The EY Atlas application is the main global online resource to access accounting and financial reporting literature, including external standards, EY interpretations and thought leadership.
This project was initiated because end users are facing issues when navigating the Atlas site and we would like to design a new method to browse on Atlas that will improve the overall experience. Surveys and feedback from end users had indicated there are problems with the navigation and browsing features within the Atlas site. The user audience for this project was both internal and external users of Atlas.
Therefore the scope of the project was to address all pain points that are associated with category and sub-category pages associated with the following areas of Atlas
The final deliverable would be a high-fidelity visual design with annotations that the development team would use to complete their work.
To successfully complete the project the following process was used…
The Experience Design Group in EY Assurance had spent time developing a process that was comprised of the phases below and each phase was comprised of set of tools that were applicable to that phase. Depending on the project work and timeline, resources etc. the Experience Design Group would choose the appropriate phases and tools that best made sense. i.e. While the Experience Design Group would love to always go through the full design process it understood that that doesn’t always make sense so the most appropriate phases and tools would be used.
The Atlas Browse project was a really good chance to use the Discovery phase and to that end a meeting was set up with the 10 stakeholders on the steering committee which was in charge of all final decisions for work prioritization, design solutions etc.
For the Discovery meeting I was involved with the creating of the questions script that was used for the meeting. Because the stakeholders time was valuable and we knew many of them would want to offer their feedback we sent out the questions prior to the meeting so the stakeholders could review them and have some thoughts in mind and be ready to offer them at the meeting.
There is a tendency for wanting to get right to UI design we let the users know we wanted their mindset to be one of “Fall in love with the problem, not the solution”. We also let the stakeholders know that we value their feedback as part of the different points of view we were trying to collect feedback from. Previously there had been user surveys performed for both internal and external users.
The Discovery meeting was held and recorded. The feedback gained from the stakeholders was positive and everyone contributed their own ideas as well as adding to the ideas that other stakeholders offered. After the meeting I went through the audio and took more complete notes that recorded in detail what the stakeholders said.
The Experience Design Group had stakeholder feedback and user surveys in hand but we also wanted to perform user interviews as well. I created our screening document that was used to recruit users from the EY Champions group. The Champions group is a Yammer chat group where people go to pose Atlas questions and the Champions answer them. We were able to recruit 7 participants for our user interviews.
Once we had our users to interview I created a question script to use for the interviews which were going to be 30 minutes in length. For the questions I made sure to keep them as opened ended as possible at the beginning so I could get an idea of how the users were using Atlas to browse content, why they would come to Atlas in the first place to use it as well as having them go through the last time they used Atlas to find content. For that part of the interview I let the users know to describe in as much detail what they were doing and why they were doing it (i.e. “talk out loud” while walking through your process).
The interviews went well and I was able to adjust questions depending on the feedback I was getting or in some cases I would drop a question because while answering an earlier question the user also answered the question I was going to ask.
At the end of the interview I also asked some standard questions to have the user specifically talk about what they like most about Atlas, what frustrates them the most about Atlas and if they could make 2 or 3 changes to Atlas that would help them perform their tasks better what would those changes be?
After the first interview we noticed that we needed to adjust the question script by adding 2 more questions that asked about the information architecture and taxonomy more specifically. This was so we could get a better idea of how well those two areas worked for the users (i.e. did they intuitively understand the structure of the content and how it was labelled)
Finally, like the discovery meeting all of the user interviews were recorded (with the user’s permission) and I went back and took notes on each interview to get into writing all of the feedback the users gave us. The plus side for me was that by really listening to the recordings I was able to more fully understand the users. And because I listened to the recordings back to back I was able to hear the patterns and themes in the feedback (the interviews were spread out over 1 week).
The Insights phase of the Experience Design Group’s process is where we take all of the feedback and data we have and look at it to see what the strongest patterns and themes are that highlight the pain points and frustrations the users are experiencing. This meant combining the feedback and data from the following sources:
There was definitely a thread that ran through all four data sources and that thread was a confirmation that users were having problems finding content. For users there was a lot of on the job learning of Atlas and time and experience helped them to learn better where to find what they were looking for. If the users we looking for something they had used previously finding it was not so much an issue. However when the users only had a general idea of what they were looking for or if it was the first time they were looking for something it usually was much more difficult. Users reported that they would seek out help from co-workers if their search for content started taking too long.
Another thing learned from the users was that one area of Atlas, the Topic Pages, was not really used much at all by the users. Most commonly heard was that the users “just didn’t think to use them” or they “didn’t use them in the past so they just did what they normally do”. So that was an interesting piece of feedback i.e. overcoming the inertia of how users currently do something to change their behavior.
Also, from the users I learned what they do to try and shorten how they find information. I saw where they went to get a better look at the Global Audit Methodology content and the informed me as to how the higher level structure was hiding information that the users needed to get their search going. Another piece of information was that some users would download a spreadsheet of form information and use that to search for forms and they could use the information in the spreadsheet to then go back to Atlas to find the form they were looking for. So it’s always interesting to learn from the users their workarounds that they create to help themselves.
To conclude the Insights phase I created a spreadsheet comparing and contrasting all of the feedback from our 4 sources next to each other. From there I created a report that I presented at our weekly sync meeting. The report summarized the findings across the main questions we asked and gave the summary answer from the feedback to the question as well as the XD recommendation. The report concluded with the next steps we would take in the Conceptual Design phase.
Our Conceptual design phase is just beginning currently and is going to be comprised of creating Use Cases that cover how the users will approach finding content in different situations and Task Flows that show the path in the Atlas of how the users get to the content.
Additionally I have scheduled meetings for a white boarding session to start coming up with some initial ideas on how to update specific parts of the Atlas UI to help make it more intuitive to the users as well as better organizing the content on the pages (in addition to deciding what content should be on the page).
Finally I have scheduled a meeting with Senior EY audit staff that are knowledgeable in the structure and naming of the accounting and audit procedures used by EY. This meeting will hopefully go a long way towards making the current information architecture a little less deep (feedback from the users was complaining about “far too many clicks to get to the content”) and more easily understood (feedback from 2 interviewee’s stated that the upper levels of the content didn’t really make sense to them and seemed to be hiding the content they wanted to get to)
TBD, we’re currently working towards this phase and have not reached it yet
The project is currently ongoing and the Discovery, Research, Insights and Conceptual phases have all contributed to the Experience Designs Group's understanding of the problems the users are experienceing. The work has also allowed us to focus in on the specific parts of Atlas that need be redesigned. That work is ongoing and is scheduled to be completed on time as of this writing.