Building an organized space that gives users flexibility and control over their work schedule.

Currently in live beta on the web and iOS/Android, ShedWool is a free staff scheduling software monetized through Facebook ads. They came to us to improve usability and organization of their current employee-facing application. I was one of three UX designers assigned to this project. Over the course of three weeks we conducted user research and usability testing to deliver mid-fidelity wireframes, clickable prototype, revised IA, and interaction design recommendations. Working on ShedWool taught me how efficient organization of information directly impacts the successful use of a product.

Understanding the landscape

Before speaking with users we completed a usability heuristic evaluation and identified key areas that needed testing and restructuring.

We conducted usability tests and interviews with both managers and employees currently working in the restaurant and retail industries. We aimed to understand current attitudes and experiences toward the scheduling process. Testing with our users uncovered key points for improvement in the existing product:

Our interviews revealed much about the lifecycle of a schedule from writing to execution. In addition, we discovered the goals, needs, and stressors for both staff and management throughout the process.

Through this exercise, we weighed the importance of each point of the cycle and identified the area of most stress for employees – the time from when a schedule is posted, through schedule changes, to execution of assigned shifts. One user described trying to get shifts moved around and covered:

Our users taught us that the manager is the gatekeeper of the schedule. And though existing digital solutions, like Hot Schedules or When I Work make communication easier between staff and managers, it creates a new problem. The clarity of direct, verbal communication is lost when all the discussion and approval happens remotely. So, even though the process is easier with digital solutions, users are still left with anxiety about the status of their schedule and who knows what. Simply put, managers expect employees to coordinate schedule changes and employees want a simpler way to get a “yes” or “no” on their requested changes.

Defining the problem

It was clear that shift work environments try to mitigate the stress of fluid schedules by assigning regular shifts, managing infrequent changes and empowering employees to work with each other to get what they need from their schedules. Current digital solutions eliminate the need for all decision makers to be present when negotiating solutions for scheduling conflicts but lack the immediacy and visibility of in-person communication.

 

Staff and managers need a way to assess the current state of scheduling changes in order to relieve anxiety and reduce miscommunication around shifts and expectations.

Testing and iterating

We developed paper concepts to test our ideas for solving this problem. We conducted three rounds of concept tests with five users. After each round of testing, we iterated and expanded on the individual concepts based off user feedback. We chose this approach to reduce the amount of iteration needed once we drew up our mid-fidelity prototype in the final sprint. Each round of testing had some overlap of tasks and questions, but focused on understanding the users’ and necessary content organization.

 

Through testing, we learned what features and content employees want from ShedWool.

The final product

Synthesizing feedback from testing our divergent concepts and the current version of ShedWool, we drew up wireframes that included elements and interactions that tested well with users.

  • A full week view with the option to zoom in on a particular day or zoom out to a month overview.
  • The ability to see the status of each shift or request at a glance through color or      notification indicators.
  • To complete all shift related actions from the My Schedule view. The visibility of total hours scheduled and worked in a given work week.

 

We focused our design efforts on the My Schedule and Time Off views. Thorough testing with our paper prototypes gave us a solid foundation for building our mid-fidelity wireframes in this final sprint. We conducted two rounds of usability testing and needed only minor tweaks to the wireframes between rounds.

[Click here to watch a video demonstration of ShedWool]

Outcomes

  • Users felt the interactions were intuitive and guided them easily through tasks.
  • Users liked that they could complete most of the in-app actions directly from the “My Schedule” view.
  • All participants completed all assigned tasks on the final concept compared to     the initial testing on the existing product where 2 out of the 4 participants failed     at least one of the tasks.
  • Time on task was greatly improved on each assigned task.

The final handoff

In order to ensure a smooth handoff of materials, we created documentation to effectively communicate our design decisions and process to our client. We drew up both a current and proposed app map to communicate the changes made to the IA.

We also annotated the wireframes for use by both the current development team and future UI and UX design teams.

Since we were just one step along the way for ShedWool’s advancement, we gave our client recommendations for future research and consideration.

 

NEAR TERM:

  • Rebrand ShedWool to better represent the values and purpose of ShedWool.
  • Implement the horizontal week view and day and month alternative views.

 

LONG TERM:

  • Conduct testing with users who may have two employers who use ShedWool.
    • How will they navigate the two logins and schedules?
    • Could this be visualized from the same calendar view?
    • Could a user toggle back and forth between logins?
  • Develop and test tools for the non-English speaking population.
    • Consider translation tools or preset messages.
  • Implement time-clock integration.
    • Track hours and pay for employees and labor cost for managers.

 

Our clients were grateful for the amount of work we accomplished in our three weeks together. We gave them direction and focus as they prepared to enter a four-month accelerator program based in Colorado. Working on this project gave me confidence in dealing with clients and communicating user feedback in a way that is constructive and actionable.

Existing hybrid application.

ShedWool

We used this evaluation to focus our questions and testing with users.

I put together an illustration of the timeline, communication, and stressors of the schedule lifecycle to communicate our findings to our client.

The biggest change to the overall structure of ShedWool was the addition of a Month View and a Day View on the employee schedule. These different views give the user more flexibility and control over their ever changing schedule.

We annotated each screen to communicate design decisions, user interactions, content placement, and various element state changes.

Proposed concept for ShedWool.

Bibi

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