Support Case Resolution for Network Engineers
Helping expert network engineers resolve and visualize their Cisco products on a smartphone
In the summer of 2019, the Cisco CX Design Team was designing the Cisco CX Cloud Portal, an online web portal where IT engineers can onboard, debug, and glance over their Cisco products. With this project came lots of questions about a potential mobile application - what would it do? Would it look like the web app? With these questions in mind, my co-intern and I researched, designed, and prototyped a mobile application for the CX Cloud Portal.
Hearing from Experts
I came into my internship knowing very little about network engineering - during my first week, my manager had to give me a crash course about how the Internet works! One week later with just a little more knowledge, my co-intern and I began conducting interviews with expert network engineers.
From interviews with network engineers who use Cisco products daily, we learned how they currently use enterprise mobile apps for their jobs as well as any expectations they would have for a CX Cloud Portal mobile app. Overall, they voiced concerns regarding:
With less screen size and smaller buttons, it can be difficult to navigate through mobile apps.
Phones might be connected to many networks rather than one VPN, creating implications for network security.
Margin of Error
It's a lot easier to accidentally press the wrong button on a phone than on a laptop. The stakes are even higher for one's job!
These insights revealed that the mobile app would be most successful if its interactions were in tandem with the web portal. As a result, we prioritized use cases that involved some web usage that could be augmented with the affordances of a mobile app.
A common use case that could be augmented by a mobile app was resolving customer support cases. I validated this with a storyboard based on several customer stories that came from our initial interviews.
In this storyboard, Ned (the Ned-work engineer), uses the mobile app to resolve and complete a support case from home. He efficiently completes a responsibility for his job, without having to open his work laptop or go to his office.
Ned’s story not only communicated the reasoning for my direction with stakeholders, but it also helped me build context and understand what affordances to prioritize in my designs.
Designing for Experts
Now with a clearer understanding of network engineers (and the internet), I felt more confident in my abilities to design for expert users. I dove into low, mid, and high-fidelity designs by directly addressing the three user concerns from the beginning of the summer, all while keeping the context of Ned’s story in mind.
The following are some recordings of a high-fidelity prototype I presented at the end of my summer, told from Ned's POV.
In my first prototyped interaction, a tap on a push notification brings Ned directly to the target screens he should interact with, thus decreasing the time spent navigating through his mobile app.
I then prototyped an example of Ned's chat interactions with a Cisco representative. Ned feels more trust in his mobile application, knowing that a real, authorized human is handling his Cisco products.
Margin of Error
With some Invision finesse, I prototyped a map-based filtration system to help Ned narrow down to just the products he needs to worry about, eliminating the chances that he'll tap on something he didn't mean to tap.
I presented this project to stakeholders within the CX design team at the end of the summer. Afterwards...
I expanded my internship into the fall. This gave me time to iterate on my work and finalize documentation for hand-off.
The team hired two full-time UX designers to head the mobile application project my co-intern and I had started.
These mobile application designs were presented to the VP of CX, who gave them high praise.
Given this was my first design internship, I learned quite a bit.
Designing for Experts
This summer, I learned how to approach design problems in expert fields like network engineering, and how to get to the root of their user needs despite our differences in knowledge.
Web to Mobile
Going from web to mobile doesn’t just involve making things smaller! I learned the importance of optimizing information architecture and visual design when making this transition.
Given this was my first design internship, I gained lots of new tools and methodologies, from storyboarding to Sketch.