Usability Internship with Alstom Grid

Methods used: User interface analytics, user interviews, survey creation and analysis.

Overview


Alstom Grid is a company that specializes in producing equipment and software that support electrical infrastructure for industries such as transmission utilities, wind-farm grid connections, and railways. Recently, they created a user experience team in order to create new interfaces for their software products. During the summer of 2013, I was brought on as a user research intern to conduct research that would help Alstom better understand its customers as well as gather valuable feedback about how customers were currently using their products.

Process


I first started off by developing a survey that would allow us to determine how receptive current users were to potential new interfaces. While there were multiple iterations of the survey due to multiple revisions, I was able to produce a survey in time for the Alstom Grid User Group Conference. It was at this conference that I deployed the survey, and was able to gather valuable information about our users. Afterwards, I developed a report detailing our user base, and presented it to my mentor.

Screenshot of a portion of the survey.

Screenshot of a portion of the survey.

Besides preparing a survey, I also developed a high fidelity prototype in Axure. This prototype was based off of Illustrator files that my mentor had created. I utilized dynamic panels, interactions, and conditions in order to make the prototype appear as real as possible. This prototype was then demoed at the Conference and was used to demonstrate to stakeholders what a new interface could potentially look like.

Version 1.

Version 2.

Version 3.

Version 4.

Version 1 of the prototype.

Version 2 of the prototype.

Version 3 of the prototype.

Version 4 of the prototype.

Along with the survey and high fidelity prototype, I also conducted user interviews at the conference. This was usually done after demonstrating the prototype to stakeholders and offering them a Starbucks gift certificate in return for their time. Through these interviews I was able to gather valuable feedback about how users felt about the proposed design, and what they wanted to see added or removed from it.

Takeaway


Through this internship I learned a lot about user experience research. The experience I gained in survey design, interviewing, and high fidelity prototyping was not only helpful, but also gave me a valuable footing for future classes and jobs where I had to do this type of work with little to no supervision.


© 2017 Jonathan De Heus