The Command Center
How might we improve communication tools for businesses that rely on hands-free and real-time collaboration across multiple teams?
Industries, such as healthcare, construction, and even transportation, currently use some form of walkie-talkie or other push-to-talk (PTT) devices to fill their communication needs across their teams.
These devices are often clunky and hard to use, and do not come with administrative properties for managing users, which can result in a muddy and confusing chat channel.
need to be able to provision multiple accounts to effectively manage user permissions and roles, while also being able to set-up organizations to use our services.
need to be able to manage users within their own communication groups/teams to make sure their team can run smoothly, while optimizing their given workflow.
need to be able to hear their managers clearly without interference from other team members, so that top-down orders can be received or necessary updates can be heard and they can
re-route their workflow as needed.
Any industry that comprises of people needing direct, hands-free communication (i.e. voice activated tools), with multiple groups to aid in coordinating efforts across any distance is a potential user.
With the addition of the Command Center, this means the ability to create and dispatch teams from a desktop without having to be out in the field, while also being able to track real-time locations of their teams.
Past case studies include being able to organize with a team of healthcare professionals to provide better quality care through reduced response times or a bike maintenance service that required truck drivers to be able to communicate with operation managers on where to drive to for their tasks and to keep their team updated with their location and task status.
Web UX Designer (me)
Mobile UX Designer
VP of Product
Director of Design
Web Developer Team
For the conception of our Orion Command Center, I worked directly with the VP of Product and the web engineering team to understand constraints from a technical and timeline perspective.
During iteration cycles for designs, I would consult with our Director of Design, Mobile UX designer, and User Researcher to validate solutions and gather feedback.
For the minimal viable product, we had a timeline of 8 months. For me, it's crucial to come from a place of understanding. I studied the product design document closely for the first couple of weeks to understand proposed feature sets and familiarize with potential technical hiccups we may face.
Our post-MVP goals were focused on more advanced features, such as allowing users to customize their groups settings and user permissions. Our timeline for our second round of deliverables was around 9 months, but we luckily received an extension for this.
Discover & Define
SITE MAP & ARCHITECTURE
To begin planning the architecture of our platform, I created a sitemap to cover basic navigation and user flows based on product requirements in our Product Design Document. I color-coded portions of this map so our team could visualize what parts would be built first, second, and "TBD".
To gain initial product feedback, I presented this to a variety of stakeholders: product managers, engineering leads, and customer success teams to understand the user needs, business goals, and technical limitations at a high level.
I felt that it was imperative to get as much feedback as possible from different stakeholders to capture any potential issues anyone could find early in our process and to ensure I could get our goals aligned. What were we missing? What should we consider for the future? What is our expected timeline for parts of this flow? These were the answers we all sought to discover.
USER FLOWS & RESEARCH
From the sitemap, I identified the most necessary user flows we should focus on first. To start, we needed a way to get users set-up with their own account with the Orion Command Center and a way to create their own organization. The main reason for prioritizing this flow is because we did not yet have a sales team or a customer success team. Without this self-service way to manage their own organization, Orion Labs would have to spend extra costs on hiring (which we weren't in the position to do yet) or have someone else (most likely, a very busy founding employee) to deal with customers, which would dampen productivity.
I worked with our user researcher to document comparisons of different sign-up flows. We discussed which flows worked best from our observations and what could be better or improved upon. After our brainstorming session, I created an idealized flow based on our findings.
I then presented the flows to the engineering team for feedback and to see where the flow could be optimized to decrease development time and to understand any technical constraints.
SKETCHES & PAPER PROTOTYPES
I explored a few different layouts for Orion Command Center by creating sketches, then turning those sketches into paper prototypes. I used this method to quickly test my ideas with the product and design team to red flag any issues they could find. The outcomes of these design reviews led to some whiteboarding on user flows, which helped me refine the designs during the wireframing/grayboxing phase.
At its core, the platform would need an "overview" screen, and a "details" screen. I found that a single panel layout that could expand into a dual panel layout was the most versatile for what we were trying to achieve with the Command Center.
I advocated for mobile-first screens, but due to time-constraints, we decided to table it for later. To me, it wasn’t a matter of if we’d do responsive, but when.
I kept this in mind and it was the main reason I designed widgets and self-contained sections for content on all the pages. (Spoiler Alert: we ended up making this mobile-friendly about 1.5 years later.)
Wireframes & Mocks
I created gray-scale wireframes to refine my paper prototypes. I used grayscale as a means of cheap preliminary "testing" of the UI. By presenting these to the team, I was able to gain insights on button placement, content legibility, and page layout.
Next, I created a style guide and high-fidelity mock-ups. These mocks went through a series of iterations and feedback sessions with the product and design team. We wanted to make sure we kept our aesthetic cohesive across all Orion Labs products and noted the changes that would have to happen in the future with this new style guide. We brought on engineering leads to give final thoughts on designs to make sure our goals were still aligned. Below, are the final MVP mocks:
ACCOUNT REGISTRATION & ACCOUNT CREATION
Impact & Key Takeaway
We needed a minimal viable product to showcase what our Command Center could do, and in turn, generate customer interest. The International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) presented the perfect opportunity for our company to demo the Command Center and the Onyx device to potential key players from a variety of industries. Seeing reactions to our enterprise voice platform helped me gauge the initial reception and see what areas could be improved while learning about use cases and applicable situations.
We wanted to capture as many leads as possible - those who would be interested in learning more and potentially signing contracts in the future. Aside from gaining valuable insights from those that could benefit from our product, creating this MVP was a huge money saver because we didn't have to allocate resources to build everything that we thought was "right" for the product, but instead built minimal managerial functions to allow admins to manage their organizations through the Command Center, which in turn, gave us an established base point to churn interest in different market sectors.
Shipped MVP Features:
• View, add, or remove users from your organization
• View, add, or remove groups from your organization
• Assign group leaders within communication channels to manage teams
• Edit group name and what groups users can participate in
• Monitor recently added users or groups from the dashboard
• Sync data with the Orion Mobile App to give users a seamless experience
Main Takeaway: Get Feedback Early & Often.
When designing a product from the ground-up, it's important to understand all of your stakeholders' goals. In the early phases of my design process, I listened to both objective and subjective feedback and parsed out the reasons "why" this feedback was being given. To me, getting feedback by involving stakeholders early on in the process meant that we could be better aligned. And if we're better aligned on project goals, there will be less chance of misunderstandings down the road. This has helped create a smooth pipeline for my design process, and helped me build trusting relationships with those involved.
A SHOWCASE OF MY WORK AT ORION LABS
The Command Center
From conception to completion, we delivered our minimal viable product in under 8 months.
To give organizations a way to manage their users and groups, we created "Setting" views to help provision permissions.