Platform Users of Present and Future
Uptake was starting to build its core data platform, and another researcher, a designer, and I were tasked with understanding the users of the platform and designing tools to support their work. While deceivingly straightforward, the task quickly increased in complexity as we encountered obstacles in definition, access, and time.
Due to my non-disclosure agreement with Uptake, I cannot discuss the content of my research. However, I can speak generally to the process we used to conduct the research.
First, we had to define who would be considered a user of the platform. To approach this task, we learned about the structure of the platform and identified all the instances in which human interaction would be required with it: (1) when onboarding the customer data that would be ingested by the platform, (2) when monitoring the data flow for issues, (3) when building APIs consuming data from the platform, and (4) when using the apps.
We set up interviews with key internal stakeholders for the data platform in order to understand the structure of the teams that were in place to support the platform. What quickly emerged was that the existing teams were either not envisioned as the teams that would support the platform in the future, or their roles were projected to change with time. The interviews pivoted to discussions of “job postings” - if someone was being hired now, tomorrow (in the near future), or later (in the far future), what would be their role and responsibilities?
We mapped this information back to the four instances of human interaction with the platform and identified internal users and proxies for future users. I took charge of conducting interviews with these roles and validating the information we had learned from stakeholder interviews with the reality of users’ work. For (2) monitoring the data flow for issues, we also conducted interviews with external counterparts that internal roles interfaced with for issue remediation.
These interviews led us to realize that since the platform was not entirely built out, even if we had talked to the projected users, there were a lot of hypotheticals in their answers because they were describing how they might interact with a tool that did not exist yet. In addition, there were some anticipated changes to workflow from the replacement of external legacy systems that was currently in the pipeline.
The designer and I sat down with all of this information to (a) synthesize the research into validated, hypothetical, and assumed user knowledge and (b) create a prototype for (2) monitoring the data flow for issues, which was the most mature in its progress.
The project (at least for my internship timeline) concluded with conducting testing to receive initial feedback on the prototype.
I created user profiles and proto-personas for the user knowledge that had accumulated over the course of the project, and summarized this project in a deck. This deck included a “user map” of the validated and hypothesized platform users in the present and future, per those four instances of human interaction; design implications based off of the initial prototype testing; assessments of user value for each instance; and future considerations based on the various changing parameters for this ongoing project. I presented these findings to the key internal stakeholders for the data platform.