Case Study: Corporate HR Forms Site

(Download all documents for this case study here.)

Sharepoint can be a great tool when you work with developers who really understand it’s power. I was lucky enough to recently work on a project with some talented SharePoint developers. We took something that was notoriously difficult to use and made it simple.

Background

This was a small project that was part of a complete makeover of a large corporate HR intranet. The first thing that I noticed when joining the project team mid-project was that the number one issue for users was the inability to quickly locate HR forms they used on a daily basis. The current project plan did not address this issue. 

With that in mind, I set out to work with the team to address this issue quickly and completely so that the release date of the project would not suffer.

The Problem

Hundreds of forms, some repetitive, exist as simply a list of links on a Sharepoint site. Make the forms searchable and easily accessible in a matter of a few seconds versus a few minutes.

The Solution

Learn how users refer to these forms in a decentralized environment where it’s possible that one form is referred to in as many as 5 different ways, and then create a database that is easily searchable, returning the correct form choices to the users in a matter of seconds.

The Methodology

This project started with the creation of personas based on information collected from a third-party survey of users, as well as through a small sample of user interviews. Personas were created, and some conclusions were drawn about basic needs for the new forms database.

 This project started with a card sorting activity of a sample of users. Users were recruited through existing relationships with people on the project team. A detailed testing document was created to guide those leading a card sort test for the first time in how to do so.

Users were asked to sort a stack of cards with the names of forms on them into piles that made sense to them. Then they were asked to name those piles with names that made sense to them.

The Data was collected and synthesized into a large spreadsheet. Included in this information was comprehensive tagging information.

Wireframes were then developed and passed on for review. After wires were approved, they were passed to development that put them into production.

The final product was released and is now in use.

The Results

Currently only anecdotal evidence is available. Users report that they can find what they are looking for easier and more quickly. They are also less likely to download a form to their desktop, which leads to forms being used that are out of date. Workflow has improved as a result.

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Reporting Examples of Test Results

It’s not just enough to conduct user testing, it’s also important to be able to synthesize the results and present them as actionable recommendations to clients and partners. A few examples of my reports, both formal and informal, follow.

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WFM-U 3.0

Whole Foods Market University re-design, currently in production.

The goal of this redesign is as follows:

    • Increase usability of current site based on feedback from user interviews, testing, as well as heuristic evaluation.
    • Decrease the team’s dependence on the IT department to maintain the site by using a customized WordPress installation.
    • Allow users to create assessments and track the scores using a customized assessment plug-in.
    • Design for future compatibility with mobile delivery in a retail environment.
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