In 2015, IBM established the Support Portal New Generation as a Hallmark Project and so began the journey to create the new and improved IBM support experience. After receiving the title as a Hallmark project, the SPNG team realized they needed a designer who could do more than just create strong visuals. The team requested a designer who could think and go beyond just pushing pixels. They wanted a human-centered, visual designer capable of making their vision come to life.
The main focus was on determining the new website but an additional mini-project was to also address the Technical Support Mobile App.
Role on the Team
Research, UX, Visual Design
(worked with a remote team)
Expectations for Role
To help the SPNP (Support Portal New Generation) team conceptualize possible design solutions, create design assets, and hand-off assets to development.
The Team Structure & Collaboration
This team is a unique group of individuals spread across multiple time zones, starting within the United Kingdom and ending with the Pacific coast. The entire team is remote. This is commonplace at IBM. With the use of various online tools, such as Mural.ly, InVision, and IBM proprietary software, everyone was able to collaborate and produce work successfully. The team consisted of information architects, developers, business analysts, and a visual designer.
IBM Design sprint bootcamp in Raleigh, North Carolina
Original IBM Support Portal Experience
In the recent years, IBM has begun investing more resources into internal and external software products and services. Example A (photo below) is what the current support experience looks like. One of the challenging aspects of the current support portal is that information and resources are not located in one central repository. The experience is disjointed.
Focus was home redesign - this was the original homepage
How the Design Process Started Before I was added to the team, the information architect created the sitemap, information hierarchy on each page, and some rough sketches. The first design task for me was to create mockups based on the sketches and the sitemap. Based on research, it was decided that the two directions that should be explored further were the accordion list and a card dashboard.
Screens that were the primary focus of the project redesign were the homepage, the product results page, and the user dashboard.
Before I joined the project, the information architect created HTML prototypes (two possible directions shown above) which the team wanted me to initially design around
Search is key, should be front and center
Information on the homepage is ordered in a way that addresses the most common questions and concerns of users
Use new brand guidelines when designing
The redesign should fall into line with other initiatives happening across both internal and external IBM experiences
Understanding IBM Support Portal Users
The original experience was disjointed and the lack of a centralized search experience made it very difficult to quickly access information.
Also, common information and links are buried under several layers of menu, a goal would be to surface these quick links for the most common inquiries.
Design Iterations for Homepage
Design Iterations for Mobile Tech App
What I learned
It was very rewarding creating work for a high profile project. Through research, it is very easy to see why it is extremely important for a company to have an excellent support experience.
In most circumstances, if a client ends up on a support site, whether it is a good experience or a terrible one, they will base future decisions on how they were treated. I personally have had wonderful experiences with some companies and consider myself a loyal customer because they care about me when I come to them for help.
What the Team Had to Say
“Britta is wonderfully creative and visionary while working within the constraints of the business world. She delivers visual assets on time and in the form needed by the development team. In her interactions with others, she balances professionalism with being a real person and is fun to work with. I would welcome any opportunity to work
with Britta in the future." — Gregory Bender, User Research Associate Director
"Britta has been a tremendous asset to our project team. She was able to come up to speed very quickly, learn about electronic support and understand our challenges. Britta is a strong designer who encourages the team to think about designing for the user. She stays up to date with current trends but keeps in mind traditional design methodologies. Britta’s communication skills are excellent. She always kept the team up to date on new designs and was quick to react as we accelerated our user interface. She would a great asset to any team." — Gregory Shalhoub, IT Program Director / Sr. Technology Manager