Rehau are a global manufacturing company operating in 50 different countries. A consequence of this means they hold a large portfolio of real estate which they’ve found difficult to manage due to a lack of a centralised property database.
We were asked to create a web application and CMS for Rehau to centralise their data to make it accessible to all stakeholders and to help them make better decisions regarding the planning and maintenance of their properties.
CHOOSING WHAT TO DESIGN
We focus on designing iteratively, always for the next agreed high priority business opportunity. Whilst being a rather large organisation, Rehau is family owned with several members of the family very active in running the business. As they have a keen interest in their property portfolio, they spend a lot of time travelling around the world visiting their properties. Therefore, we initially chose to focus on delivering something of value for the users identified as ‘family members’:
Our starting point for design is to run a sketching workshop with our clients. For Rehau, we invited the key delegates from the workshop and they decided that Kasia would be the best to attend. From our team we had our designer and the frontend and backend developers who are dedicated to the project. This inclusive design process ensures a high degree of engagement from everyone working on the application, the client and their stakeholders.
At the beginning of the session we reviewed all the information we had for our chosen opportunity, giving everyone a reference to focus their ideas on.
TIP: We use a trick from the Sprint Book called ‘crazy eights’ which involves folding the paper into 8 or 6 sections to sketch out ideas. The aim is to get everyone to sketch more than one solution for the opportunity by encouraging people to think outside the box.
After around ten minutes, everyone was finished sketching so we took it in turns to explain what we’d drawn and how we’d imagine it working. Then we provided everyone with 5 sticky dots to vote on their favourite elements, at which point it was easy to see the most popular parts. For example people preferred the option of being able to filter, as well as having a free text search. As these elements were sketched by different people, we were quickly able to redraw a wireframe with the preferred search options.
LOW FIDELITY PROTOTYPE
The final sketched wireframe from the workshop was converted into a vanilla digital wireframe and shared with the group to ensure we’d correctly interpreted what was agreed.
Once we’d made final tweaks and everyone was happy, we used InVision to create a clickable prototype to take into user testing sessions.
We worked with Rehau to write a script containing a series of test scenarios. In this case we wanted to know if a family member, George, could easily find ‘Pubal House’ given the hypothetical scenario that he was planning to visit the property. We observed George whilst he used the prototype to perform the task we’d given him, and fortunately he didn’t have to ask for help.
TIP: One of us will tend to take notes whilst someone else is there to provide any support the user needs. Ideally the user can perform the tasks outlined in the test scenarios without any intervention but if they need help, that’s a sign we might need to discuss particular pain points and possibly adjust the user experience.
Once everyone was happy with the low fidelity prototype, we added the design embellishments. Rehau provided us with their existing brand guidelines so this was our basis for the final design. This was shared with Rehau staff who instantly recognised the application as an internal tool.
feedback from the team
Andreas MeissenerProduct Owner
“We have really enjoyed being so closely involved in the sketching sessions of our product. It was an efficient way to decide on its future structure and design and eliminate the less favourable options. The wireframes helped us to visualise and perfect our vision. Thanks to the InVision application, we had a clickable prototype in our hands and were able to present it to all stakeholders long before our product was developed.”
Ryan HyslopFrontend Developer
“I find the sketching sessions incredibly beneficial as they’re a quick way for me to contribute my technical experience to a solution for a particular business opportunity. This means we can iron out any misconceptions and refine potentially technically challenging ideas into more efficient solutions. Most importantly, however, is the variation in ideas from people of different backgrounds and working together ensures everyone has a stake in the final output.”
“For me, the best part of the sketching sessions is the range of ideas that come from all of the people with different backgrounds. As we include frontend and backend developers, they can say straight away if what’s suggested is feasible, which means no time is ever wasted designing something that can’t be built. Having the client involved is great as it means they’re there from the very inception of any designs and makes the feedback loops and sign off much quicker.”
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