Hi, We are Melissa Quintanilha and Kevin Decker, User Experience Designer and Researcher for Service Manager. Together we make up the User Experience team for this product.
User Experience encompasses much more than just the User Interface (the pretty pictures on the monitor). Our job is to look at the whole problem space and define the complete end-to-end experience for every user that has the opportunity to use the Service Manager product.
End-to-end experience is something more than the sum of the separate feature parts. To borrow from the social sciences, User Experience (UX) means looking at the “Gestalt”, finding, evaluating, and defining what the user wants, needs, and aspires to do, with the product we create.
We start our process by visiting customers and observing how they do their work. We shadow users to find how they do their jobs and why they do them that way with their current tools. We look for opportunities to automate processes and environmental conditions that make the current workflows logical.
We take that data back to Redmond with us and then envision the right user experience by developing workflows and click-through prototypes for each user goal. We work closely with the product team on those scenarios in order to marry the workflows we discovered, with technology the team is investigating, to produce innovative products. Once we complete the prototypes, then we bring users into the usability lab.
Our Usability labs are authentic behavioral research laboratories, where we bring in representative users and have them attempt the scenarios (the workflows we found in our site visit research) using the product that product team has created with us. That lab has everything a behavioral scientist could want, one-way mirrors, video cameras, eye-tracking software, and even biometric sensors, should we want them.
All this technology is used to identify how easy, or difficult, it is to perform the scenarios we saw in the site visits we did way back at the beginning of this process. We learn a lot from watching people interact with our prototypes and the results are used to iterate on the product design to improve the usability. Then, when we have redone the design based on the lab results...we do it again. We end up exploring many alternatives during each round of testing to make sure we deliver the best solution possible.
For Service Manager, we have taken the point of view that this product has to be usable by a wide variety of technical expertise. It has to work for the Tier 1 analyst, the Help Desk manager, and even the Systems Architect. This breadth of technical experience is one of our biggest challenges here in the UX team.
In order to design for that problem, we look at each user, keeping their experience in mind and integrating them with our design goals. Here in the User Experience team we have aspirations for the product; you might consider them our design goals:
We want to utilize simplicity and elegance to produce a product that is useful, usable and desirable.
We hope that the designs and interactions of the product come together and can create an experience that allows users to do their jobs quickly, efficiently, and effectively. We want to supply organizations with the right information at the right time, to make the right decisions. That means not only making a reactive product, but providing views into the trends and potential issues before they happen.
I hope this gives you an overview of what user experience is and how we work. The next posts will focus on the user experience for different areas of Service Manager.