Fourth App Global Navigation

Examining how to unify a suite of products through a cohesive navigation system
BACKGROUND

Fourth provides customers with a number of applications to perform various hospitality functions such as receiving their goods or counting their stock.

Fourth also provides customers with HR solutions like viewing payslips and requesting holiday time. The issue is - these functions exist in separate applications and when a user enters one of these applications, i.e., Stock Count, they are unable to navigate to another application because our navigation system does not allow for this behaviour.

To put this into perspective, Fourth roughly offers about 10 applications that could be used possibly by a hotel or restaurant on a daily basis. Imagine having to login through a single sign on, navigating to an application and then being unable to leave that application for another which contains the next action you’d like to do…not a great experience, is it?

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Bringing logic to chaos

As product managers and owners began to realise the impracticality of the situation, I was asked to review, research and find a solution that could lead to a global navigation for the Fourth application family.

To get started I created use cases from both a Head Chef and General Manager point of view and then reviewed the use cases with the Lead Designer on my Team. With the use cases completed, I then researched the various actions available from all of the 10 applications that could have ‘connections,’ or opportunities for users to want to jump from one application to another.

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I started out scribbling out all of the various apps we had, their actions, and the potential 'jump-off' points one app could have into another. This exercise was to understand which apps belong into more closely related families - i.e., a chef will probably bounce from the stock counting app into the ordering app once they realise that they're low on a particular product.



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To demonstrate the magnitude of how many apps we have and their inter-related actions, I created a node chart to display how the apps began to cross over into each other.

Brainstorming with the team

With these actions done, I asked my team if they would participate in a brainstorm of ideas based on the information and research I had uncovered. Between us, we came up with a number of sketches and ideas for a global navigation. We reviewed the ideas and discussed the merit and downside to each concept, and were able to narrow it down to roughly three sketches.


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From the sketches, I began to create a few low-fidelity wireframes on Sketch. After creating this wireframes, I decided to prototype two different ideas. The feedback from the internal testers was a preference for the ‘springboard’ or quick link design. Since the prototypes were very rough designs, I wanted to expand on the feedback and create additional designs that could improve the experience of jumping into applications quickly.

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Testing the new UI

After I created two different prototypes (traditional side drawer view, springboard view) the was result from internal testing was that people found it easier to navigate with a springboard UI. With this in mind, I wanted to set up a date with testing a more refined prototype with the real end user, i.e. - the everyday people that work in hotels and restaurants.

With some luck I reached out a representaive of a large hotel chain who was excited to partake in the testing of the new prototype. I refined the prototype to meet the business goals of allowing users to navigate smoothly between applications, but also updated the visual design to promote a unified look across our applications.

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