I work in the Project Development area within the Systems department at State Farm. Our primary goal is to develop electronic products to support the company’s business processes. It is one of my main challenges on each project to work with the different areas within and outside the company: vendors, business specialists, customer service areas, and legal, network architecture specialists, and information security.
On each project there are between 20 and 50+ team members with different needs and goals. Coordinating with these team members to balance the business drivers and the end user’s expectations and needs is the focus of my job.
Recently Completed Projects
- A suite of six Web applications for reviewing, categorizing, and managing enterprise meta-data (roughly 1000 users).
- A Web application for four 24×7 call centers to allow users to identify policy and billing information, as well as provide information to callers (roughly 1000 users).
- A Web application to allow users to scan paper insurance documents and send them electronically with the electronic (Legacy system) insurance application (roughly 34,000 users).
- A Web application for four 24×7 call centers to access a knowledge base to allow the users to locate and read the legally required word tracks to callers (roughly 800 users).
- An heuristic review (and subsequent recommendation) of two client applications for the in-house Help Desk to allow users to identify callers, log issues, and provide solutions (roughly 350 users).
- A study on the use of icons within the context of online banking.
Project Responsibility Overview
- Provide input to use cases.
- Perform analysis of users, provide user profiles, lead and perform task analysis to document and understand the users work, conceptual model, and future task scenarios.
- Lead the setting of user performance goals and usability objectives. Conduct the iterative design process using mockups and prototypes.
- Determine when a usability evaluation is needed: lead planning, preparation, and follow-up so that each design iteration is evaluated effectively and at the correct time.
- Ensure the final user interface design and specification is communicated to and understood by other roles in the project who will use this information to build the system and accompanying components.
Ensure that user-centered design principles and in-house interface standards are applied.
When I join a project, my first goal is to communicate what I do. This is an ongoing process as the project methodology allocates resources at different points throughout the project. I work with many different roles, including: Business Analyst, System Designer, Developer, and Technical Coordinator (who works with the developers).
I spend the majority of my time analyzing and refining requirements. This includes all business requirements as well as helping to define the system requirements. I try to get the Business Analysts to write complete, consistent and unambiguous requirements that are feasible and design independent.
I also provide input into planning the user interface design tasks (including usability) and activities within overall project methodology. This includes estimating hours based on a preliminary understanding of the project, and noting dependencies on resources and work to be completed.
I have studied graphic design principles in many of the classes listed below. My work involves designing and usability testing Web and client applications. The need for graphics in these applications is limited, because they are designed to reduce the amount of bandwidth needed, and are not necessary for the users task. However, I usually design the logo for the application, unless one already exists.
Another of my responsibilities is to establish the task flow within the application and this leads to the development of the site architecture. In order to communicate this architecture, I create a couple of different deliverables.
Typically Produced Documentation
- Work Plan (describes my duties to the project and begins to assess the effort and duration of work).
- User Profile
- Current Task Analysis
- Problems and Opportunities (describes what can be solved through the design, and what cannot due to scope of project).
- Future Task Analysis
- Usability Goals and Objectives
- Site Diagram
- Interaction Diagram
- Mockups (wire frame)
- Usability Scenarios
- Usability Results (including solutions to all apparent problems)
- User Interface Specifications
- Error Messages
- Field Map
- Goal-Directed Design (Creating Personas)
- User-Centered Analysis
- User Interface Update
- Cognitive Walkthrough
- Interviewing Techniques
- Advanced Usability Evaluation Techniques
- Intelligent Web Design (Web User Interface)
- Intelligent Interface Design (Graphical User Interface)
- Online Design
- User Interface Specialist Training (120 hour graduate level course)
- Project Management
- Planning Essentials
- Building Project Teams
- Problem Solving and Decision Making
- Testing Processes
Usability joke (feel free to use it)
Q: How many usability engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: How many would you expect?