Ericsson UX Board
Like many large and mature organizations, Ericsson's portfolio of products has built up over the years, mainly through acquisition. This tends to result in a highly inconsistent user experience across applications. Even if an acquired product has a strong UX team and design process in place, their practices may not align with those of Ericsson, and product branding will certainly not conform to corporate standards.
To address this, Didier Chincholle - Global UX Lead for Ericsson Business Area Digital Services (based in Stockholm, Sweden) formed a UX review board.
I was one of a small group of contributors, who were tasked with evaluating design practices across the organization, as well as disseminating best practices to all UX teams. Two of the Stockholm team members worked full time on project. The others (including myself) were distributed around the globe, and contributed 20-30% time to UX review and process enhancements, while acting as design lead on an Ericsson product. I was UX lead on Granite Inventory (renamed Ericsson Adaptive Inventory).
Design Review Process & Tools
The design review board evaluated products at regular intervals:
- Following initial discovery and concept definition phase,
- Roughly midway through implementation, and
- Around time of release. (teams work 2-4wk sprints, but enterprise software on a 6-12m release cycle.)
At those times, the team (lead by their designer) would provide information on the product, and their UX process, at least one week prior to the review. For the online review session, the team presented the information they provided, demo prototypes and/or product they had, and fielded questions from UX board members. Each session was between 1.5 and 2 hours.
During each session, products were reviewed on the following criteria:
- Usefulness: Evaluate steps the team took to verify value and demand for this product. This includes discovery phase artifacts, like personas, scenarios, storyboards, journey maps, and the like.
- Usability: Review actions taken to evaluate the usability characteristics (discoverability, learnability, performance) of the product. What user testing has been done? What was learned? How did they influence design iterations?...
- Branding: Rank product's compliance to Ericsson branding guidelines for things like fonts, colors, logos, page layout patterns, and interaction patterns.
For consistency and efficiency, the UX board used UX checklists, style guides, and templates to evaluate products against. All teams had access to these items, to assure they were aware of the assessment criteria.
Within one week of the review, the UX board produced a UX report card for the product. In that, usefulness, usability, and branding were each ranked on a clear 5 point scale. This gave a quick executive overview of a product's UX health at that moment, and over time - for products that have gone through multiple reviews. Those ratings were backed up by detailed notes from reviewers, that the team could choose to take action on.
This was an evolving process. The UX board used retrospectives, and feedback from product teams to continuously improve reviews. Much of that revolved around sharing and communication of design standards, guidelines, patterns, templates, and processes. Review board members, like myself, worked with a small team in Stockholm responsible for documenting design best practices. This included processes, tools, style guides, page design patterns, and templates.
Design leads were responsible for sharing and applying corporate design best practices to the product teams they worked with. We would also communicated new ideas, and updates back to the Stockholm team for consideration.
This process lead to greater consistency across Ericsson products, and raised overall design literacy across the organization. This was quite an accomplishment for a company and large and distributed as Ericsson. The group grew considerably in scope and responsibility in the first year. Eventually we held biannual UX meetings in Stockholm, where designers from across the company came to demo projects, and discuss ways to improve UX of all Ericsson products.