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Can the successful development of a B2C mobile app and a B2B intranet provide best practices for interactive projects? A report from industry research firm Forrester claims they can.

The two projects described in “Design Lessons from Forrester’s 2013 Outside In Award Winners” took the top prizes in the customer experience design category at the company’s first annual Outside In Awards.

  • Ally Bank used a rapid iterative process over nine-weeks to design and test a mobile app.
  • PwC Australia, a B2B professional services company offering assurance, tax and advisory services, redesigned and rebuilt its employee intranet.

Mind Into the Game

Although the successful projects were very different, they both utilized “nearly identical” steps, including research into what the customer wanted, utilization of personas, iterative prototyping and iterative testing. But a key, overarching consistency was that both organizations used feedback from customers and stakeholders throughout the various iterations.

The Ally Bank project had a shortened schedule because the company lacked a mobile banking app and, in the highly competitive banking world, its customers were noticing. To keep user needs front and center throughout such a fast timetable, Ally employed several strategies.

First, it got everyone’s mind into the game. A two-day kickoff workshop included an ideation challenge to design a tour of Paris. The exercise quickly went beyond its initial in-the-weeds approach involving tour routes and vehicles and instead concentrated on creating an overall theme — a tour as if it were a day in the life of Parisian painter Monet. The lesson learned: participants coalesced around the idea that an overall, end-to-end banking journey was the main focus and that specifics — like checking bank balances — were details.

As might be expected with such a short schedule, the team also decided to apply agile project management. Rather than the traditional waterfall or sequential form of project management, in which the whole project is tackled at once, it took an agile or iterative approach, more aligned to the plan-do-check-act cycle of business process improvement The team organized customer scenarios into functions based on personas and created a series of iterative prototypes. 

Stop and Test

John Dalton, vice president and research director at Forrester Research, told CMSWire that a successful approach does not necessarily have to be agile-like. “I know some shops that are very effective with the waterfall method,” he said. But a key benefit of an iterative approach is that it encourages collaboration between the interaction, experience and/or graphic designers who are facing the customer and other team members, such as project managers and engineers.