Organization: Proformative, then Illumeo
Design Problems Addressed: Proformative, later re-branded as Illumeo is an on-demand video training platform, with several hundred courses. Users enjoyed the course platform and the quality of the courses, but many were having difficulty finding and deciding on what courses would be best to use. This correlated with feedback that the continuing education credit acquisition process was a bit random, and difficult to tie to user goals in effective training.
Measuring Success: The executive team felt that if they could improve use metrics, number of courses taken and satisfaction expressed by users through course ratings, they would have definitive success in the project. The outcome would also need to be fully mobile responsive, to answer the need for any device, any time use.
Project Process: A new tool to assess user competency so that gaps could be filled through training was proposed. Greg Stout the CTO began engineering the back end while Kevin started the process of wireframing what the UI might look like. John Kogan, the CEO and a former four-time CFO, organized the process of building the benchmark content for each job title that would make the whole system come together as a powerful tool for finance career analysis. After several rounds, including some excellent ideas for the initial assessment UI, the cross-functional team arrived at a plan as the back-end and content came together. It became clear that there would be three key user problems: data entry, data analysis and follow-through to action. So they decided on three key phases of the user experience: Assess, Analyze and Improve. There would also be two modes: self-assessment, and structured employer assessment.
Assess: The data entry part was fairly obvious: users would need to understand what each competency meant, and how to rate themselves (or employees). So the team built the rating part to include a hidden but easily exposed text guide for each competency. Greg had an excellent idea for how to layout the input controls, which Kevin then wireframed in detail. To avoid confirmation bias, they decided it would be important for users not to see the benchmark data until they had honestly assessed their own level of competency for each item. So Analysis would end up having three phases: Initial data entry, where progress forward is not allowed until all items are rated; job title entry, with an interactive job title selector including auto complete and a pick list; followed by a view of ratings vs. benchmarks, with brightly colored guide lines, red for under and green for over, and various controls for showing and hiding all the relationships, and allowing for peer ratings in the structured employer assessment mode.
Analyze: Greg identified Highcharts as an excellent vehicle for data visualization, and did the primary engineering to get it working in this context. The team would end up outputting the analyzed data into a number of charts on the Analyze page to give users multiple views of their competencies and different ways of thinking about where they are at professionally. The radar chart is by far the sexiest chart, so it gets the most prominence. In this chart, the overlaying green represents ratings of the user, with a background red area representing the benchmarks, so that where the red shows through, it is obvious there is a gap. Additional pie and bar charts break down the areas of competency and number exceeding or falling short. There are also sections suggesting potential actions for the data, and a list of items over and under benchmarks.
Improve: In a way, this last phase was the whole point, both from a user perspective and from the perspective of Illumeo’s business: Get on to training to make competency improvements that actually benefit careers, rather than just filling time, as so many CPE and other training programs do. Illumeo integrated an existing course discovery feature with the assessment tool header to create a seamless experience that provided a list of courses that addressed each of the competency gaps, rated for beginner, intermediate, or advanced study.
Results: Feedback from test users, experienced corporate finance people who were long-time users of the Q&A and webinar platform, were overwhelmingly positive. The team made a few tweaks based on this feedback, and a few adjustments to mobile views. Illumeo saw improved engagement in courses in the wake of shipping this product as well, and an increase in positive ratings for courses. Kevin was especially satisfied by positive reviews of the mobile experience.
Future Possibilities: Where it gets really interesting is in the corporate context. Managers can have an entire department rate themselves, so as to see where the team strengths and weaknesses are. This can then inform hiring, promotion and project assignment to improve on departmental weaknesses and strengths. Proposals include having a master page with radar and other charts for each employee, making the process of visualization more seamless and facile.
You can take a free self-assessment to fully experience the tool for yourself.