Online platform for an Internet of Things employment and education service
Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility wanted to create an online platform to support their initiative to educate the next generation of Internet of Things Specialists together with their strategic partners. I designed an online education platform to be tested in a pilot run for the program. What I did was:
- Interviewed key stakeholders
- Created a strategic vision for the program’s platform
- Helped define key events on the desired customer experience for the program
- Presented ideas as a prototype that presented a user journey in an interactive way
- Tested the prototype with internal resources, subject-matter experts and stakeholders
- Refined the solution by iterating on the prototype and presenting to key stakeholders
- Lead a team of interaction and visual designers in the creation of an MVP platform for a test pilot program
- Kept an open conversation at all times with all key stakeholders to address and integrate their needs and feedback
- Interfaced with the development team to make sure functionality aligned with resources, platform capabilities and completion timeframe
I also helped CSR create a future vision of the program as an interactive prototype, allowing stakeholders to understand the ideas and the functionality of the proposed solution by experiencing it first hand.
I was tasked with the creation of an online platform to support a comprehensive education-to-employment pilot program that addresses IT workforce skill gaps and prepares students for emerging IT careers in the digital economy, and empowers them to harness a $19 trillion global opportunity.
I started by meeting key stakeholders around the company (educators, technicians, project managers, directors, former students of the Cisco Networking Academy), and by sketching a simple idea of an education program platform would be like.
Research and Personas
For needfinding, I started with a quick 1-week user interviews with prospective students from a similar Cisco program named Cisco Networking Academy. With this brief research I created what i called proto-personas, with which I started framing the conversation regarding the needs for the online program.
I then created a simple prototype to help walk the key stakeholders through the process and get effective feedback about the experience, since first hand information about the process would be fundamental for the success of this project.
Iteration 1 prototype
I continued iterating on the prototype and regularly meeting with key stakeholders to refine requirements and validate needs.
I also started socializing the prototype to get feedback from a larger audience, and started doing very simple, informal usability testing hallway sessions with instructors and students of related courses at the Cisco Networking Academy.
Iteration 2 prototype
At this point the team has grown to include a Design Manager, in charge of the high-level picture and planning, while I kept leading the creation of a web app for the coming pilot program to be held in the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.
With the help of a User Researcher, we created a set of sessions where participants from the selected cohorts will be interviewed and then presented with the current prototype, in order to validate our ideas.
From this research a series of personas were created and all requirements were aligned to our findings.
Design sprint deliverables
We then brought in a design agency named Idean to help us define the style and visual language of the online platform.
I lead a series of 6 weekly design sprints that covered the larger areas of the online platform: Forums, Dashboard, Student Profile, Lesson Pages, Project Pages and Student Assessment.
A team of one Interaction Designer and two Visual Designers lead by me started working every week on the wires for one of the sections and, staggered, the visuals for the section completed the previous week.
We hold stand-ups every other day and a weekly sync with all Project Managers and key stakeholders, where we would get their feedback and suggestions and align with specific needs from parallel projects: job board, sudent assessments, learning management system and education platform.
Cisco SkillZone – Final Prototype (HTML/CSS/JS/Bootstrap)
I then started having tri-weekly meetings with the development team that started building the interface. Since they had access to the final fully-functional prototype they already had a precise idea of what they were building. In our meetings we went together through the site and solved together any minor or major issue they might run into.
Thanks to the team work and the collaboration level, we were able to build the whole site in less than 5 months with a team of just only 3-4 developers.
I also took advantage of the working prototype to present to other stakeholders and managers, and to conduct further testing on subject matter experts and other individuals similar to the target audience.