Case Study

Cornerstone

Analytical Cornerstone was a very successful cost benchmarking PC application for RISI. RISI needed to transition the product to a new web based application. RISI knew that they could not just copy the PC application design and put on the web. They chose me to help transition the application to the language of the web without sacrificing the functionality that made the product so valuable to their users.

The client knew there would be changes moving to the web, but they really had no idea what needed to change. The project started with a discovery process where I gained a thorough understanding of how the application worked and what the use cases were for each use type. I used this knowledge to radically change the UI to both take advantage of the web and create a more usable and valuable product.

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    Application Home Page

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    Mill: Overview

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    Mill: Cost Report in Scenario Mode

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    Market: Cash Cost Curve: Graph

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    Add Market Factor: Furnish

My Role: Lead UX Designer

As lead UX design I was responsible for working with the product owners to produce the vision of the applications UI and define all functional components. My tasks for this project included the following:

  • Designed 20+ market level reports and a dozen mill level reports.
  • Created Use Cases for the five primary user groups.
  • Defined help structure and wrote initial draft of the application's user manual. I also wrote the initial draft of instructional copy within the application.
  • Oversaw the create of HTML prototype to test the UI before the beginning of development.

Process: Waterfall

A traditional waterfall development process was employed for this project. Once the UI was created, I worked with a designer to create the design for the application that matched the client's brand and met the usablility objective of the project. Once the design was created an HTML prototype was built, and the application was built based on the prototype.

[ Waterfall vs. Agile ]

Waterfall or Agile. I am Process Agnostic

Yes I scrum and sprint, but sometimes I do it the old fashion way too. I could argue about agile versus waterfall all day, but I would rather just say I think that both processes have their place. I have worked in lots of different processes and structures over the years depending on the type of project and the needs of the client. I am not set to a single process and am happy to work in whatever way works best to execute a successful project.

Project Highlights

Turning the Product Model Sideways

While the client was fine with the PC based version, the application had a huge flaw in my mind. In discussion I learned how the user want to see they data and the old application did not fit the use cases. Users selected the type of report that they wanted to see and then selected a set of filters before viewing the report. The flaw as I saw it, was that switching between reports required reselecting filters in order to see the same set of mills in both reports. I created the concept of Custom Markets. Custom Markets allowed the user to define a set of filters and then the 10+ reports for the set of filters. The new application allows user to save custom market, and the ability to toggle between the custom markets that are important to their analysis.

Real Time Filtering for Custom Reporting

Just having the ability to save filter was not enough though. The filtering system in Cornerstone is very complex with a dozen factors that can be used to define a custom set of mills. I did not think that it would be enough to have a filtering interface and then a report interface. We wanted to integrate the two, so user could quickly make adjustments on the fly. We designed an interface that both uses minimal screen space and allows the user to edit all factors from any report in the application. The search filter area displays the current filters and allows users to edit the filters in the same UI component. User can one click to delete a filter and can quickly use a popover to add new criteria. The editing of filters are in popovers so the user can focus on one simple task at a time and recently selected criteria are available to provide quick access to commonly selected criteria.

Sample Documentation

  • Market UI Specification

    This document defines the UI for creating and working with market filter. It defines the 12 market filters and defines the unique UI to add, remove and edit each filter. The UI for switching between markets and managing saved markets is also included.

  • Scenario UI Specification

    This document defines the scenario system that allows user to change every core value in the system at the mill or market level. The document includes the scenario wizard, where users can step by step evaluate how changes such as rising oil prices, or increased labor cost would affect a market.

Contact Jeremy for Sample Documentation