate these interactions.
UX sprints don't get much leaner than this
When facing tight deadlines it's common for us UX Designers to listen some "we don't have time for testing/research/validation". This was one of those projects I had to make time for delivering the quality of work I believe in. In the end of the day, testing saved more time than it costed us, especially considering that if we did implement the features we would have to refactor them later. Also the prototypes served as lean documentation with the flowchart of features and pages as a support.
Users = clients
In this project there was a constant need of referring to our clients to make sure the project was headed the direction they expected. Every sprint we needed to show results of both design and development to keep the business part of it going. Testing with these clients was a way presenting the work we were doing, in a way we could get both usability and business value feedback. Of course, for the testing to remain impartial and relevant, we switched up participants while keeping the main stakeholders participating.