Simplifying the requirements of state compliance reporting to reduce error during complex user workflows
“[Miah’s] ability to clearly articulate complex ideas and make them memorable allowed us to spread customer empathy throughout the organization, and was key in driving design-focused roadmap changes at the highest level.” — Seth Banks, Greenbits Design Lead
Greenbits is a green-rush startup that capitalized on the explosive growth of the cannabis industry early on by finding a niche need with few competitors. Since 2014, they've grown into a multi-state, B2B, SaaS retail solution equipping legal dispensaries with point-of-sale, inventory-management, and state compliance reporting solutions.
About the project
Analysis of all customer support tickets found that the "Incoming Inventory" workflow (accepting new product into the store) accounted for the highest percentage of complaints across all product areas. Within that, "user error" accounted for 20% (the highest percentage) of tickets tagged "Incoming Inventory."
The process of Inventory Intake is complex and lengthy, consisting of multiple workflows configured in various ways. During Intake, an Inventory Manager needs to shift gears often; first starting with physical product inspection, then starting to consider and record the financial and compliance implications that come along with those inspection decisions. Because of these complex interactions, our interface can sometimes provide problematic complications which make our Inventory Manager’s lives more difficult. In short, we felt that our customers' "user errors" could be traced back to confusing elements within our product.
Via an iterative research and design process, my team identified a number of solutions that would provide our users with an improved workflow. We tiered our recommendations according to three categories: "quick wins" that would be easy to implement, "medium effort" fixes that would be more impactful to our users but require more resources to develop, and "big swing" fixes that would be transformative for our users and fit within Greenbits' "next generation" vision on our product roadmap.
Tools: Jira, Confluence, Sketch, Figma, Photoshop, Paper, pen, marker, whiteboarding, InVision
My Role: User Research, Data Synthesis, User Testing, Visual Design
Before brainstorming solutions, we revisited our user personas to familiarize ourselves with their needs and expectations. Greenbits' user personas were kept updated as a regular step in the product development lifecycle, so as to be readily available and accurate during projects like this one.
Because the setting in which a user persona operates can influence their expectations and experiences, Greenbits developed Organization Archetypes. These described the conditions in which our products were used. We considered them in tandem with our user personas when brainstorming and validating changes to the Incoming Inventory workflow to make sure we wouldn't miss key functionality different levels of our customer base were dependent on.
We also conducted store visits, allowing us to sit in on our customers' workflows and watch in real-time as they came upon snags, bugs, and confusing elements of our product.
Virtual site visits were conducted as well so as to collect a sampling of our users' experiences from a wide range of states, as compliance reporting requirements often varies according to state regulations.
Synthesizing the research
Key Path Scenarios
With the insight we gained from reviewing our personas, organization archetypes, and interviewing a wide range of our customers, we were able to identify and categorize a range of different workflows.
We ranked the different workflows according to their frequency of use among our customers, and graded how well they were performing in our current product with links to exemplary tickets in Jira. By identifying our user's most commonly used workflows we were able to determine the key path scenarios we needed to prioritize designing for.
While our key path scenarios clearly articulated the functionality we would need to design for, I felt it would be useful to illustrate the workflow via storyboarding to connect our design team to the emotional aspect of the workflow.
Seeing the workflow in a visual and narrative way helped connect us to the underlying emotion of stress many of our users feel during this process, and reminded us of how hectic the Inventory Manager's physical environment is during inventory intake. This shed new light on why user error is such a common issue, and highlighted the importance of simplifying and automating as much as possible.
Design & testing
Sketching & Wireframing
Our team started with rounds divergent whiteboarding, sketching, and wireframing that each culminated in group critique sessions where we identified what was and wasn't working about our designs. This also illuminated areas where we were all in agreement by having independently designed the same feature, and allowed us to focus in on workshopping which implementation of that feature was most intuitive and in line with the direction of our new design system and interaction patterns.
Low Fidelity Prototyping & User Testing
The concepts we refined in our iterative design sessions were synthesized into a low fidelity prototype. We intentionally used silly fonts and components that looked hand-drawn, as it was important for us to keep things "conceptual" for our users during testing sessions. A prototype that looked too refined might have suggested to our users that some of the features we were testing would be imminently released, and we didn't want to set them up for disappointment if they weren't included in the next product update.
Testing sessions were conducted according to scripted "key scenario" pathways, so as to control variables. We synthesized the testing results by logging them in a spreadsheet and grading the impact of individual features per interview. Feature impact scores were averaged across all testing sessions, which gave us a clear idea of how influential each feature would be to user satisfaction if implemented.
We then ranked the best performing features according to how easy they would be to implement and how much impact they would have on user satisfaction with our product.
High Fidelity Prototyping
Our testing results were translated into two high fidelity prototypes; one illustrating all of our suggestions synthesized into a new interface styled according to our in-progress design system overhaul, and another illustrating individual feature updates within our existing design system that could be shipped a-la-carte.
As I was also on the "next-gen design system" team, I was put in charge of creating the future-concept prototype while other members of my team worked on the tactical fixes mock-up. It served not only to illustrate our recommendations for the Incoming Inventory workflow, but also test the flexibility of our new design system components.
Our team documented our process meticulously so as to give frequent updates to leadership throughout the project. As we completed our work, we collected all of that documentation into a final presentation complete with itemized suggestions, research and testing data, and specs for handoff to engineering.
Read the case study about my work creating Greenbits' Internal Product Guide on Usability Geek's Medium blog