OUP: My Account / Account Services
I was the UX Lead on centralised account and student enrolment services for Oxford University Press’ digital platforms.
Working as part of an Agile team alongside an interaction designer, I was jointly responsible for:
- Communicating the product vision and customer journey
- Developing user journeys and screen flows to illustrate platform integration points
- Designing wireframes and interactive prototypes
- Creating and maintaining a design system (style guide & pattern library)
- Conducting user research and usability testing
This was a new strategic platform for Oxford University Press. One of our objectives is to save teachers time in their set-up and teaching using OUP’s digital learning material. This requires integration with platforms that deliver this content.
We adopted the following UX process for working on this product:
- Vision and strategy: working in partnership with the Product Owner, I helped establish the product vision and strategy for integrating with existing platforms. Having worked at Group-level for six years, my holistic view of OUP’s digital platforms and products helped shape the direction and priorities for the product. This was backed up with evidence and insight from user research and existing product analytics.
- User research, personas, and analytics: user research was conducted during the early stages of the product, including user interviews and formative usability testing with low-fidelity prototypes. The insights gleaned through this were used to devise persona profiles, and to inform the overall product design and information architecture, including some key labelling and information organisation changes. I combined this evidence with data from the analytics for the first product we were to integrate with to set objectives, establish priorities for the product backlog, and set future research questions.
- High-level concepts and designs: as we entered design sprints, I worked alongside the interaction designer on high-level design concepts. Often this started as sketches to explore various approaches, which we could discuss with the rest of the team, before narrowing our focus to a couple of ideas to take forward into more detailed designs.
- Patterns and design components: we took an approach of designing a series of re-usable components, and for each user story would illustrate how the patterns should be followed, re-visiting and iterating the patterns as needed. At this point there was no established design system at OUP, so I began to consider how our work could be adapted for other platforms, particularly those that we were to be integrating with. Our design system is now gradually being introduced to new products and educational platforms.
- Wireframes and prototypes: the interaction designer and I created wireframes for each user flow, and a low-fidelity interactive prototype (using Axure RP) for key pages within a sprint, to aid with communicating the intended design to the Product Owner, Solutions Architect, and other team members. Taking more of a lean approach, for smaller features we would reference the overall pattern and explained how it should be adopted, using user flow diagrams and sketches where necessary.
- Elaboration workshops: the whole team would attend at least two elaboration workshops for each design sprint. During the first workshop we would discuss the required outcomes and intricacies of each story, and then I would explain our intended user journeys and design ideas during the second and/or third workshops. During this time, I would also be in close collaboration with the Product Owner and Solutions Architect to check the feasibility of our ideas.
- Style guide and developer collaboration: at the end of each design sprint, we would begin work on any necessary additions or changes to the style guide to support the development sprint. I would speak regularly with the developers to explain our design ideas and make further refinements based on their feedback and suggestions, such as how to handle additional scenarios the interaction designer and I had not anticipated.
- Usability testing: while usability testing didn’t feature in every sprint, we would conduct formative usability testing with our prototypes as often as possible, typically every 4-5 sprints. This allowed us to test our assumptions, evidence our design decisions, and suggest changes for the backlog based on our findings. We took a lightweight approach to testing, favouring discussing findings as a group over documenting within a detailed report.
- QA testing: I would assist the Product Owner in signing off on the delivered designs, checking that they were interpreted correctly and matched our expectations.
I faced multiple challenges working on this platform, many of which related to legacy systems and the existing, fragmented nature of OUP’s digital ecosystem, few of which shared consistent designs or similar user journeys. I have been working with other product and UX teams to introduce standards and consistency across platforms, either at the point of integration or as new products are introduced.
We also discovered the limitations and trade-offs of adopting a single authentication solution, such as issues with integrating a web-based Sign In page with native mobile apps. I am working with the Solutions Architect to establish an approach that should fulfil user needs whilst following the strategic objectives and security requirements across multiple channels.
While user research was conducted at the start of the project, ideally this should have become an ongoing activity happening in parallel as the product progressed. We conducted semi-regular usability testing, but I am campaigning for this to become a more frequent activity across all Agile projects, and for tools to be introduced to reduce the effort involved.
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