Autodesk Fusion 360 is a cloud-enabled CAD application, where designers and engineers create design stored on cloud. The application sets itself apart from other CAD applications with the project based design collaboration, public sharing, version management, and cloud-based services like rendering and viewing.
Since all data is organized in cloud for users to access, users are faced with these basic challenges while accessing the data to work with:
- Where do I start work?
- Where is my data?
- How do I bring it in here?
- What can I do with this data?
- Clarify the problem and focus on Fusion users
- Stick to the experience principle, yet stay flexible to user feedback
I led the envisioning process, worked as a UX team member to create concepts and specs, l`ed on-going user research, and worked with development and product managers for delivery.
The project started with 2 weeks of envisioning. The new experience was released 8 months later.
Understand the problem
Leading up to this project, we have been diligent collecting the feedback internally and externally via variety of methods: stake holder review, user interviews, and customer focus group sessions.
The stakeholder review was conducted based off from Jeff Gothelf's "Lean UX". This helped the internal people to align with the product direction and understand the gap between now and ideal. Focus group sessions got us information about the ideal experience that users come to expect in a group setting. User research gave us insight into how users currently work.
Ask a question: What if
Phrasing the solution space with "what if" frees us from commitment, yet it offers scope to think about the solution (refer to Jeanne Liedtka's Design Thinking approach). Hey, we are at the envisioning state, anything should be possible but not everything.
The root cause of the problem was the frequent context switch between accessing data and editing the data itself. Many people mention their discontent with the current product by stating, "I have to go to dashboard to find my data." "I have to go to dashboard to check for version update.", "I have to go to dashboard to ...", and you see the theme. Based on the insight, we cast the "what if" question to frame the solution space.
In the spirit of Lean UX, that is we learn fast as we go, we invited a few external users and internal stakeholders to go over the design idea. There was a somewhat of panic that time because we had to prepare the test and incorporate the learning into the design within a few days, not within a few weeks. The goal was to can come up with an executive proposal by the end of the same week!
To "manage the panic", I had come up with the quick test goals before I gather around the UX team. We divided the task based on the task goal, and tested with the prepared mockup on the next day.
The test results revealed that we solved biggest issue with the current dashboard: "Where is my data?". By putting the data access side by side with the tool, users had clear visibility to the data that they need.
Lead with principles, adapt with user feedback
Have you ever walked into a 2-feet deep snow field in a mountain, where nobody ever created a path before you? - I did.
Following the vision, where our product is solo in the CAD industry, is exactly like that. There is a fear that we are going in the wrong direction. There is a fear that our design is so new that our users are not ready to accept it. However, belief is not the right wisdom in the process, like you won't blindly walk into the virgin snow field in the mountain.
As a team, we had experience principles, which we strive to follow in every design decisions that we make.
We adjust our course based on user feedback. We had a weekly user session, where we tested our ideas, prototypes, and code.
- Help users get to work as soon as possible: Users have a certain expectation when they start CAD software for the first time. Taking them to the design space right away, matches their expectation.
- Build in transition: When we switch context, populate with new data, or popping up new events, we strive to build in transition so that users are always oriented in it.
- Objects are the form of transaction: The form of data itself should suggest what you can do with it.
We are confident that we addressed the fundamental issues come from ourselves offering access to data to users. We are moving on to the next stage of collaboration on data.