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NCP Connect

Summary

Client: Carnegie Technologies (Internal Product)

Request: Explore opportunities for a consumer app offering of the Network Convergence Platform (NCP), to help improve users' mobile connection experience.

My role: UX lead for the NCP product line, with assistance from UX team lead, Thomas Brady, for design reviews and stakeholder meetings. Nathan Dominguez was the previous UX lead for NCP before I joined, and he did the initial stakeholder interviews, user interviews, and early wireframes.

Activities: User research, persona creation, prototyping (using Invision/Marvel), usability testing, design reviews, and visual design.

Background

Typically, the NCP suite is sold to mobile network operators and large enterprises to help them improve their users' mobile experience. There are several components to the platform, notably:

The team wanted to explore opportunities to now offer this technology directly to consumers, in the form of a native iOS and Android app.

User Interviews

Note: Nathan Dominguez planned and conducted these user interviews. I was not involved at this point.

Initially, the product team wanted to focus on a specific problem scenario: dropped calls on voice and video calling apps (like FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, etc.) during transitions between Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

To get a better understanding of this problem, Nathan conducted 5 user interviews with people in our office. The team did not have a lot of time and budget for user research, so we stuck to internal people.

Here are some of the overall insights we gathered from these interviews:

Personas

I felt we had enough research to start creating personas to represent different potential user groups. Based on the user interviews, I broke down the users into 3 different groups.

The one thing that stood out was how people with different data plans acted differently. If someone has a small data plan, they don't want to waste any of it to save a little inconvenience. However, someone with an unlimited data plan wouldn't care if they used extra data to improve their experience.

Early Sketches

Based on direction from the product team, I began exploring how we could use our existing technology to solve the following problems for users:

The technology mostly works in the background to solve these 2 problems. So the important questions to consider when building this app were:

First Prototype

Now, I started building a high-fidelity prototype for the app, holding regular design reviews with engineering and product, and quickly iterating on feedback from the team.

We ended up shelving the "preventing dropped calls" feature for the MVP, and focused on preventing users from getting stuck on slow or unstable Wi-Fi.

User Testing

Now that we felt we were in a decent place to move forward, I pushed for the team to let me do user testing with our prototype. After comparing a lot of options, we decided to run 3 remote user tests with UserTesting.com.

Goals:

We screened for users who had experienced specific problems with Wi-Fi on their phone. I watched the user testing videos and compiled a report outlining specific recommendations to address issues.

Results

Recommendations

Research Survey

Before moving forward with software development of the application, the product team wanted more data to validate the business case.

We decided to run a survey to understand what problems users currently experience with internet connectivity on their mobile phones. I did my best to keep out leading questions and "would you" questions, as these types of questions will only bias the results.

This was our survey plan. We would reach out to 100 random users through a service called Pollfish.

Here are some of the major takeaways from the survey results.

Our main takeaway from the results was that inconsistent Wi-Fi connnections were the most common issues with users. Another interesting result was that Android users tended to be more frustrated by this problem, and they experienced it more frequently.

Implementation & Iteration

The project was approved to move forward to the development stage, however, the team wanted to take an iterative approach to building out features and release an MVP as quickly as possible.

We had to decide what features to cut to shorten the development timeframe.

Proposed MVP 1

After consulting with the team, they wanted to move as fast as possible, so to cut down on UI work, I created an alternative prototype that could be built using native UI building blocks without any custom UI development work.

Proposed MVP 2

As the development team worked in agile sprints to build the MVP, I supported them by providing assets, answering questions, and quickly iterating on the design based on technical constraints. "Handoff" is not a one-time event, but a continuous process requiring input from product, design, and engineering.

It was at this point in the project that I left Carnegie Technologies. I did my best to leave the team with the proper assets and documents they would need. The team is currently building the product and I'm looking forward to it's release in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.