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We like to observe our clients in their work environments. Sound intrusive? Maybe. But this is what user experience practitioners do. It’s our job. Understanding our users’ goals and behaviors is imperative and factors prominently in our product design.

This is how we developed Backstop’s new and improved Activity Screens (think Meetings, Calls, and Notes). We used a time-honored process that involves putting the user at the center of everything.

  1. First, we meet with our clients and watch them in their work environments. This is to understand what works well and what doesn’t.
  2. Next, we meet internally to make sure we understand our users’ requirements and how those requirements align with our users’ goals.
  3. Then, we talk to internal stakeholders and subject matter experts to develop solutions. One thing we always try to remember during this stage is that while we can come up with a lot of great solutions, the key is to come up with the solution that’s right for our users.
  4. After we develop an initial prototype, we bring the user back into the process, getting their feedback on what we’ve created so far. This can involve surveys, brainstorming, workshops, or innovation stations at our events. This step produces very rich feedback, because it shows us how users really expect things to work.
  5. We use this feedback to further inform the design process as we move towards a more concrete solution, iterating as needed as we determine where we’re adding value.
  6. Once we’ve arrived at a design, we beta test it with clients who partner with Backstop to use the solution in their workplace, within their work routines, so they can give us feedback on any additional changes that might be needed.

Of course, our process isn’t as linear as I’ve described it above. As we iterate and learn what users need, we sometimes have to jump back a step or two. While many might think the process is just about creating solutions, it’s really more about understanding users’ problems. We’re not just addressing users’ pain points – we’re looking to make their lives better.

I’m excited to have unveiled and rolled out our new Activity Screens to the entire Backstop client base. The new Activity Screens include many improvements that we believe will enhance our users’ lives, such as:

  • Built-in forgiveness – when our users make an error and attach the incorrect entity to an activity, we make it easy to change
  • The option to keep the original source formatting when copying and pasting within a note
  • The ability to perform “mouseless” activity entry – with only a keyboard
  • The ability to track email notifications by date

I’m proud to say that I don’t just look for clients. I’m looking for long-term partners. When users are willing to be long-term partners, they help us make continuous improvements that create lasting benefits for us both. If you’re a Backstop client who would like to be a beta tester for us, let me know. I would be happy to make your life easier, too.

By Kevin Leebroderick, Director of User Experience