Students expect educators to provide them what they need to excel. Similarly, educators expect McGraw-Hill consultants to provide them the information needed to adopt the right titles and leverage digital solutions in the classroom.
While consultants try to support everyone on campus, from department heads to teaching assistants, their applications were painful to use. The pain stemmed from three areas: huge amounts of data, disparate systems, and the need to have everything at their fingertips, even when offline. Examples of these painful tools included two iPad app’s that were rarely ever used.
A typical consultant is tasked to follow over 2,500 courses and over 6,000 educators associated with those courses. They have to be able to reference all of the books applicable to those courses and be knowledgeable about the varied print and digital solutions available.
Imagine trying to connect to the VPN on your laptop while you walk down a crowded campus hallway. Or running across campus to catch a professor during their office hours, all while sifting through a catalog of over one million titles.
The design of Artemis has overcome these challenges, saving valuable time; enabling consultants to efficiently complete tasks and find information.
Our vision for McGraw-Hill was “an iPad app built by education consultants for education consults”. In retrospect, that mantra became the most important success factor for this project. A diverse group of McGraw Hill consultants were involved at every stage from visioning, research, and requirements workshops, all the way through design reviews, prototype testing, and the development sprints.
Through the ethnographic research we observed how fluid the consultants day was, in contrast to how the business described it. We learned how the consultants all tried to manage their daily plan around the professor’s office hours. Every consultant used pen and paper or a third party app to take follow up notes for all the activities they couldn’t easily preform on campus. We observed their interactions and uncovered what information the professors asked for during a visit and cataloged what follow up activities were most frequent.
Combining our research with analysis of their data, it became clear that consultants most often thought about their contacts and searched for titles based on the course. Through that analysis we also uncovered piles of duplicate data that were created when consultants couldn’t find the appropriate record.
When we asked if this app was important we heard quotes like:
“this app is going to change the role of a rep, from doing what they hate, all this administrative, to doing what they love, helping people” Adam Rooke – Area Manager
90% of the users surveyed said this app was valuable because it was going to make them more efficient. As an example, Artemis is 3 times faster at entering office hours. Now take that 1 interaction and multiply it times 6000 contacts, then multiply it times all of the consultants and you end up with an estimated 5000 hours per year that have been liberated. Now take that example and multiply it times the 7+ other features we improved and you can imagine the impact.
The McGraw-Hill management team is ecstatic, as they see data integrity improve. Greg Graham, VP of Sales Operations said, “the simplicity and elegance of this application, this will become the hallmark of our culture”. “We can now achieve our aspiration of being a data-driven organization”.
The design achieved these accolades by unifying disparate systems into a single view, structuring information in context, and embedding controls to simplify the overall user interface.
Workshops brought together end users, business owners, and IT to help define the user journey map, pain points, and user stories. Research uncovered the importance of notes, inefficiencies with daily planning, and the need to group data around the course.
Understanding that consultants only work one campus at a time, we required the user to first select a campus. This immediately reduced the quantity of CRM data for all subsequent views by 90%. Other efficiencies came from the contextual user flow, demonstrated by office hours in the context of a contact search.
We eliminated clutter by embedding controls into contextual gestures. Allowing consultants to double tap targeted contacts and swipe right to check off visited contacts. The McGraw-Hill brand was embedded throughout the experience, with flashes of red, exampled by interaction animations.
A clickable prototype was built for usability testing, which confirmed our key assumptions and uncovered some challenges that were adjusted before going to build.
Because a consultants day on campus is unpredictable, a fluid interaction model was delivered that can support a variety of scenarios. Relying on context to remove steps and create efficiencies.
One consultant said, “this app is so smart, it actually thinks for me”.