Time frame:June 2013 - July 2015
I led the research and design of V2.0 of Esri Maps for Office (EM4O) - ESRI’s flagship product for non-GIS users. I worked with a visual designer and develeopment team.
V1.0 of EM4O suffered from some key user experience issues, which made it very difficult for non-GIS experts to use. As ESRI moved its focus towards non-GIS users, it was imperative to make this product easy and intuitive.
I worked on the the end-to-end design of V2.0 including user research, problem definition, solution ideation, wireframing, usability testing and development of high fidelity mockups. V2.0 was launched in ESRI User Conference (attended by 20K people) in July 2015. The product received stellar user feedback because of the improvements.
Traditionally, ESRI’s products were designed specifically for GIS experts and thus non-GIS users found them very difficult to use. As a result, ESRI’s products were restricted to be used by extremely few people within an Enterprise customer organization; and Enterprises didn’t find as much value in purchasing an ESRI product license.
ESRI’s business goal was to enhance the usability of its products for non-GIS users, so that the products could be used widely across an Enterprise organization – hence increasing the product value.
EM4O is a mapping integration for Microsoft’s productivity tool, Microsoft office. In alignment with the broad company vision described above, the goal of this project was to improve the usability of EM4O (through a V2 launch), to make it intuitive for non-GIS users. Specifically, I enhanced usability for two key user activities:
EM4O had been in-market for 8 years with no clear identification of user profiles. To improve the product, it was essential to first get a better understanding of the users and their interaction behavior with EM4O. I performed the following activities to achieve this:
Through the user research, I uncovered several specific usability issues with the design of EM4O V1. Below I have provided a brief summary of these:
I strongly believe that the best design solutions are developed when people with different expertise come together to brainstorm on solutions from different perspectives. Specifically for this project, I organized and coordinated design studios (i.e. workshops) to facilitate brainstorming sessions with the development and product teams to enable collaborative solution development. I organized the workshop sessions in two parts:
I saw two big advantages of the design studio approach: (1) Robust design as it had gone through intense critiquing, (2) Engaged stakeholders – early engagement meant that the development and product teams believed they owned the design solution, and had a personal interest in ensuring project success.
Through the design studios described above, we came up with the following design solutions for the issues that we had identified during the user research phase:
I performed usability testing to validate design decisions and identify usability issues with design proposals. The testing was performed in phases and each phase focused on a specific design decision. Below, I have provided examples of the key usability studies performed for the project:
Quick maps – design ability to quickly select a map type and create it in Excel.To test this design feature, I conducted two rounds of usability with 6 users in each. I created user tasks, moderated and observed usability studies, and finally analyzed findings to introduce improvements. A key observation through the study was that naming conventions – there were certain issues with naming conventions. As an example, users did not understand what we meant by ‘Class Breaks’ which was later replaced by Style by size or color
Ability to add multiple maps.I performed a similar moderated usability study as above with 6 participants. I discovered that one of the task Icon was not intuitive and users could not understand what it will do. Accordingly, I re-designed the icon to make to it more intuitive.
In-context tools for modifying maps.Here, I specifically tested two design types to identify which design was more user friendly: (1) Ribbon style, (2) Drop-down menu. I recruited 6 users who were invited to a usability lab at the ESRI campus for lab moderated user-testing. At the conclusion of this study, I worked with a researcher to develop usability reports with SUS scores and evaluated which design was better. I concluded that the Ribbon style was more familiar for users and easy to use.
I partnered with the development team, working closely to get the design implemented. The biggest advantage of this approach was that I could quickly iterate on the designs based on development constraints, moving the project ahead at a fast pace.