While at Boeing, I worked on a software development team designing airplane monitoring tools. I introduced the team to a user-centered design methodology which we used in the creation of a new front-end interface for an existing software platform.
The Starting Point
Software Design Refresh
Goal: update the design of the airplane monitoring tool, which was originally developed with minimal user input by engineering, to ensure customers can easily access and understand the data generated by their airplane fleet.
Users First
My first task was to gain management by-off to take a user-centered design approach to updating the tool. User interviews, surveys, and website analytics were already in place to gather user feedback however different teams managed the data collected and none of it was being utilized in the redesign effort. I brought these data sets together to establish a centralized approach to understanding customer needs. Finally, I filled the gap in our data collection efforts by adding site visits to the list of methods our team used to understand the user.
Filling the Knowledge Gap
Customer Advisory Board
I helped kick off the customer advisory board which contained 9 key airlines representing various market segments to gather insight into how our software was used by our customers and to ensure that customer input was considered at every stage of the design process.
Site Visits
Our design team did not have a background in airline operations. After getting funding approved, I coordinated visits to the airlines of the customer advisory board to give our team insight into how our software fits into the larger scope of airline operations.
The Design
Personas > Design
Information gathered during site visits and from other efforts were used to develop personas of the different customers who use the software tool. I lead the team in creating large flow diagrams of how people would navigate the new user interface intuitively. These rough sketches were then refined into more detailed mockups which gave me the opportunity to learn Photoshop as I helped develop web pages.
During our bi-monthly customer advisory board meetings, design ideas could be presented for feedback which lead to design tweaks and some items were completely tossed out. In addition to these meetings, customer conferences also served as an excellent opportunity to get wider customer input.
Establishing Value
Upon leaving the team, the value of user-centered design methods had been well established with the leadership team. Management went on to hire a full-time coordinator for the user experience efforts to ensure the work I started was continued.
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