This is a year-long capstone project of the MHCI program at Carnegie Mellon. The client, Portugal Telecom (PT), has different sub-companies for Mobile, Internet, TV, and IT-services. Each of them has their own website, which made managing services difficult for enterprise clients who usually have hundreds of services with PT. I worked with 4 other team members to understand how companies manage their telecom services in order to reduce work for both PT and their clients.
We conducted Contextual Inquiries with 21 users to understand how they add/modify/cancel services, solve billing issues, and contact PT. We also performed retrospective reviews with small to medium sized companies since they don't manage their telecom services as frequently.
To know more about PT's relationship with their clients, we sent out cultural probes to client managers on PT's side, recording what clients contact PT for so we can better support or automate their mundane tasks with our design.
The main finding from our user research is that clients call their client managers daily for almost everything, from checking the end time of a contract to asking for complex proposals. Clients also detest surprise charges. They require easy access to the information they need instead of calling PT all the time. We also found that small companies manage their services differently from the larger ones, so our solution has to be scalable and customizable.
With the findings in mind, we focused on reducing calls to PT's call center and client managers. By reducing calls, both the client and PT would benefit from the time and resources saved. To achieve this goal we came up with three concepts: self-management, partnership, and PT Initiative.
PT Portal will enable users to manage and monitor details without calling PT provide background information, such as ticket numbers, for each call to facilitate the conversation help users by alerting them about upcoming bills or service disruption.
For the first iteration, we used a paper prototype to explore four different navigations quickly. One navigation organized information by services, another one by actions, and the other two by tabs.
During the user testing sessions, we played the role of the computer, switching papers and post-its in response to user actions. Users performed the same tasks with 4 different navigations, and from the result, we decided on one navigation based on what we observed.
In this iteration we put in more interface details and used Keynote to make an interactive PDF for user testing. With the built in transitions and iPad stencils for Keynote, our prototype felt like a native iPad app. Users found it easy to interact with and were able to perform tasks much faster than the last iteration.
However, it took a while for some users to find the tabs we designed following iPad Design Guideline. We concluded that this problem was due to users' unfamiliarity with the iPad and the lack of visual design at this stage, thus making the black tab hard to be distinguished from the black iPad frame.
The goal of the last iteration was to test the visual design and data content of our fully functional app. The most challenging part was to come up with a good metaphor that doesn't violate the iPad Design Guideline.
The homepage shows usage visualization, request status, all the services and bills, and buttons to make new requests. All the information and features are immediately accessible within one tap. We used folders as the metaphor for services and bills since they are the physical artifacts users usually use to organize their telecom services.
We made the folders bigger than default tab icons to solve the visibility issue we mentioned above. Additionally, the categorization of the folders is flexible depending on the variety of services a client has with PT. The app also provides transparent request status, showing the current and future steps. With PT Portal, clients have access to and can manage all the information they need in one place without the intervention of PT.