^ Up : Aravo Solutions: Aravo 3.0 Business GoalAravo Solutions asked UsableXperience for help in redesigning their current app and to create a new (3.0) version of their enterprise Supply Management Web application. We had last assisted them on their 1.0 version which was a very successful design and had been responsible not only for making the product much more sellable, but also for garnering millions in new investment. Aravo's application had undergone substantial changes in the meantime and it was time reassess where the application was at. Any recommendations that UX could provide was viewed as extremely important toward getting the product back to a user-centered focus. Our other main task was to help conceptualize and visualize the new 3.0 version and its evolution as a product. Design SolutionOur first task was to conduct an expert review, basing our framework on our substantial experience in user research and usability testing. We found over 100 usability issues in a short period of time. We were able to provide design direction and recommendations as well as a prioritized list so that Aravo's engineers could start addressing the more serious issues, as well as the easily completed less serious issues. We worked directly with the engineers to tackle the most pressing issues through prototyping solutions, providing guidance, and creating user interface specifications.

UX's next steps were to help conceptualize the new 3.0 version slated for release in 2005. We assisted the VP of Marketing in a long and in-depth customer and user research project to determine product direction and requirements. It became clear to UX that the feedback and data were urging the product to focus on problem-solving and not just business goals. We recommended a substantial shift in the core of the product from a rigid workflow pathing tool to an open and flexible collaboration platform. Our strategic focus on the user experience and problem-solving convinced Aravo that expanding their product definition would be the right step in the evolution of their product line.

We combined a user collaboration focus and a visibility-and-control theme to create the 3.0 platform concept. Our ideas were approved and the entire company changed its focus away from a narrowly-defined solution to one that would apply broadly to the problem sets within any large enterprise, creating and managing business initiatives. In presenting our proposals to the industry, every single expert that viewed our work felt that the concept was indeed accurate and needed in the Supply Chain industry.

By the end of the project, our role had grown from interaction design to managing the products from 2.x to 3.0, including authoring the marketing requirements and the engineering specifications. Benefits UX's strategic product consulting enabled Aravo to re-focus its business on solving user problems instead of just providing business functionality. The company was excited to see the results of our work, and quickly undertook the new direction that was recommended. We provided the product management execution including the user experience designs to help visualize the product's evolution. Since Aravo could now market their 3.0 product as one that could help companies management any and all corporate initiatives, they felt that their market scope had instantly expanded and could now compete on new fronts.
Examples 2.3 Expert Review
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The Expert Review was one of the most in-depth reviews we've conducted. We evaluated Aravo's product on fundamental design and usability principles. Then, we formulated 6 major categories of issues as a categorization framework. Each issue was identified according to context, type, severity, ease of fix, and priority. A substantial recommendation was made for how to fix the issue with specifications being delivered as necessary. Based on input from the engineering team, we created a ranking system that outputted a score based on the sum of the issue's severity and ability to be implemented. The issues at the top of the list the were the most tractable and yet the most necessary.
Executive Dashboard
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The Executive Dashboard enables management to track and visualize the status of all of the current corporate initiatives. Each dashboard is customizable per user type, so lower-level managers only see the initiatives that matter to them. The dashboard displays the number of collaboration projects associated with each initiative, as well as the health of each initiative. Health is based on the statuses of the associated projects. We designed a meter to monitor the overall health of all initiatives, as well as ways to visualize the progress for individual projects. Finally, a way to 'manage by exception' was placed on the dashboard showing projects (in red) not meeting progress goals.
Project Workspace
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The project workspace is the center of the user experience in Aravo 3.0. It is a deep collaboration environment that allows for freeform exchange of information such as messages, files, and other objects. Almost all of the companies that were part of the product research reported that they had substantial information-handling problems and lacked ways to adequately communicate with other groups and partners other than email and phone calls. The project workspace is a knowledge management-based framework for centralizing all corporate initiative activities and makes information more accessible, manageable, and communicable.