People ignore design that ignores people — Frank Chimero
For the past 3 years, I have focused on enhancing the user's journey through Ideagen's growing SaaS platform. This has not been a clear-cut set of requirements, with additional challenges coming from the migration of thousands of customers from legacy platforms and the constant interruption of acquisitions landing in the business.
Despite this, it was imperative that the department had a strong direction to aim for and so a unified UI was quickly identified as a key part of the puzzle to overcoming these challenges.
Enabling full access to systems and websites should be an ethical choice. However, sometimes it takes commercial facts to engage C-Suite level stakeholders. I have successfully campaigned for the inclusion of WCAG 2.1 requirements to be 'baked in' to all projects in my current organisation. This involved taking on the voluntary role of Accessibility Coordinator and taking myself and members of my team on IAAP training. I am currently preparing for my Accessibility Practitioner exam.
Facilitating a number of workshops and an early-stage design sprint, I brought the team to define a set of principles that must be applied in all areas of the design system. This involved the creation of proto-personas, interviewing customers and service delivery experts within the business. Following commercial requirements for increased automation, the UI became much more 'human' and the Helix Design System was conceived.
Tooling was switched from Sketch to Figma at this point. Lockdown had hit hard and the many benefits in collaborating in real-time through Figma made this process much less painful.
With a relatively large development function spread around the globe, the need for concise documentation was identified as necessary. To achieve this the documentation was moved to Zeroheight as this enabled better Figma integration and proper semantic versioning. The documentation is publicly available at www.helixui.com
The constant acquisitions required for a number of front-end technologies to be catered for, so the system was designed as framework-agnostic. This brings its own challenges, but has enabled the implementation of the UI in Angular and React so far.
A User Research Programme is now being put in place to ensure all assumptions and decisions made can be measured and validated. Due to the cautious nature of a customer base involved with Audit, Risk, Compliance, Quality, Health & Safety and Environment, direct user involvement has to be carefully balanced against indirect observations through aggregated data observed via the Fullstory telemetry system.