Relational solution for people management

PROBLEM: Team management is focused on results and not on relationships

I was tasked with creating a user-friendly team management app based off of a partial mockup and a supplementary list of desired features. The app was to have both desktop and mobile versions for two target user bases: youth sports coaches and professionals managing their coworkers.

The foundational goal for this project was to create an app that would help gain traction for the social platform it would be integrating with. However, since the social platform was a very new concept, I knew this app would need to stand on it’s own in the team management space. Because the focus was on a positive solution, that unique proposition became my focus.

HYPOTHESIS: There is a need for a product that promotes positive team management

Team management problems were already being solved with better known applications. I wanted to know how the value proposition of intentional positivity would hold up in this space. I studied and tested products that focused on coaching, human resource management, manager-subordinate relationships, and personnel-related record keeping. The main takeaway from this phase of research was that no solution provided a prominent relational component (messaging), although it was clear that users would utilize it.

In order for this new app to reach the business goals it was intended for, I prioritized placement of a positive messaging component, while ensuring that the rest of the functionality fit well within the familiar construct of existing team management products.

USER FEEDBACK: The flow needs work and features need reprioritization

For each iteration of my design process, I created prototypes to test on remote unmoderated testers with experience coaching youth sports. The following insights were the most impactful to the design:

CHALLENGE: Visual design and development implementation

Because I was the only designer working without previously established design guidelines, my simple visual design choices were implemented for version 1.0.

I also spent time constructing an intuitive onboarding experience. This would be an advantage over competing products. I had to first work within the preset limitations of email validation and data collection that benefited the business, but not the user. I made sure to mitigate the user taxation by creating a delightful, brief, and transparent signup flow.

In order for my designs to be implemented, I worked alongside an under-experienced developer with sensitivities about his limitations. It was not an ideal environment, but ultimately I gained valuable experience in standing firm to protect the user experience while creating paths for the developer to find enough ownership in the product for the outcome to be balanced.

REFLECTION: What I would do differently and the initial outcome

The way this app integrates with the positive social platform was predetermined and not very unintuitive for users. I would have liked to take a step back and address that integration issue, as it was the root of confusion concerning the positive messaging functionality.

This app was being pitched to the Positive Coaching Alliance. Although after this project, I moved to a new opportunity with a stronger development team, I would have enjoyed partnering with such a large organization in order to refine future versions based on the jobs they were seeking to get done. Partnering directly with the user base always makes the work more gratifying.

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