A few months ago, a project was started with the purpose to redesign the look and feel of the payroll application in the MyVisma portal. MyVisma is a cloud-based customer portal, that enables the users to have access and manage their payslips, timesheets, invoices and financial information. One of the foremost features to redesign was the schedule management. This feature allows the Human Resource (HR) Manager or company administrator to manage the work schedule for the employees. The current design of the Schedule management module is rather old, while the majority of the Payroll application adheres to Visma’s latest design framework Nordic Cool 3.
One of our design goals is to improve the look and feel and provide our users with a unified experience across the MyVisma platform. Also, we want to have a minimum viable product (MVP) ready in 3 months.
In Visma, UX designers work according to the UX pyramid model. It reminds us to tackle all aspects in order to design solutions that deliver a good user experience. By applying our UX guidelines and use elements from Nordic Cool 3 web library, I can be confident that the new interface will follow the best practices and have a professional look and feel. But of course this is not enough. I also need to focus on the core aspect, which is the usability of the solution.
Since I was new to the application when the redesign project started, I started by carrying out user research to get a better understanding of the Schedule management feature. My idea was that if the users were happy with the usability of the feature, we could save time by focusing solely on the graphical interface design.
“Unfortunately, the more I talked to the users, the more I realized that the users’ problems could not be solved by simply revamping the interface with the latest design framework.”
To be able to design an MVP for the Scheduling management feature, I realized that I had to carry out at least one small iteration of the user centered design process (UCD), even though the time restraints were strict. I would like to share with you my personal notes when i walked through the 4 stages of the UCD.
1. It all starts with empathizing with users’ problems
Arriving at the current redesigned interface has not solely been the result of applying UX guidelines and the Nordic Cool 3 framework, but also of empathizing with the end users. From my user research, I understood that the current design is perceived as very complicated because of several bad design qualities:
• The process that the user carries out involves multiple steps that are not clearly specified anywhere in the interface.
• The user needs to remember the steps and go through training in order to grasp how it works.
• The user is not provided with a functioning search, leading to a lot of effort for the user to scan through and find the needed information.
Added together, these UX problems overload the user’s cognitive processes and also diminishes the user’s trust in the application. In my interviews, I understood that several users feel reluctant to use the feature, and when they find it difficult, they prefer to call the support.
After I had understood the main problems in the existing solution, and I had gotten a clearer idea of the users of the feature, I started to develop personas with user goals to visualize my findings. I also carried out scenario mapping to demonstrate the pain points in the current design. These communication tools proved to be very helpful when I later needed to communicate with the development team. They are also powerful tools when I try to promote a more user centered mindset in the product management and product owner roles.
2. Collaboration is the key to problem solving
Redesigning an old system is a challenging task. At the same time as we need to understand the needs of the end users, we also need to understand the system’s architecture and its constraints. We will have to compromise the user’s flexibility due to technical difficulties and limitations of the legacy codebase. That is when collaboration is much needed. I did a few design walkthrough sessions with the product owner, development team and application specialist to verify the new proposed design concept. By presenting the user problems, the proposed concept and discuss the solution with the whole product team, i am able to not only confirm the business value, gather feedback regarding the feasibility of the solution, but also bring about the team’s ownership towards the new solution
3. Communicate frequently with users
By keeping the users updated about the design and development processes, they can see how the product evolves. At the same time, we as designers can get help from their feedback and input. This is a good way to let users know that we value their opinions. It also builds their trust and creates enthusiasm to participate in future projects. By communicating frequently with the users about the improvements that we make, will hopefully help to increase user engagement and reduce the churn rate in the long run.
4. Test and iterate
A user testing our prototype
To continuously test and iterate is the quickest way to find out if a solution can really solve users’ problems. In this project, I did a few iterations and measured the system usability score (SUS) in each iteration. It is indeed very motivating to see that our solution improves along the time. I notice that it is important to take into account the fidelity level of the prototype because that can affect the perception of the users when they answer the SUS questionnaires. I also recorded the time on task during user test to compare with the estimation time that the users gave me. Though it is still based on estimation, it will definitely lead to further measurement for the later stage of development.
System Usability Score:
Time On Task:
The design does not need to be perfect to test it. By showing it in an early phase, we have received invaluable feedback to make the design even better. When we are working agile and lean, it is a life mantra to “fail early and fail fast”.
All in all, the user centered design process is one of the paths that leads to good product. It not only promotes enjoyable user experience, but also ensures the product will solve the right user problems. We need a deep knowledge about the system architecture from the development team, an understanding of the business needs fromthe Product Owner, clear representations of the internal business processes from the application specialist and insights of user needs from the UX designer.