This was one of those duck projects, you know, where the above the water all is calm while beneath the water everything is chaotic and the legs are paddling like crazy. I came into the project after the discovery phase – a recurring theme them when you’re contracting – and had to adapt the initial concept designs to production ready designs.
As the Business Requirements and System Design had been largely agreed this wasn’t an easy task, but hey who said UX was supposed to be easy. Besides, this was Bentley, which British UX could resist working with that brand?
The first thing I had to do was change the interaction patterns, the concept designs were all based on mouse usage not touch interaction. This lead to many discussions with business stakeholders over the use of mouseover effects and finger-friendly navigation and interaction. Naturally enough this had a big impact on the UI designs and a lot of diplomatic business management to get agreement.
The legacy designs were drawn up in Adobe InDesign, perfect for presentation but less so for rapid interactive prototyping, so my second task was to recreate and redesign these for different devices in Axure. Given the time restraints this meant that a certain amount of the polish had to go as well, however that wasn't a bad thing as it allowed the stakeholders to concentrate on the UX rather than the style of the UI.
The underlying site structure and navigation was the next step, luckily, I was working with an exceptional IA and together we developed the taxonomy and reconstructed the content and site maps, making a simple, more manageable format.
So now we had an agreement on information structures, navigation solutions, content types and it was time to start prototyping. These were guerrilla tested with non-techies and non-designers, and tested online with selected existing customers, with the results feeding back into my designs to ensure that user requirements shaped the new site structure and interface design, it also communicated clearly to the business that the designs were not just opinions but based on user needs.
we now had tested working responsive prototypes, so it was time to work with the creative team and content writers to construct a real High-Fidelity prototype. I also worked with the development team to produce functional specs, marrying the graphics to the interaction and content, with annotated user rationales for each decision. The final solution was handed over in October 2011 and went live in 2014.
What would I change in retrospect?
There were a lot of preconceptions that I should have pushed back on, given the time, and we only had the luxury of testing on IOS devices, not Android, so there was a hole there. The waterfall nature of the project did not work well with the rapid changes that emerged as we went on, but at least a few silos came down in my time here. It did though reach the business requirement and the project milestones so these are minor gripes.