Cisco New Experiences

2019, @Isobar

I led a small team in creating a series of compelling concept prototypes that helped Cisco forge a new direction for their customer experience.

Client Ask
“Help us envision new possibilities for the Cisco customer experience, while making concrete compelling ideas that help sell change internally.“

Cisco makes a huge variety of hardware and software but the customer experience is fragmented and inconsistent. As a large organization with many internal groups, creating a unified and compelling customer experience is challenging.

Uniting the internal groups to work together will require compelling product visions.

These could take the form of integrations of current fragmented experiences, creating new spins on existing experiences or creating whole new products altogether.

My Role
UX Lead

I led a multifunctional team in the ideation, design and prototyping process. I managed day-to-day tasks and led the UX design, while also guiding the overall concept and vision.

  • Rapid Iterative Design
  • Concept Design
  • Ideation
  • Prototyping
Primary Challenge

Build concepts quickly with a small team, only 3 weeks time per concept, limited upfront requirements, and weekly feedback cycles.

My Approach
Understand just enough context up-front, design quickly with storytelling in mind to evolve the concept every week

Starting with research and interviews to understand context, brainstorm and design in weekly cycles. Each week, design with storytelling in mind, using gaps as opportunities for just-in-time requirements gathering.

Timeline
Each concept went through iterative ideation, design and prototyping steps each week until it was fully fleshed out by the end of 3 weeks.
  • Phase 1
    Ideation
  • Phase 2
    Design
  • Phase 3
    Prototyping
Phase 1

Ideation

Brainstorming & Sketching
Generating and exploring a wide set of ideas using quick brainstorming and sketching sessions

In order to generate a wide set of ideas, I led timed sketching sessions that started with broad constraints that narrowed down to specific features in later iterations.

These sessions culminated in 15 to 30 minute critique sessions where we generated consensus on approaches to take, highlighting new and interesting ideas and discussing constraints.

Storytelling & Just-in-time Requirements Gathering
Using storytelling to both communicate a set of features and functionality while using strategic gaps to foster discussion and gather requirements.

I architected stories each week connecting the features we had to show for that week. Built into these narratives were also gaps to prompt conversation. These discussions would then lead into the next week’s deliverables, thereby gradually evolving the product through conversation.

Challenge

We met the need for tight timelines and limited information with a tight and focused team designed to move from idea to concept as quickly as possible, in a form that is concrete enough to elicit feedback and with enough gaps to build on next week.

Phase 2

Design

Rapid Iterative Design
Moving from idea to fleshed out screens in a week

Every week, we delivered a narratively complete piece of the product. This involved going from ideas and discussion from the last week to brainstorming, paper sketches, wireframes, visual design and prototype in a week.

This aggressive timeline required a small tight-knit team that worked together to build a shared understanding of product vision.

I led this team and effort, guiding the brainstorming and sketching sessions, using the critiques to focus on core product vision. The close collaboration often meant that we could move straight from sketches to visual design. When needed, I built wireframes to explore some ideas in more detail.

On occasion I also built advanced prototypes to explain an idea.

Challenge

Rapid iteration on the design was possible due to the intensely collaborative process of brainstorming and sketching. Thus aligning our product visions enabled alignment of each individual’s design decisions during their particular design tasks.

I led these sessions and the larger design process, shaping the product vision and channeling the team’s efforts.

Phase 3

Prototyping

Prototyping
Using prototypes as a core storytelling and concept delivery device and for final delivery

Prototypes were used both to communicate page flows, but also higher fidelity interactions. Invision often sufficed for the former, but higher fidelity interactions were built using proto.io.

In some select cases, even higher fidelity outputs were desired. I developed a small Mac menubar widget which could host an Invision prototype inside it. This allowed us to deliver a prototype app which we could update remotely and would allow the client to get a realistic view of what it would feel like.

Learning

I learned a lot about leading a small team, especially how quickly a small team can explore and flesh out new ideas with minimal requirements. In communicating these ideas, I also learned the importance of storytelling.

Conclusion

All the concepts we developed during our engagement live on inside Cisco in one form or another.

  • MyCisco - is in development internally at Cisco
  • SaaS - a MVP version is live at Cisco Software
  • VEH - is in development now

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