An essential part of my role as a User Experience (UX) Designer is identifying user needs and/or problems and designing solutions to help solve them. In a recent staff meeting, Skip brought up a discovery that was made while demonstrating to a prospective customer how GeoWorx Sync could be used to synchronize data between IBM Maximo and Esri ArcGIS. After the demo was over and through the course of the conversation, the customer informed us that before they could use GeoWorx Sync they would need to address data issues in their GIS and Maximo systems and that was their current priority.
While this was not directly related to the GeoWorx Sync demo, it presented an opportunity for us to help solve their problem in another way. GeoWorx Sync could be used to discover and document all of the issues and discrepancies between the data in GIS and Maximo. GeoWorx Sync could essentially be used as a tool to help them identify the data issues that needed to be addressed. This was directly related to the customer’s current problem and an indirect use of the software.
This resonated with me because when designing new software features or new functionality, it is crucial to understand the task the user is trying to complete or the problem (s)he is trying to solve. Observing users and getting user feedback is a great way to accomplish this. It’s not enough to go by assumptions about how users work because, like the scenario Skip talked about, you might miss an opportunity to discover something you didn’t know before.
During the initial design of the timekeeping module for GeoWorx Mobile, we visited our customer sites to observe users performing their day-to-day tasks in their native environment. While observing users, we also asked questions around how they currently track their work and their time.
Doing so proved invaluable to us because we saw and heard first-hand the types of problems or obstacles that our customer’s work crews and other users encounter while performing their daily duties. Additionally, we were able to show early design concepts and get user feedback. This helped us to capture any necessary design changes and to validate any assumptions we had made regarding the user workflow.
During development of the timekeeping module, we continuously circled back with our customer and users to demonstrate new functionality and to get feedback. We were also able to validate that our designed solution still met the user’s needs. If any issues were identified, we were able to make the necessary changes before the product’s release.
So what does it all mean? It means that by including our users in the design and development process, we ensure that we make our products better and meet our user’s needs. The story doesn’t end here, though. We want to hear from you. If you have ideas for new product features, want to give us feedback on any of our products, or are interested in setting up a site visit, please contact Lindsay Sutherland at email@example.com.