When designing and developing software, there are countless meetings and discussions (and occasionally a few arguments) as we strategize about the best way to improve our products. Much like our users, we edit and re-edit our strategy as new information is brought to light, comparing code and designs the same way they compare high stakes documents. Crafting the perfect feature addition is an art that involves multiple departments, each tweaking and making fine adjustments before passing it on. Sometimes a feature is passed up and down the line of production so that the process resembles something like Newton's Cradle. The software is sculpted into position, receiving impact from all sides, with each team feeding off the other's momentum and energy until everyone is finally content.
Part of what defines how this crafting process happens is user research. We have some very smart people at Workshare and many, many years of knowledge and experience under our collective belt, but no matter how smart, innovative or ground-breaking our ideas are, they aren't worth very much unless you (our customers) say so.
The ball is in your court
So, what starts the ball rolling?
It begins with a little bit of detective work. We hear many things from our customer support and sales teams - features that don't fulfil your needs; features that would be useful; or elements that slow you down rather than helping you be more efficient. Unfortunately, a chat in the tea room over Friday morning biscuits just isn't good enough to get the ball rolling... or, at least, it shouldn't be.
Our research processes aim to quantify and qualify the ideas that filter through from your support dockets. And, we do that by taking the questions back to you.
With production for Workshare 10 now well underway, our design team has been hard at work. We thought it might be interesting for you to have a peek into this world.
On the ball
The design team kicked off 2017 with some in-depth customer and user interviews. We started by talking with many of Workshare's customer facing employees. From there we discovered key issues that we could delve deeper into with actual customers and users of our product. Our main interest was finding out what users find most frustrating about their document interaction, what works and what could be improved in the current Workshare software and what else our users thought they might need from the software in the future.
Whose ball is it anyway?
Now the team had many hours of interviews and post-it notes decorating the walls, full of ideas and customer comments - totalling an extremely large amount of data ... which was just data. We had to find a way to discover what the core issues were and communicate those to the development team and project stakeholders.
After sorting and re-sorting the multitude of post-it notes, we entered our conclusions into a report, detailing what our customers need from Workshare. It was time for delegation to the rest of the Workshare team to ensure consensus. Once the practicalities of our customers’ requests had been discussed and time constraints had been considered, an official Workshare 10 roadmap came to life.
Keeping our eye on the ball
Slowly, the first Newton ball was lifted and released! And the process is well and truly on the way, with lots of sculpting and tweaking.
But, the design team is not done yet. Once the development is complete, we’ll take it back to you, our customers, and ask: Did we accomplish everything in the roadmap? Is it right for you? Does it work?!
If the answer to those questions is 'yes', then we've knocked the ball out of the park!
If it’s 'no', then we've dropped the ball and we’d better find it fast.
Hopefully, with our research, an excellent development team and your help, we'll score a home run and you'll benefit from a faster, more accurate Workshare product.