In 2016, I joined the BAE IDS programme at Lloyd’s Register, a Global Marine Classification Society who were looking to replace outdated systems used to support their business, starting the process of transforming their IT capability into a market leading solution. LR employ thousands of skilled Marine Surveyors around the world, to check and ensure that ships and other marine based vessels or structures, are built and maintained in compliance with an internationally agreed set of standards.
Lloyd’s Register had multiple disparate systems, running on old technology and with a limited and decreasing knowledge base of how these systems were run and best used. Multiple codebases were in use to allow for cross-device access through mobile app, web and desktop, proving costly to maintain. In order to keep pace with their competitors, refresh their brand identity and improve both usability and accessibility, we were tasked with initially reviewing the existing technology landscape and beginning several phases of user research that would shape our requirement definition for design.
I was tasked in UX to redesign a complex desktop workflow application called 'Class Direct' that services the management and certification of ships, as part of a wider digital transformation of their business. A seperate BAE workstream lead by UX designer Evelyn Patsoule was also undertaking a similar task for its sister application, 'Mast'. UCD principles and methodologies were applied to make the project a success, and to provide a more efficient, effective and satisfying experience for the users of the system.
Key members of our core design delivery team for Class Direct included:
- 3 Business Analyst's
- 1 Lead User Experience Consultant (Sam)
- 1 Senior User Experience Consultant (Nuno)
- 1 User Experience Consultant (Me)
- 1 Art Director (Cassie)
- 1 User Interface Designer (Larry)
This was based on ISO 9241, the international standard that is the basis for many UX/UCD methodologies. This standard defines a general process for including human-centred activities throughout a development life-cycle, but does not specify exact methods.
In order to manage complexity in design, we worked daily with real users of the future solution – actual Marine Surveyors who were seconded from their jobs to support the design and development. This was facilitated by business leads involvement and close contact with both Engineering and Architecture work-streams on a daily basis.
Planning for human-centred design
User Experience and Visual design delivery would contain 4 key phases containing multiple sprints of feature delivery before incremental continuous improvement of the product began.
Successful HCD would rely upon the teams ability to;
- Create an end-to-end experience strategy
- Understand and specify context of use
- Redesign within cost model
- Business Lead/SME involvement
- Close contact with BA, Engineering and Architecture work streams
Understand and specify context of use
This would be captured through:
- Cooperate Evaluation of existing systems
- BL/SME meetings to understand user goals and tasks
- Qualitative and Quantitative study of users
- Task analysis
/PHASE 1 - MOBILISE/
Heuristic review of Legacy Systems
The User Experience team had access to the current system’s analytics account. We investigated real user data to gain insights on how Class Direct is actually used, versus the perception from client stakeholders.
In addition to this, we conducted a Heuristic Review of the existing system to help pinpoint immediate areas of concern for future design improvement in usability and accessibility.
Feedback was structured using a heirarchy of High, Medium and Low based on the severity of their impact. Particular areas of concern included:
- Navigation and Information Architecture
- Widspread accessibility incapatability with WCAG 2.0
- Complexity of page layouts and data visualisation
As we developed our understanding of the users, their tasks and their environments, this output helped to drive areas of improvement for User Experience.
Who are we designing for?
We worked alongside SME’s to create proto-personas, proto-user journeys and draft user community map, to be validated and iterated upon during discovery.
Proto-Personas were based on interviews/workshops with members of the Class Direct Project Team, and are intended to set the benchmark of current team knowledge (Gothelf and Seiden, Lean UX 2013).
The creation of proto user models and community map allowed UX to identify knowledge gaps, select activities for further phases of research, and recruit participants.
/PHASE 2 - ALPHA/
Understand and specify context of use
In this phase, the focus was placed on understanding the problem and business context properly, before starting to iteratively design a solution.
What did we do?
We researched the end-users’ needs, pain-points, whilst understanding the context of use in which the applications would be interacted with. Technical, security, and infrastructure constraints were also captured.
Four participants from the four primary user groups were selected to understand the ways in which the identified user groups work in their usual environment. We also uncovered the issues they came across, and how they interact with others in the organisation.
We held one-to-one interviews with users from primary and secondary user groups to gain a deeper understanding of the main issues identified in the work shadowing, to validate our hypothesis in the proto-personas and to investigate user need/pain points related to Class Direct in more detail.
We collected our findings in Trello and presented back to stakeholders, team members and subject matter experts in using regular workshops.
The gathering, documenting, validating and prioritising requirements with the business for release relied heavily upon a close cooperation between the User Experience team, Solution Architect’s, Business analysts and Software Engineering, with real users responsible for signing-off all documents. Workshops were lead by the BA team but driven by the research findings, with UX using the artefacts generated in discovery to highlight and prioritise user stories.
Taking the user requirements and functional requirements for the first release of the redesign of Class Direct, the UX team collaboratively produced a high level system flow was first created to display the most fundamental baseline journey that the applications interaction model would service, and then progressed on to the first iteration of the system sitemap; to be iterated in each increment of design/user testing.
/PHASE 3 - BETA/
This phase consisted of multiple increments of design, paper-prototying followed by user-testing and susequent iteration. As design progressed, so did the fidelity of our prototypes.
UX was incrementally delivered in a feature by feature roadmap, allowing a buffer for review before handling over into visual design. My workflow when working on each feature was:
- 1) Analyse requirements with the business leads in order to understand technical constraints and business objectives
- 2) Refer back to research learnings to uncover opportunities for improvement
- 3) Build user journeys pertinent to those users who would be primary to this feature;
- 4) Sketch for internal review, and paper-prototype with SME
- 5) Increase the fidelity of sketches and produce wireframes for delivery
User testing would be carried out during each increment of design. Early increments used paper-prototypes of the Fleet Dashboard and Asset Hub features with semi-structured focus groups.
Our objectives were to:
- De-risk design process and user acceptance
- Continue to validate personas and user journeys
- Understand if design is appropriate for intended use case
As the stability of design increased through multiple stakeholder reviews and user testing sessions, we increased the fidelity of the prototypes in Axure to be interactive. Sessions were conducted with individual participants (in-person and remote screen-sharing) using specified design scenarios for consistency and validility of feedback.
We worked alongside real users to understand and design for their context of use, and conducted 4 Agile phases of prototyping, usability testing and iteration in order to give design and business stakeholder confidence in user adoption and retention upon launch. My role as a User Experience Consultant came to a close after the delivery of the BETA requirements and Lloyd's Register would then move into progressive phases of agile, continious improvement.
In Phase 1 & 2, we worked alongside real users to understand the context of use, conducted user research to validate our personas, document user journeys and priortise top tasks. Requirements were research driven and delivered using several phases of usability testing to progressively iterate the design solution (Class Direct & MAST). This Human-Centred approach increased our confidence that the design solution was fit for purpose, satisfied the business objectives and would be well-received by its users.
My role on this project came to a close after the delivery of the core (MVP) requirements for product launch, and the delivery team would then move into progressive phases of agile, continious improvement.
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