CASE STUDY: Interaction Design for Enterprise Application

Project Summary

This project involved the replacement of a legacy application and database system that had been running for approximately thirty years. This system is mission critical to the equestrian sector as it produces a significant proportion of Ireland’s horse passports and is the core breeding database for the Irish sport horse industry.

I was appointed as Project Manager and the client agreed to a User Centred Design approach to the project. For the purpose of this case study I have focused on the UX / interaction design and not the project management aspects of my role.

Step 1: User Observation / Field Study

The initial phase of this project involved me shadowing a number of the users throughout their working day to get an understanding of the legacy system functionality and also how the users interacted with the system. This was very successful as it allowed me to build relationships with the users and gave the users an immediate opportunity to participate in the project. I observed real world issues experienced by the users, such as distraction while working on the application, and also work arounds used which presented opportunities to improve the UX on the new application.

Step 2: User Interviews / Sketching Ideas

Once I had a solid understanding of both the legacy application and the users I printed off screens from the legacy application and used these to collect user input. Working with users I sketched ideas for changes / enhancements and got user feedback. These sessions enabled me to capture the users’ input on the legacy application and also to visually present ideas on proposed improvements and get immediate feedback from the users.

Step 3: User Flow Diagram

I next produced User Flow diagrams using Lucidchart for the key activities users undertake such as registering a new animal, adding a new customer and producing a passport. This provided a visual representation of the flow through the application and the points where users interact with the system.

Step 4: Low Fidelity Wireframes

Using the user flow diagrams and the legacy application screens and sketches from the user sessions I next produced low fidelity wireframes of the new application using Balsamiq Mockups. I ran user testing sessions to gather user feedback on the wireframes and then used Rapid Iterative Testing and Evaluation (RITE) to iterate the designs and quickly gather further input.

Step 5: High Fidelity Prototyping

Many parts of the application remained similar to the legacy system so low fidelity wireframes were adequate direction for the software development team. For complex areas of the application and new functionality I produced high-fidelity prototypes using Axure RP and this allowed users to fully interact with the prototype and give feedback prior to any development work. This was an extremely important aspect of the User Centred Design of this project and ultimately saved a considerable amount of development time.

Step 6: Iterative Testing during Development

As the software developers completed sections of the new application I ran user tests and the developers iteratively updated the application based on the user test results. This code-usertest-iterate cycle was used throughout the development process. This provided vital information to the developers as early as possible in the process and it gave users a sense of ownership of the new application.

Step 7: Launch and User Testing

The final stage of this project was to launch the new application and then run summative user tests. As the users had visibility into the project through the entire UX design process there were no significant usability or user experience issues identified. We continued with minor iterations to deal with small issues that were uncovered once the system went into production but overall the project was deemed a success by the client and the users.

What Made This Project Successful

In my opinion it was the User Centred methodology that made this project a success. Users were involved from the very first step of the design process and had an active voice throughout development. This made them more comfortable with changing an application many had used for decades and resistance from users was always the greatest risk to this project’s success. The client also had the foresight to assign a project manager with a strong UX focus to ensure the users were represented.

Contact Me

If you would like to discuss potential UX / Interaction Design projects please feel free to contact me. Call Fiona Mulreany on 087-6380841 or email fiona@mulreany.ie

My Role:

  • User Research
  • Interaction Design IxD
  • Technical Consultancy
  • Project Management
  • Vendor Management

Tools Used:

  • Balsamiq Mockups
  • Axure RP
  • LucidChart
  • Basecamp