Examples of 3Leaf Projects
UX Redesign for a CLAI Payments product
Suppose you’re an international company with a bread-and-butter legacy product that is core to your continued success. Finding scalability in an expanded market place can be extremely challenging.
CLAI is an international financial services software company based in Chile. They decided that it was time to get some high-quality UX help and reached out to 3Leaf. We’re more experienced than our competitors at simplifying complex technology and business problems, so it was an excellent fit.
We began our project with a few weeks of intense discovery deep-dives - defining both the business use cases and the user needs. These highly informative, fast-moving, multi-lingual sessions led to the second phase: wireframing and iterating through design concepts. Finally, we created a high-fidelity click-through prototype to illustrate the new product vision.
Grokstream ui Modernization
We always love the opportunity to collaborate with startups working to solve complex problems. Grokstream is a startup in Dallas building a very sophisticated tool for devops and CICD use cases.
When a startup prioritizes important engineering objectives in its early days, it’s easy for some of the UI level priorities to slip through the tracks. Often when companies similar to Grok find themselves in the traction phase of their startup lifecycle, new priorities emerge reflecting the desire for their product offerings to have broader market appeal.
With recent goals of UI modernization, we helped our friends at Grok envision some newer approaches to UI and data displays. If your team has built a tool with impressive functionality, you want to make sure its able to make an impression that does justice to the value it brings.
System Design for LISC Data Management
It’s always a pleasure collaborating with our good friends over at January Advisors. The incredible social relevance of their work continues to give me hope as a technology professional. In this particular project, we were tasked with designing the entire data management system for a network of community centers within the ecosystem of LISC organization.
Essentially, the idea is this: large national organizations (in this case, LISC) distribute funding to a multitude of many smaller local organizations. Local organizations - in turn - must keep track of multiple sources of funding, a ton of meta-data associated with that funding, and are required to periodically report on the effectiveness and impact of their events. This might sound relatively straight-forward, but when you see the Excel spreadsheet system previously utilized by the smaller community offices, you quickly realize the opportunity for improved clarity and efficiency. Deadlines, reports, pictures of events, follow-ups, inconsistent terminologies, changing lists of contact information, and other factors contributed a lot to the complexity of this project.
The vast scope of this project required that we make good use of planning and methodology. Working in single-week sprints, we kicked off with a series of discovery workshops. This allowed us to quickly acquire and organize the core concepts (at least in terms of how users and stakeholders viewed them). We then went through several weeks of deep user research. Our activities included on-site visits, naturalistic observation, semi-structured interviews, concept testing, affinity diagramming, contextual inquiry and task analysis.
Our second phase was dominated by context scenarios, rapid wireframe iteration, and cognitive walkthroughs. In these kinds of projects, the default probability of getting things wrong is naturally high. It’s only through careful application of UCD methodology that it becomes plausible to design optimal solutions for these complex scenarios - on an accelerated timeline.
Our final phase focused on documenting our design decisions. To a scrum practitioner, it may see a bit waterfall-ish to produce a massive spec document for your client, but there are a few things that can make such a deliverable work well: (1) constant communication throughout the research and design period, (2) making sure the design anticipates probable areas of change, and (3) abandoning the illusion that the spec document is the end-all-be-all until the end of time. The last part is important, because it allows the receiving team to view the specs doc appropriately: as a guide that clearly presents the conceptual structure of the new system being built. The priority is to optimally define the aspects of the system least likely to change. It also provides enough specific direction that the designs are immediately actionable by the development team (site maps, screen anatomy, component behavior, screen flow, etc).
My whole team was excited by the positive implications of this project. We hope to see the impact of this rare opportunity to apply our UX talent to bettering the lives of the everyday folks in our communities. Contributors on this project were: Valerie Howard (UX Architect), Dr. Christina Oko (Sr. UX Researcher), Catherine Walker (UX Research Analyst), Olivia Moten (Visual Designer) and myself (Principal).
The ‘Houston Social Services Database’
My team had an opportunity to work on a project that has great potential for positive social impact: a tool that helps people find the social services they need. A reader may be thinking that this tool sounds like something that should already exist. After all, the concept is pretty basic We can already search to find places to eat, watch movies, work or purchase things - so why would social services be any different?
To be fair, it does exist in many ways: for example: there are social workers, non-profit organizations, and humanitarian groups in most cities. There are also resources for finding help, such as public libraries or even just the internet. Amazingly however, it’s surprisingly difficult for people to find the social services they need. Even when people do manage to find a service that meets one need, there’s often no easy way to find resources to help with their other needs. For example: “I found a shelter, but where can I find jobs training?”, or “Is there a food pantry within walking distance of the clinic I located?”. For reasons largely specific to the world of social work, this kind of information easily becomes obsolete. By extension finding reliable data - when it’s needed - is often very difficult.
The talented data scientists and developers at January Advisors built a prototype of a web tool to solve this problem (with the help of another excellent team of subject matter experts who work in the world of social services). After they succeeded in building a tool with impressive functionality they contacted 3Leaf Consulting for expert UX guidance.
The project required an ultra-fast turnaround, so our team focused on delivering a set of basic yet very consequential design improvements. With short timelines like this, we like to apply a condensed version of our 3Leaf method, which results in the same deliverables as normal (strategic UX guidance, design specifications, ad hoc personas and scenarios, styles guides, downloadable visual assets, etc.) yet with a level of rigor scaled down to the appropriate scope. Our solution focused on nailing the key requirement of allowing users to quickly and easily find the social services they need. We also anticipated where the product will likely grow (in terms of functionality) and tailored our designs to have “growing room” in those directions.
The final result was a excited team of developers and data scientists eager to improve their product based on their new UX guidance. The contributors on this 3Leaf project were Valerie Howard (UX Architect), Victoria Cooke (Visual Designer), and myself (Principal). I look forward to seeing where January Advisors take this very exciting project in the future!
Tracts.co Software Refactoring
Our team at 3Leaf had the pleasure of working with a very impressive local startup here in Houston called Tracts. They have a talented team, a great idea, a working product and a growing customer base. The leadership at Tracts was prudent enough to understand that having a strong user experience in their digital products was necessary for maintaining a competitive advantage.
The initial software was built to accomplish some very practical and straight-forward use cases. As the user base expanded to include additional job roles, so grew the need to reconsider the structure of the software. We started with personas. By properly crafting an appropriate cast of personas, we were able to design the software in such a way that every type of user would be able to accomplish their tasks in a way that meets their own specific needs.
We carefully restructured the screen flows and architecture such that the product could easily grow in the right direction. This meant that the 3Leaf team had to acquire a strong understanding about the intended direction of the product. This restructuring was based upon a greater clarity around the mental models of each intended user. In other words: the software presents information in the same way its users think about the information. The guiding mental models were based on the insights we gained while working on the project.
Finally, we provided our client with everything they needed in order to enhance their product according to our designs. Development teams require very specific guidance on many levels (information architecture, visual design patterns, etc.). This collaboration with Tracts resulted in critical enhancements to their already successful software. Sometimes taking your product to the next level requires bold reconsiderations of your existing product, and reimagining the way you present your solution to the your users.