Within the team of Thread Solutions, we had the chance to improve the whole workflow and processes of a local educational institute that distributes learning courses by rethinking their course management platform. Through this platform, the employees can manage the whole courses’ life, from the creation of the course and its publication on the website to the management of the enrolements, classes, materials attendances and certificates.
Within the design team we carried out a first initial assessment on the current platform, mainly through heuristic evaluation and cognitive walkthrough. Thanks to this activity we were able to identify problems and opportunities of development as well as the next steps of our design process.
To explore the platform from the user’s point of view, we decided to carry out a discovery workshop that we decided to structure in two main activity blocks: user story mapping and user interviews.
Within the first work block we carried a user story mapping. We asked to 20 users to write on a post-it every action they take on the platform to get to their final goal. The participants were given two-color post-it notes, yellow for the operations carried out directly on the platform, green for the operations carried out outside the platform.
Each post-it was then organised chronologically with the help of the users themselves.
This activity allowed us to see the entire platform through the users’ actions. We viewed the entire workflow as well as all the interconnections between the various users’ workflows. Here is the end result.
Within the design team, we then performed a first iteration of the map. We analysed it and then clustered the various actions into seven top task that allowed us to visualize the entire process: course preparation, course creation, proposal, publication, enrollment, active course and closed course.
In the second work block, within the discovery workshop, we asked some of the employees to show us how they use the platform. We asked them to fulfil some task and to think aloud about everything they were doing. During this session we were also asking some questions to fully understand their workflow.
At a later stage we also had de chance to interview 3 tainees. It became clear that the poor user experience and the huge amount of request for support by the trainees, significantly impacts the employees work, which is continuously interrupted by phone calls and emails.
There are no formalized roles within the platform. But, contrary to what we expected, we clearly found that employees are playing different roles within different stages of the workflow. So far, the user had to adapt to the platform, this has inevitably triggered some "improper" uses of the platform. Sometimes even overlapping the work between each other. We also found out that, even if there is a clear distinction between roles, they still collaborate a lot with one another.
These are the main roles that we could outline from the user story mapping:
There are two other roles that emerged from the mapping. These are not part of the internal team of the institution, but they are a crucial part of the entire process:
Before starting with the actual re-design we formalized our users through some personas models that could lead our choices through the entire design process.
How? By rethinking the platform basing our choices on the roles emerged and by structuring an environment that enables collaboration
How? By improving the usability of the platform and by making it self-explanatory
How? By limiting external interruptions, shifting on the platform most of the work and by increasing automation
How? By review the visual design as well as the whole user experience
We then started defining the new flow by hanging some sketched wireframe on the wall. We often use this methodology since it allows us to visualize the entire navigation and to iterate easily.
We then turned our sketches into some formalized wireframes that we assembled into an interactive prototype to share with the end-users. We conducted some moderated user testing sessions on all the seven "top task" we identified in our discovery phase, in order to get some feedback and iterate.