IBM

Work: Research, Concepting, Design
|
Highlights: IBM Design Thinking

At IBM Center for Advanced Studies Benelux, I do/did my internship and wrote my thesis. I researched, conceptualized and designed the look and feel of a new, online crowdsourcing platform, called ECrowd. With ECrowd, users can set-up their own crowdsourcing application and generate the application for mobile phones. Unfortunately, this was a very technical and complex process. People where not able to get started on their own. I used IBM Design Thinking to design ECrowd and improve it's usability.

Project Goal

How can the interface and user assistance of ECrowd be designed in such a way that users can manage their own application independently?

Research

In the first weeks, I focused on identifying the stakeholders and conducting user research. I interviewed several (potential) users, segmented users into groups and created personas and empathy maps. Some of those artifacts I created on my own, others I created in collaboration with my mentors or by organizing brainstorm sessions. I also regularly checked with team members to see what was possible within the time and resources available.

Brainstorm

After the first weeks, I worked out the current user workflows and summarized user pain points. I organized an ideation workshop with the team and with stakeholders where we came up with great ideas to improve the platform. I aso conducted literature research to understand more practices in designing user interfaces and assisting users. After that, I prioritized the ideas and created three hills (an IBM Design Thinking approach for setting project goals) focusing on solving specific persona problems.

Empathy Maps brainstorm
Hills

The hills mainly focus on onboarding and assisting users and designing an easy way for non-technical users to manage ECrowd. I created several prototypes and implemented an early version into the platform. I tested the prototypes with 'Sponsor users' to see how they responded and to hear what they liked and not. According to their feedback, I changed a few parts of the prototype.

Design

In the first development phase of ECrowd, there was no focus on designing the interface. I created a first design by using the IBM Design Language and I restructured the menu. Also, users said they were lost after accessing the application for the first time. This is why I created a knowledge base and a Dashboard Landing page with some basic information and guidance.

ECrowd Dashboard

Within ECrowd, users needed to create their own crowdsourcing tasks. This could be done by writing custom code (HTML/JavaScript). After research, I found that there were two main problems with this: technical users couldn't see a live preview while writing code and non-technical users didn't know how to start at all. Suprisingly, many users found the code editor not the biggest problem: they liked the flexibility of ECrowd. Because ECrowd could potentially deal with users with a wide range of technical backgrounds, I chose to implement two features: a default drag and drop system to create simple crowdsourcing tasks, and an advanced code editor with live preview for users that were looking for advanced functionality.

ECrowd Templates

Learning experience

Working on this project really helped me in improving my web and UX design skills. I did a lot of research to inform design decisions and I learnt how I could apply IBM Design Thinking to build a better product. The complexity of the project was really challenging and working in a multidisciplinary team with people from different backgrounds was a great experience.