DASH

Railroad metrics for executives on the go.

UX RESEARCH / UX DESIGN

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Railroads offer the most dependable and lowest carbon footprint for bulk shipping on land. With freight volumes on the rise, railroad companies need a way to monitor the health of their fleets. Delayed responses to operational issues could lead to late shipments or spoiled goods. Now more than ever, Railroad owners need to make decisions from real-time data, especially while they are on-the-go. 

ROLE

User Research,

Workshop Facilitation,

User Interviews, 

Wireframing, 

Prototyping

DURATION

June - August

2019

TEAM

Self-Directed

TOOLS

Pencil/Paper

Adobe Creative Suite

Sketch

Invision

Miro

PROBLEM

Railroad owners need to know the operational and financial health of their fleets. Fleet metrics provide critical information for identifying problem areas and making strategic improvements. However, Railroad executives tend to be on the road and often do not have the time nor capacity to pull out a laptop and analyze railroad data.

 

SOLUTION

Create a mobile app that distills railroad metrics into meaningful and actionable widgets.  DASH allows users to build a dashboard from scratch or utilize an onboarding tool to generate a meaningful layout. Drill-down capabilities enable the user to dive into specific metrics while sharing functionalities let the user communicate problem areas via email or text. Pairing these railroad metrics with an alerting system provide railroad owners a powerful tool for managing their fleets wherever they go. 

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TONY STEDGE

DISCOVER

At the start of this project, the product and commercial teams provided me and the UX Research Lead with introductory information about the Yardmaster's workflow. The information we received didn't give us a full picture of the user's wants and needs. Several phone calls and a site visit later, we were able to produce an understandable workflow that provided the backbone for my designs. 

Once I had a basic understanding of the company's product line and logistics space, I solicited interviews with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in my organization. These interviews provided a deeper understanding of the users who would benefit from a mobile dashboard tool. These initial findings provided a foundation for understanding the end-user and developing personas. 

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The primary persona described an executive c-suite individual who holds responsibility for making strategic decisions for their company. This person moves from meeting to meeting and needs to stay aware of their company's problem areas and opportunities for growth. 

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The secondary persona portrays a mid-level manager who stays vigilant on operational metrics for a specific portion of the company's fleet. This individual tends to be on the road to travel to their various railroad yards to ensure optimal operations. 

 

IDEATION

 

To kick off the ideation phase, I conducted a workshop. I recruited internal experts from multiple products and guided activities to define how a mobile dashboard could provide value. We reviewed the personas I created and generated additional goals, responsibilities, and pain points based on real-world examples. Afterward, I guided an affinity activity to prioritize the relevant metrics to display upon login. 

I concluded the workshop with a round-robin activity. The participants would draw a solution, then trade with a neighbor and take turns improving each other's ideas. After a few rounds, we produced a high volume of pressure-tested concepts, which I would use as a basis for the design phase. Armed with a prioritized list of metrics and ideas for how to display mobile data, I was ready to begin the design process. 

DESIGN

Utilizing the Design Sprint Methodology, I began working on a prototype. I set a different design goal per week: build a robust login process, develop a streamlined onboarding methodology, design Key Performance Indicator (KPI) widgets, and so on. In efforts to align with product strategy, I used typography and color patterns from the existing portfolio and settled on the name "DASH." "DASH" because the product is a mobile dashboard and can be accessed while users dash from meeting to meeting. 

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Through the design process, I solicited internal feedback and conducted customer interviews. I found that users wanted to see more data than could be readily displayed on a mobile device. Users also wanted to share relevant data with others in their team or customize the layout of the dashboard. 

I accounted for these requests by implementing drill-down functionality into specific KPIs. I also created a process that allowed users to share widgets via email or text. Users that wanted a custom layout could create a unique view by rearranging the dashboard via drag-and-drop behavior. 

 

HOW IT WORKS

1. First-time users go through an initial onboarding.

The user prompted to select which types of metrics are most important for their decision making. These selections help filter which metrics they wish to add to their dashboard.

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2. The app generates a dashboard with drillable widgets. 

Users can quickly search for other widgets to add or swap to their page.  The user can open individual widgets to see specific information and specify a particular region, commodity, or fleet.

3. The app provides alerts the user of any abnormalities in operations. 

Based on settings dictated by the user's organization, the user can opt to receive warnings if particular metrics fall out of a specified threshold. 

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4. Users can act on any widgets by sharing via text or email.

Based on settings dictated by the user's organization, the user can opt to receive warnings if particular metrics fall out of a specified threshold. 

 

OUTCOMES & REFLECTION

The final design was well-received by users and internal stakeholders. Due to other conflicting timelines from other products and limited development power, the powers-that-be decided to postpone the development for DASH. Though the project has yet to launch, the project provided valuable insights to other dashboard-related projects in the company. 

Once I had a basic understanding of the company's product line and logistics space, I solicited interviews with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in my organization. These interviews provided a deeper understanding of the users who would benefit from a mobile dashboard tool. These initial findings provided a foundation for understanding the end-user and developing personas. 

This project allowed me to experience the UX-process from conception to design, which I found exciting as a budding designer. A special thanks to my company's UX researchers (Eva Abella, Sam Rendon, and Kunwar Walia), who provided invaluable industry knowledge guidance on conducting meaningful interviews.

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