From our customer visits, we learned our users are happy with Propel's self-service portal. It's easy to use, so IT users are able to find the services or supports on their own. That means users are less likely to file the generic IT tickets to reach out to an IT agent. Hence, the cost of IT supports are going down.
So what we want to improve next is help our customers to streamline their IT process by shortening the turnaround time. "My Workstream" is our response to that vision. It's a smart feed/alert capability that proactively notifies Propel end users of what matters them most.
I started from reviewing the existing IT processes for identifying where can be improved further. From the workflow diagram, we spot multiple steps taking longer response time due to unaware of the event status update. Therefore, we believed a notification-like capability could help users pick up the event updates quicker, so that they could react fast, and then the overall turnaround time of the IT process would be greatly reduced.
Therefore, I turned my focus to research the best practice of designing the notification experience. According to Appiterate Survey, "annoying notifications" is the top reason people uninstall mobile apps (71% of the responses). And Nielsen Norman Group also cautions that "A notification sent irrespective of the current user goal would likely be ignored, and may even annoy users because it will disrupt their current task and be irrelevant to their current needs." So with that in mind, we set up 3 project visions:
For Vision 1, we based on the stages and stakeholders from the workflow diagram to come up a list of candidate alert events:
For sure this relevancy is not equally applied to all types of end-users within an organization. So it's crucial to provide a way to allow end-users to decide the type of alerts/feeds they will be receiving. But instead of allowing end-users to turn off certain types of alert/feeds on their own, HPE Propel keeps this capability to Organization Admin to decide what type of alerts/feeds the users in the organization should be receiving.
I'd say this is a good example to showcase the difference between "UX" and "Enterprise UX". Generally, they are similar in terms of the design process. Just that the definition of "users" is slightly different and interesting in Enterprise UX Process. While end-users' concerns are still valid, if there were any potential conflicts to management-oriented concerns, the reality of Enterprise UX is we have to favor management users a bit over the generic end-users.
For Vision 2: Help users easily get notified, I followed the mainstream alert interaction design to design the alert as a card-like structure. Whenever a new event happened, the Workstream alert would fly in from top-right corner of the screen to better catch users' attention. It'll be persistent for 8 seconds, and then sliding out of the screen toward the right. When users click on the alert, they could directly enter the source application, and react to the event instantly. To provide the visual cue about this navigation, each alert clearly shows source app's logo to indicate where this alert is coming from, and also set up an expectation to the redirecting interaction.
Also, I apply the "red badge alert" to indicate the existence of workstream updates. There are in fact two different approaches of displaying the notification number on the red badge. One goes for "New", while the other goes for "Unread".
We went thought a brief session to test these two approaches internally, and we decided to stick with showing the "Unread" alert. It's because people have different definations to "New". And it's also hard to clearly convey our definition to users either, so it creates lots of confusions.
On the other hand, "Unread" is a clear concept, so we decided to stick with it. But we found that the overgrowing digit on the red badge could be harmful to users' awareness to the status update. Also, the internal testing showed that people could easily get irritated by the red badge on the user avatar. So based on these feedback, I added a quick toggle link ("Mark all read") on the UI (i.e. "Workstream sidebar" and "Workstream Inbox", will dive into details in next paragraph) for allowing users to clear alert count at once to improve the awareness, and also address the "annoying red badge" issue.
For Vision 3: Allow users to "revisit and easily refer the information details", the Workstream feed is designed to be stored persistently, meaning the feed will be kept even after the user mark it as read. This is primary because our users often need to revisit the feed for detailed info or timestamp when interact with support agents or other stakeholders within the organization.
So unlike other products that cram all the notifications/event feeds within a dropdown, we designed the Workstream Inbox as a standalone app for making the best use of the screen real estate. Along the time, the feeds would get busy and to a point become overwhelming and hard to manage. So we designed the filtering (by "feed source" and "read/unread") and the sorting capability to help users easier interact and get away from time-wasting distractions.
In addition, I also designed a Workstream Preview Sidebar by taking the advantage of the lightweight interaction. This way, users can stay at any screen and do a quick peek at the latest five unread alerts without being redirected to the Inbox and lost all the context of what they were working on. As previously mentioned, users can click "Mark all Read" on the sidebar to dismiss the "red badge alert" on the avatar. Users can enter the Workstream Inbox by clicking "See all" or the panel with My Workstream logo below.
My Workstream has gone live with HPE Propel's latest release. HPE Propel now notifies end-users about order and support ticket status, organizational announcements, pending approvals and other updates. IT administrators can also configure workstream feeds based on user type (persona). Per our customers, IT are happy with the positive feedback from their end-users. But the journey never ends. The most intriguing thing to me is be able to work with the teams, and collaboratively turn my design into meaningful influence to our users.
And I am always ready to take new challenges again as requirement evolving.