Searching in Information Hub & Task Management Tool @ Dell

Case study: how I increased user satisfaction and built a design-centralized culture in the product team. (by drastically transforming users’ existing mental model)

Project timeline: 2023 June
Organization: Dell Technologies
Role: Product Designer

Product Design | Service Design | Productivity Tool






Overview


Context


Computer Engineers at Dell were experiencing workspace dissatisfaction due to inconvenience and decreased productivity derived from their outdated tools.

I participated in Dell’s workspace modernization effort as the lead product designer a new, Single Source of Truth (SSOT) information hub and a project management tool to empower Dell’s engineers throughout the custom PC configuration engineering process.

Key Responsibilities


As the sole designer in a cross-functional product team with developers, PM, and business leads, I led the design effort of the project and worked alongside the development and business team. My key role was to...
  • Identify problem/opportunity space and gather product requirements,
  • Design a user-centered experience for the product.




Case study Introduction



Search feature is to have project-related Information at the reach of users’ hands to bring efficiency and satisfaction.

The new CSE platform simplifies and consolidates the process of gathering critical information each complex engineering projects. Having a single access point to relevant resources streamlines the users’ experience, making it easier to track and manage complicated tasks.





Value/Criticality


As the project platform was being designed to replace a legacy tool, t
The product team’s success measure was initialluy focused on more visible progresses such as transferring existing functionalities that directly affect the engineer’s fulfillment of their tasks. The team was looking into the problem from a microscopic, requirement-oriented standpoint rather than viewing the entirety of the problem which led them to understand the problem only in a sectional sense. 

[Image: Microscopic Business Requirements that were focused more on transferring the legacy platform’s functions vs the hidden problem of the legacy function that was affecting every aspect of digital workspace operations.]

Users navigating and accessing different task information is not directly related to their “engineering” task but plays an important role in reaching operational efficiency within the platform we were building.





Core User Journey

Main Users 

Development Engineer
builds system code and hardware configuration based on technical requirements from the clients’ custom orders. 



Work In Progress Lead ensures reasonably divided workload across regions, timely completion of projects, and quick problem-solving as a regional manager.




Facts & Insights


Situational
  • When working on a project, engineers look up about 2 to 3 other related projects for reference.
  • Engineers can only depend on manual communication with stakeholders to find Project ID numbers.
  • Relevancy is determined by the contents of the order and recency.

Behavioral
  • Users had a difficult time remembering non-human understandable ID Numbers (6 digits)
  • Users could remember satellite knowledge such as customer name, PM name, Engineer name, etc.
  • Irrelevant to familiarity, cognitive overload decreased the speed and accuracy of the user.






Challenge


Summary


The legacy platform’s complicated and repetitive processes lowered engineers’ workspace satisfaction, leading to decreased productivity sense of fulfillment.





Problem 1


Rigid procedures limited the engineers’ approaches.

The legacy platform only accepted non-human readable, 6-digit code. Users were rquired to remember and enter full ID to view a project. Users had to go through unecessary swivel seating just to find this code as they don’t remember thousands of codes by heart.
However, they often recalled satelite knowledge such as the client’s name or the engineer who worked on the project.




Problem 2


Piecemeal information led to dependency on manual communication.

The legacy platform took a pinpoint-loading approach that only returns details for a single project at a time, limiting user’s ability to actively compare and understand their projects leading to inefficient repetition.





Problem 3


Single point of entry and limited access to information led to a repetitive process.

Users had to work with a fractured view of critical information spread across many different features.
Many swiveling, often complex and bulky, were required.




Goal


  1. Remove inefficiencies within user’s workflow in the legacy platform.
  2. Provide easier, user-centric methods to access information necessary to user in fulfilling their daily tasks. 





Solution



Human Focused Operation

System matching to how human users understand and operate, not the other way around.

Searching, Not Loading

High-level view of projects which enables users to compare, decide, and view further details.


Single Source of Access

Pathway where users can navigate to various resources based on their needs.




** Stakeholder Pusrsuation


Stakeholder pursuasion:
Showing how the problem was affecting every user’s workflow
* impact that can be brought by retiring existing operation method
* possibility of drastically increasing the efficiency.

Business objective: increase Dell computer engineers’ digital workspace experience. 
Number of times users are loading different projects to view info
Number of times that are absolute necessity 

Average amount of time taken per case







Design Process


User actions


When users are searching for information, their actions can be broken down into 3 phases. 
These 3 user actions became the bone structure of the feature. 





Flow comparison 


Searching:
Making the rigid, SI only communication, into more flexible, keyword based operation.

Repetition Efficiency:
Providing access to multiple project at a time to shorten unecessary steps of repetition.

Reviewing and Accessing Info:
Increasing accuracy of searching by adding a new feature of filtering.




Overall Flow Comparison


The new feature was designed to increase “economy of movement” of the users. 


The legacy application’s pinpoint loading approach was unnecessarily rigid, unclear, and repetitive.
The new concept solved above inefficiency issue by    
  • Making the rigid operation more flexible
  • Minimizing unnecessary repetition
  • Increasing accuracy.




Competitor Research






Sketches


Low-fi sketch: User making a search

Low-fi sketch: Viewing searched results




Key Wireframes

Screens and interaction points throughout the 3 key user actions were prioritized.





Key Screens

System which supports the users, not vice versa.

Search by Categories allows users to select appropriate search categories with a focus on the users’ knowledge and situation, rather than how the system identifies the project.

We focused on creating a system that supports the human aspect of our users, while the legacy process was system-oriented method, forcing users to fit into the system’s language


3 characters requirement for a valid search increases performance & Keyword suggestion relieves user’s cognitive burden finding the right right item in the results.

3 characters as a minimum length of search relieves both the system and the user from using unecessary operating power to load/find the item. 

Upon typing, users are provided with suggestions  based on their search history per category. This reduces user’s need to remember certain details.


Searching, not loading.

Searching capability fix the information disparity by allowing engineers at the workfront to freely access information without depending on manual communication or swivel seating.

The search result provides:
  • high-level comparative view on different work items
  • Direct access to different types of information based on topics
  • Visual cues highlighting correlations between resulted item and searched keyword.


Filtering based on how users understand the subject.

Through filtering, Penny can quickly create a shortlist of items related to her current project. In the shortlisted results, users gain more accurate relevancy. 





Final Design


Selecting Search Category






Inputting Keyword(s) + Suggested search








Viewing Results








Filtering Returned Items









Key Improvements


User Testing


Despite the new feature being a new concept which users haven’t had a similar experience before, the new design proved to cut down the amount of time and effort, and increased user satisfaction.




User Interview  Feedbacks






Outro


Impact


Information at the reach of users’ hands brings efficiency and satisfaction.

The new CSE platform simplifies and consolidates the process of gathering critical information for highly complex engineering projects. Having a single point of access to relevant resources streamlines the users’ experience, makes it easier to manage complicated tasks, and empowers engineers with a more independent research method.




Success Metrics



Flexible Process

The new searching/filtering capabilities ensure engineers can easily find the critical resources they need to complete highly complex projects more accurately and in less time.

Efficient Workflow

The clarity of information in CSE lets users work autonomously, reducing the dependency on manual communication with stakeholders.

Intuitive Experience

CSE’s simplified process is consistent with the user’s mental model of real-world conventions that follow standard best practices.




Growth & Achievement


*Overlap between product design and business
*Inclusion of design in business (Designed started to carry more weights in a traditionally tech and business driven environment)




Please feel free to reach out at daekimdesign[AT]gmail[DOT]com
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