This company had a mobile application that was under development that had a number of user experience issues. I stepped in to evaluate the current design and propose changes that would simplify the work flow for the user, and make the experience as a whole far more pleasant.
This company has been in the Compliance industry for over 15 years, producing a web and desktop application that allows users to complete many tasks relating to Environmental Health and Safety. For this specific application, they were looking to only include the ability to schedule and execute inspections for compliance issues. The idea behind this is that the inspector will have a form of questions to answer while on an inspection, which will now be possible on a mobile device rather than on paper. The application would then synch up with the company databases once connected to Internet again.
This application was riddled with issues that ranged from performance (it was a trial to even download the app), to copy-writing (there were several grammar errors in the tool). The primary issue with the application, however, was that it was trying to do too much. There were features, like the ability to view previous inspections within the app, that were not necessary and could in fact have a negative impact on future inspections. Certain processes, such as beginning an inspection, were drawn out and made more complicated than necessary. In this example, the app displayed a large amount of information that the user would never make use of.
Another key issue within the app is that it was designed for many edge-case scenarios. For example, around 5% of the time a user would need to identify the object being inspected. All other times, the object would be predetermined and assigned to them. However, the app required the user to write in the object being inspected, which was frustrating to users and made it impossible to apply an object in the database to the inspection, as it was a text field entry. Scenarios like this would be very frustrating to users, as it would waste their time on a process that could be greatly simplified.
The pages themselves also had a surplus of information, and were all so similar in design that it was nearly impossible to tell what page you were on. Within the form itself, there were again aspects that were not require and only served to make the user experience more confusing.
The first thing that I did when brought on to this project was to fully evaluate what the user task flow would be. I spoke with the Chief Product Officers and Business Analysts of the tool, walking through each step of what an inspection would look like. Through this, I was able to strip down the application and remove about 40% of the information that was previously on the screens. This understandably was already a huge improvement on the appearance, as it greatly simplified the User Interface.
Speaking again with the CPO’s and BA’s, I determined what instances of the app were edge-case usage, and what the primary users would be using the app for. Through this, I was again able to remove around 10% of the existing application, simplifying the UI even more.
Another key change that I made was to create a version of the application that would apply to around 50% of users. The original app was built for large companies that required another employee to check to verify that each previous step was completed. For around half of the users of the tool, however, there would be only one person responsible for the Environmental Health and Safety Compliance within the company. For this user, I further stripped down the application so that the user is no longer required to go through the process of verifying the work that they had just completed. In doing so, the application was reduced by around another 15%!
A final change that was made was making the decision to design for tablet devices, rather than cellular phones. The forms that inspectors would be filling out can be as long as 500 questions. Because of this, the task is better suited to a larger screen, making the process faster and so that users do not have to swipe at their device endlessly.
The designs were well received by all within the company, and are currently moving on to their second iteration. The design changes, if implemented, will greatly improve the user experience of the application, and reduce the strain on the company databases.