Since this project is still being developed for their end client (NDA signed) I will talk abstractly about some of the most important points rather than going into anything in detail.
This contract was initially one of the hardest I have ever been. Not only from my perspective but from all the UX Designers involved. The challenge didn’t reside on what was expected but since some of us have join edit after a year of in-depth product development and so the concept, the acronyms, the intricacy of features and legacy work that had been done prior to our arrival felt like trying to grab a moving train with one hand.
Also, from a UX perspective, this project had some of the biggest technical limitations I have encountered which quite often led to the possible path rather than the ideal one.
There were also some organizational challenges as the team was so used to working without a UX Designer that finding the right path, workflow, and agreeing in the correct Agile order of events was a bit choppy at the start.
As opposed to the previous contract I have done with Salesforce where it was predominately based on User Research, in this MVP project I have contributed mainly within the solutioning, designing and iteration phases.
As Salesforce works within a modular framework, I was briefed that the idea is to try to use an Out Of The Box approach and so custom development should only be left in absolute last resort.
Although it’s very difficult for a contractor to understand what the possibilities are out of hundreds (if not thousands) of available modules when there is not a centralised place where they all reside, I have tried to tackle the issue by reading some of the articles in their confluence, constantly navigating through the Salesforce sandbox as well as becoming acquainted with their design system, tone of voice, etc.
As it was my first-time designing contract for Salesforce, I have encountered extreme technical limitations that follow the work on this platform.
The reason being is due to a very constrictive modular framework that, on a plus side helps speeding up the development and customisation process, but on the downside it gives very little leeway to design iterations especially on a more user centric approach. As such, most of the work was a team exercise between me, the technical architect, the technical consultant and the developers on trying to find the best 3rd or 4thsolution rather than the best one.
Another alternative to overcome these issues was to also provide multiple design solutions (while providing my UX recommendation) to then further discuss it with the team.
After understanding how the technical limitations could impact design consistency and user centric design, throughout the whole contract I have created a total of 3 in-depth design analysis throughout the whole platform to undercover and possibly tackle some of the most dramatic usability and aesthetic issues.
Due to the short available time for development, avoidance in custom code development and standardisation of some of their global user journey practices, very few of these considerations were resolved but I believe they were useful on future iterations of this product development since they were still at the MVP phase.
Either way, quite a few considerations were taken on board and even re-designed (to be used on a global scale) in future SF projects.
Although I have presented most of my designs in high fidelity and accompanied by prototypes, as mentioned in “Technical Considerations”, the convoluted and limiting design process didn’t follow the stereotypical Double Diamond approach.
This also meant that a fair number of designs were provided in low fidelity (digital as well as pen and paper) and even in excel spreadsheets as their modular approach already has pre-determined fields with next to no customization available.
Although a year and a half of development has passed, this project is still in its infancy. However, this very fast-paced contract was still very interesting as it gave me the opportunity to do some solutioning on integrating and consolidating some of the client’s legacy tools and technologies into their new Salesforce CRM.
It was a drop in the ocean as they have plans to roll out this project for at least another 4 years, however I think that some of the best practices we have helped implementing will be of great use as it keeps evolving.
Unfortunately, the extreme technical limitations didn’t let the organisation achieve the true user centric potential that it could have. Hopefully some of these issues will be addressed after the MVP is complete and they start Phase 1 of the development process.