CAPSTONE PROJECT WITH BLOOMBERG
For our Capstone Project, my team designed Bloomberg Connect, an iOS application that provides Bloomberg employees frictionless access to people while on the go.
As part of the Master of Human-Computer Interaction program, I completed this eight-month long capstone project with Bloomberg. My team was tasked with radically rethinking the calendaring and scheduling system at Bloomberg, a global leader in financial news and software.
The project was divided up into 2 phases: Research and Design. During the Research phase, which lasted from January to April, we conducted research, synthesized our data, and extracted findings. From April to August, we generated & tested concepts and engaged in an iterative design process to refine our strongest solution.
We conducted research both to learn about the calendaring and scheduling tools available and to understand the role that the calendar plays for Bloomberg employees. During the research phase, we conducted literature reviews, competitive analyses, subject matter expert interviews, contextual inquiries, and sensory association sessions. Sensory association is a method our team developed to gain a deeper understanding of the emotions surrounding scheduling at Bloomberg.
We observed a strong culture of transparency at Bloomberg, which is exemplified by the fact that all employees have public calendars. However, we found that existing tools do not meet the needs of the transparent and fast-paced workflow.
SYNTHESIZING THE DATA & EXTRACTING FINDINGS
Once we gathered our data, we used models and affinity diagrams to make sense of all the information we collected from our research.
Below is our tension map, which helped us visualize the different desires, feelings, and overall opinions that employees have at Bloomberg.
From our models and maps, we extracted the following:
- Information about people, rooms, and available free time is scattered, which leads to an inefficient workflow.
- Simple tasks are hard to do on the run, so people have to wait to complete tasks when they return to their desks.
- People have their own workarounds and ways of using their calendar. This creates clutter on the calendar, which leads to misunderstandings.
- People don't release rooms, so others waste time looking for conference rooms.
We found that problems such as these culminate in a larger problem: people do not trust the system. This lack of trust leads to wasted resources and directly defeats the purpose of transparency, which is an integral part of Bloomberg's culture.
We began our summer design phase by generating ideas for improving workflow, scheduling, and overall well-being for employees at Bloomberg. We created storyboards for our strongest ideas and tested these concepts using the speed dating method.
From this testing, we found an opportunity to create a mobile solution, as the existing mobile application was not meeting employees' needs. We generated design principles to guide our work:
- Make it actionable
- Prioritize relevant information
- Keep it open and transparent
- Leverage the mobile context
We also knew that our solution should consolidate all of the information and functionality that employees need in order to complete scheduling tasks on the go. Otherwise, the these interactions would be time-consuming and frustrating.
CREATING BLOOMBERG CONNECT
After exploring possible concepts, we decided to create an app that helps employees accomplish three main goals:
- Organize the cluttered calendar
- React to changes as they happen
- Find a place to meet
In order to support those needs, we developed eight features. Our goal was to seamlessly integrate these features in a single application so employees can find the information they need without disrupting their workflow.
We created five iterations: one paper prototype, three medium-fidelity interactive prototypes (created with Axure), and one high-fidelity interactive prototype (created with Axure and Sketch). For each iteration, we tested with at least five participants. We traveled to New York to test three of our versions (we were able to use Bloomberg's state-of-the-art Usability Lab), and we tested the other two versions with classmates and business professionals in Pittsburgh.
Here is how one of our features, following a meeting, progressed over the iterations. With this feature, employees can keep events on their calendar that do not show up when others look at their calendar.
Below are the major changes we made to the notification screen.
To find out more about Bloomberg Connect and our eight main features, take a look at our project website.