Project 4

Software Release Dashboard ​

This project involved the redesign of a Web application system for a Northrop Grumman client that controls, tracks, and manages movement of software into production. The former system was comprised of several different, very old, applications and was very difficult for users to use. The new application streamlined process. Project 1 was the design of a user dashboard, which was an entirely new feature. 


UX Process:

  • Researching/learning the current system

  • Contextual Inquiry (Interviews) with users

  • Creation of conceptual models

  • Prototypes created in Axure

  • User testing of prototypes

  • Final recommendations based on usability testing results

The Problem

We discovered a myriad of problems with the existing systems during the conceptual interviews with users, including:

  1. There are several individual systems in the release process and most of them are not connected which makes the process overly complicated and hard to learn; some information needs to be keyed in more than once because the systems are not connected; information does not transfer from one system to another

  2. The forms are not completed very frequently so newer users have to relearn what they need to do or create their own tutorials

  3. The workflow is not displayed within the application; users are unsure what to do and when or who needs to do it

  4. There isn’t a way to track releases or know where they are in the process or who they’re currently assigned to (users keep track of their releases manually using Excel or white boards)

  5. There is no indication which fields are mandatory and which are optional

  6. Some of the labels on form controls are confusing or not clear

  7. The instructions on the form are vague and “a hodgepodge of things”; they're "below the fold" and not at the point of need


The Solution

Our final recommendations addressed many of the user’s complaints including:


  • Combination of current systems: Two systems were combined into one which helped make the release process easier and faster. (More systems will be redesigned at a future date.)

  • Display the status of the release (what stage it’s in, what is pending, what is next) on each page

  • Clear, obvious wording and syntax for all labels and instructions

  • Add more help/tool tips at the point of need

  • New Dashboard to:

         - Eliminate the user’s need to devise their own methods of tracking their releases

         - Allow users to see the status of their releases, who it is assigned to, etc., at one glance

         - Display an alert message at the top of the Dashboard if the user has an action pending


Usability Testing

There are 5 different phases to the software release process. A prototype was built and tested for each phase. Requirements created by the project team were used to plan and design each prototype and the functionality needed. For each round of testing, scenarios were developed with the project team and prototypes were built in Axure. Results of each round of testing, including task completion rates and final recommendations, were compiled for each phase.


A few generic comments made over the 5 phases of testing included:

“The next steps should be clear; state what’s next at the bottom.”

“It's not clear what you are supposed to do.”

"This is 100% better than current system."

"This gives me a visual overview of what’s happening but it’s not obvious where I need to complete my step."

“I don’t know where to go; I would like to see some sort of action button.” 

"I would like the ability to filter the table to show only In Progress or Closed or Action Needed (on the Dashboard)."

“Helpful. Very visual. Shows where we are in the timeline. Helpful to new people; informs me or them of the lifecycle of the release.”

“I was drawn to the alert message. I know I have something to do.”


Featured Images & Prototype: The slider below features several images from the project from conceptual sketches to screenshots from the Axure prototype. The HTML version of the prototype is also available: Software Release Dashboard Prototype  (Note: Axure prototype may be slow to load.)


*Note: These are "generic" versions of the actual concepts and prototype that was created and used for testing. The name of the system as well as other labels and text has been changed. 

To play, press and hold the enter key. To stop, release the enter key.

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Click on an image to expand the slider.

In Progress: A mobile version of the Software Release App.

I hope to have to it in my portfolio this month.