Social Supply Chain: Comment, Follow, Share
What is the Elementum app suite?
Elementum is a suite of supply chain management web and mobile apps. Currently, there are a total of 4 apps, each targeting a different division within supply chain operations.
As a company, Elementum sought to increase visibility and velocity of information within the supply chain space. Historically, individuals who work in this industry are prone to withholding information about problems until things blew up and became much larger issues. By introducing collaborative social features, our goal was to change that user behavior and encourage bottom → up communication.
In addition to long-standing supply chain mentalities, our apps suffered from low user engagement—we were giving our users a lot of great data, but they couldn't do anything with the data. We theorized that the social features would also help make the apps more "sticky" by creating more incentives for the users to keep going back into the apps.
We tackled the problems by implementing three social features that promoted collaboration within the apps on both web and mobile platforms.
Follow - Users were able to add items to their "Follow" list, so that they can monitor things that they were interested in.
Share - Users can share information with anyone that they thought should get looped in.
Comment - Users can comment and collaborate with other users around an issue to solve it.
The Design Process
Because these social features were cross-app, meaning all the applications within the Elementum suite must adopt them, all designers were involved in the process. I led the project on the interaction side, while another designer lead the visual side.
Define Users and User Flows
Together as a team, we drew many use cases and user flows to pinpoint what the design needed. From these flows, it was clear that @mentioning was a crucial feature to have if the goal was to draw users back into the apps. Unfortunately, due to development constraints, @mentioning was cut out of the release.
Research, Brainstorm, Sketch
I did a competitive analysis of popular social applications and identified where each app succeeded or failed.
Together with a visual designer, we brainstormed and sketched out ideas.
Test and Iterate
The team and I did several rounds of guerrilla usability testing outside Starbucks. We offered users a free drink if they answered a few simple questions. After each session, we analyzed our findings and iterated on the design.
Wireframe and Prototype
Based on our test results, I took the best options and wireframed and prototyped low fidelity web and mobile flows to get stakeholder buy-in.
Finally, we fleshed out the visual design. The visually designed UI can be seen in the "What was the solution?" section above.
This project was completed in 2014.