Product usability enables people to complete their tasks accurately and intentionally, and without it people end up wasting precious time and energy in order to accomplish something that could be much easier. While it’s well understood how important usability is for any product/service, improving your usability might be a bit more challenging. If you’re looking to innovate your usability, using online whiteboards provides many exercises and abilities that help realize your desired experience and create tangible ways of reaching your usability goals.
In this article we will discuss how using online whiteboards can help improve your usability and talk about some specific exercises and strategies that you can employ to help innovate your user experience.
Whiteboarding exercises that help improve usability
If you’re experienced with using online whiteboards, you might already have an idea of how you can employ them to help improve your usability. If you don’t know much about them we’ll briefly explain what they are.
Online whiteboards are defined on Fresco as: “A shared, online workspace where teams can utilize visual elements in order to express ideas and collaborate together. Just like people use traditional whiteboards to communicate information to each other, online whiteboards act in the same way but are able to integrate multimedia content, interact and contribute in multiple different ways, and lack the limitations of traditional whiteboards.”
Virtual whiteboards are very versatile tools and are capable of accommodating a litany of different activities to help improve your usability, and we will outline a few important strategies below.
Virtual workshops are defined on Fresco as: “A virtual workshop is an interactive session or learning experience taught over a video conferencing tool that can be accommodated by a variety of different visual collaboration programs”.
Online workshops are some of the best educational tools to utilize either in the classroom or with your business, and can be extremely informative when discussing usability.
Virtual workshops are a great learning opportunity for people to better understand the bigger picture of a customers experience, and can almost act as a dynamic slide deck for a presentation of a customer journey map. Understanding how your customer feels is critical to establishing the usability of your product/service, and holding an informative workshop is an amazing way to keep everyone informed and aligned.
Conducting a virtual workshop is also one of the most cost-effective exercises that you can run with your team and is extremely effective at eliminating misunderstandings around the development of your usability solution.
Activities conducted through virtual workshops are inherently collaborative, allowing people to ask questions and contribute in a direct and shared manner. This collaboration helps people understand the goals of the usability workshop much better and will provide a great platform for you to launch your usability innovations.
Create dynamic customer journey maps
Customer Journey Mapping is one of the most important tools to utilize when creating new usability solutions, and there are many dynamic ways to create a customer journey map when using an online whiteboard.
When creating a customer journey map, the first thing to think about is the current state of the customer’s experience, or the “as is” phase. This first stage is all about understanding where their experience is good, where it is bad, and auditing these places to improve their experience overall.
When auditing their experience, one of the most important things to look at is the usability of your product/service. When the customer is experiencing difficulty completing a certain task or reaching a specific goal, there is always a usability issue that is blocking their progress. Whether that is on the front end or back end of your solution, usability will always be the key to unlocking the potential of their experience.
Customer journey maps go much further than just highlighting a negative point in the customer’s experience; they can create an entire journey of the highs, lows, and in-betweens that they customer feels while interacting with your product/service.
When looking at their experience holistically, you can take the positives and negatives and weigh them comparatively, enabling a discussion of why certain things are working while other things aren’t. This allows you to look critically at the usability of sections that are positive and take these elements and attempt to incorporate them into the more negative sections of the journey.
The ability to look critically at a customer journey map and gauge the positive and negative usability traits while collaborating to find new solutions is something unique to online whiteboards and a reason they are a great tool for increasing usability.
Helps align usability vision
Collaborating on a whiteboard means there is very little room for miscommunication and misalignment. Being able to solidify a vision on the same board with your team is extremely important if you are to reach a sustainable usability solution.
One of the biggest things that online whiteboards help with is creating shared vision. This doesn’t even have to apply to just usability, but in any scenario online whiteboards enable collaboration on a virtual shared space. This means that people can work together from anywhere at any time, effectively enabling full transparency of the team’s goals and progress.
This transparency is something that is very difficult to establish without a shared space, so it being an inherent part of collaboration through online whiteboards is a massive upside that can apply to usability innovations.
Helping unify the overall usability vision also provides people with a shared point of understanding, whether this be the start of the usability journey or the end goal, and allows them to operate as a team to find the path to success. Having a physical point of shared understanding means the end goal never gets lost in the middle of the workflow and you’re able to make contributions that are direct and pertinent to the task at hand.
One of the reasons online whiteboards are so effective at project planning and navigating usability designs is their ability to incorporate premade structures to the workflow. The moscow analysis is a very good example of this and is a structure that makes conducting a usability overhaul extremely easy.
The moscow analysis is a very popular prioritization board that creates clear boundaries and guidelines for the design requirements of a new project. While it’s most common use cases usually arise in product/software development, adapting it for usability makes a lot of sense considering you are prioritizing different features to highlight in your product/service.
In the moscow analysis you organize the usability features, changes, or specific details into four different categories: must have, should have, could have, and won’t have. Based on the impact that these usability features will have on the overall experience of the customer, they will be placed in the different categories and sorted into absolute necessary contributions and those that might not be as important. Additionally, there is a section specifically created to hold items that will be ignored entirely.
When brainstorming a plan to implement your usability features, it’s equally as important to understand both what needs to be included and what needs to be excluded. There are many design elements that are complete killers for usability, and putting some of these in the “won’t have” section is super important to realize the scope of your project. By organizing elements into these sections you can start planning the most efficient route to your usability overhaul and begin creating a solid customer experience.
Usability is at the core of any good product/service, and being able to create a path for a solid customer experience is easiest when planning your strategy on an online whiteboard. If you’re interested in learning more about visual collaboration make sure you check out our comprehensive guide.
This post was contributed by Fresco — Fresco is a startup focused on providing unique visual collaboration solutions and expanding the potential of virtual whiteboards