Muahahaha! I’ve waited months to share this story. In December I decided to enter a competition with the VA to design an app that could help people with kidney disease improve their own health. In February (as I recovered from surgery on my ankle) I found out my design had won first prize! I came up with the name, logo, and style of the app, while also proposing certain functionality and gamification to make the app successful.
Perhaps one of my most complicated projects, this series of wireframes for the BLUEcloud Cataloging web app took about a year to create, from winter 2012-fall of 2013. Part of what made it so complicated is the subject matter. In case you’ve never had the pleasure, MARC records (used to catalog library materials) are incredibly convoluted. With 999 different information fields, and rampant custom uses, they are hard to make, hard to use, and hard to maintain. Most people get a masters degree to learn how to use them, and I had to pick it up in the sub-context of 100+ meetings. This project was further complicated by the long list of undefined expectations various customers and shareholders had for the product. To top it all off, I came at this project as an emergency transplant. The sole user interface designer quit and they lured me from marketing to engineering with the promise of a company phone. Therefore, for the first little while I was trying to fill UI needs for 60+ developers completely alone. You can therefore imagine my elation at the success of this product, as you can see by it’s reception on Twitter when unveiled at the SirsiDynix COSUGI conference.
When I began this project it was a mess. The engineering department’s only UI designer had unexpectedly quit, and they emergency transferred me from Marketing to keep the 60+ developers headed in the right design direction on this and other projects. This particular project had been abandoned by my predecessor because she and the Product Manager weren’t on speaking terms! Shortly after I began picking up the pieces, the Product Manager also quit, leaving me and the headless engineering team to do our best on our own. We had every reason to epicly fail, but we worked our tails off and came out on top. This was the flagship project in a totally new initiative called BLUEcloud, BLUE standing for “Best Library User Experience.” Had we failed to produce a high-quality product it would have been disastrous for our brand. As it was, our net promoter score rose, and customer losses dropped every year following this product’s unveiling.