Hi! Lizzy here, product designer at WorkBoard.
I moved from a large company to WorkBoard, a fast growing startup, the end of last year. There were a lot of different factors that influenced my move, but one of the things I was looking forward to was defining and taking ownership of something that would inspire people.
OKRs were something new for me. On previous teams I had been on both big and small, there was some level of goal setting at the beginning of the year or the beginning of the quarter, but things were pretty loose in terms of tracking the success of these. They also were often pretty tactical and more like tasks that I needed to complete instead of outcomes we needed to drive. I often felt like I didn’t understand the mission of my team or how it related to the mission of my company.
I’ll keep it brief, but if you haven’t heard of OKRs, this stands for objectives and key results. At the beginning of a quarter, the leadership team of an organization meets to establish where they want to drive the organization. They define visionary objectives, intended to inspire the people who work for them and to set the direction. These goals then cascade to levels of teams beneath them, defining the missions of each team but still aligning back up to those top-level visionary objectives.
One important piece of all of these objectives is that they have ways of being measured to see if they are actually being achieved, aka key results.
Here are some great pieces of thought leadership on OKRs if you are interested in learning more:
One of my first larger undertakings when joining WorkBoard was to take a look at our existing OKR wizard (how people create and edit OKRs in our system), and reimagine the whole experience from the ground up. I had the benefit of being new to the team and could share the perspective with other first-time users and people who are new to OKRs in general.
We have a very human centric culture here which is extremely important when designing anything for people. The individuals and teams using our platform share their pain points with us not just around our software but around their daily lives and businesses. It goes beyond “I don’t know how to use x feature” and the conversation becomes richer, “I am spending 10+ hours a week preparing for quarterly business reviews instead of on more strategic activities”. You are on a human level with your users about their lives at work and not just about their usage of your software. This drives value for our users.
I find designing for enterprise fun and empowering because most people spend more than half of their waking hours at work. If I can make it easier for someone to do their job, I don’t just benefit the company that has purchased the software, I benefit the end-user. I help them progress in their careers. I help them have better work-life balance. I help them love their jobs.
My approach to redesigning the OKR creator/editor/wizard was to first understand where we were. There were many areas in the past OKR wizard that were legacy and built piece by piece as the company was growing.
Ways I collected insights before starting to design:
I did my best to fully immerse myself in OKR creation and editing so that my redesign would be as informed as possible.
A video of the old OKR wizard before my redesign:
Throughout this process I began to sketch and ideate with the product team on what might be a good framework for the wizard. Aligning with the team on this framework helped me to set the direction before going too far down one path.
Sketching and ideating transitioned into wireframing different pieces of content and components and where they might live on a page.
My wireframing process as I have grown as a designer and as design systems have become more of a standard device sometimes will include components from our design system rather than only grey boxes, text, and lines like the word wireframe has grown to connote. It has become faster to create what looks more like a mockup and less like a wireframe in the same amount of time.
There are drawbacks to this of course because stakeholders become more fixated on the color of something than the content itself. However, things become easier to talk about and show to users early on because it feels more real and like what they might use, rather than a hypothetical interface.
An early version of the redesign in an Invision prototype:
Walking through the early, light versions of the prototype with customers helped to shape the framework early on to cater to what made sense to people.
Some top user needs discovered included:
I think it is super important when creating new design components to be aware of different types of users, different types of devices, and different types of browsers when designing for web.
As the interface was fleshed out, the product team reached out to super users and newer users to gain further insights and course correct along the way. Understanding a person’s behavior, wants, and needs was key to making sure that this new version would be more delightful to use than the previous. I really enjoyed collaborating with customers in this fashion because they become co-designers of the product.
A human want and need for control
Optimizing for the most used case
The paradox of choice
A video of V1 of the shipped product:
A good product is always evolving since the people who use it change themselves. Pushing out this redesign means continuing user testing and constantly looking for insights, but also an expectation that not everything is going to be perfect. A willingness to adapt based on what you observe from people creates a truly human centered product.
We are super excited as we are making improvements to WorkBoard and know our users help us to drive our roadmap, prioritize enhancements, and ultimately help people manage, operationalize, and iterate on their strategy.
I would love feedback as we are growing our product design team here at WorkBoard, so please reach out with any comments or questions.