AppNexus  |  2016
A Forecasting Tool
& Perceived Efficiency​​​​​​​
Task completion time does not tell the whole story of efficiency. Perceived efficiency, or how fast the task felt, is just as important. This project showed us how visual design and information architecture affected users' perceived efficiency.
Intro
Opportunity 
Companies, like Coca Cola, send Request for Proposals (RFPs) to agencies that can run their next advertising campaign. Account managers from these agencies are responsible for deciding whether or not to bid on it within a few hours. Today they make educated guesses that are often inaccurate and cost the agency money. We wanted to change that for our customers. 
Contributions 
UX, UI, Interviews, Usability Testing, Information Architecture, Stakeholder Reviews 
Solution
A responsive web application that empowers Account Managers to use insights to make educated decisions and respond to RFPs more accurately. 
Research
The Account Managers
Our team held client interviews with Account Managers to help us better understand their daily duties and also who they are as people. We found that they are the bridge between clients and the internal trading team. When they are not coordinating with traders who are managing active advertising campaigns, they are seeking out business and responding to RFPs from prospective clients.

  - They appreciate data driven decision making.
  - They are motivated by making the company money and impressing clients.
  - They dress casually in the office, but dress up to meet with clients. 
  - They task switch often due to varying responsibilities.
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The Journey of Responding to RFPs
After meeting with account managers, we documented a visual representation of their decision-making process when receiving an RFP. 

Design Audit
It was important for us to understand the landscape of our competition within the digital advertising. As a product designer, I need to know how we stand out from the rest and help design for that. But we can also pull inspiration from products outside of our industry to understand consumer expectations. We took a look at Google Advertising, Weather Forecasting Applications, and Facebook. This is what we found: 

  -  Forecast results were visualized with symbols and colors. 
  -  The closer to present day, the more accurate the forecast.
     Ex: A weather forecast for tomorrow will be more accurate than one for 12 days out. 
  -  One primary piece of information was emphasized, like Daily Temperature (Weather) or Available Impressions (AdWords).
  -  Results change in real-time based on your inputs.
     If you change the date or type of ad, you'll see the forecast change accordingly. 
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Sketching
I spent a few early mornings in the office with my headphones on jamming to music while sketching ideas on the whiteboard. They were very quick and dirty sketches so that I could iterate quickly and easily discard bad ideas without getting attached. I showed whiteboard sketches to product managers and engineers to get their input. 

Usability Testing
We tested the designs using moderated and unmoderated methodologies to uncover usability gaps within our product designs. There were a total of 6 tests, each testing a different part of the workflow. 
The Results
People felt at ease while using the product 
"This feels really easy to use," "I like the way this is organized," and "It's so easy to find what I am looking for." This product was introducing an evolution of previous design patterns, and this was our chance to validate that we were headed in the right direction. 

Waiting for forecasts to process annoyed users 
They were unsure of when the forecast results would be ready and there was no system feedback to let them know what to expect. This was a problem. 

Unclear Labels
The experience for creating a forecast used friendly copy and questions to collect information, but the dashboard used terms that were too technical for users to understand.
How We Responded: 
Due to technical limitations, immediate forecast results were not possible. However, I did address a few concerns by showing users how long a forecast would take to process and letting them know when it was done (via a notification). Also, labeling of table headers was an easy fix for our documentation team!
The Solution
Our tool allows users to forecast availability and cost data based on a set of criteria provided by the advertiser or their account manager (creative type, audience targeting, etc.). Users can create multiple forecasts at once, compare them, and dig into ones that are most promising. When their proposal is accepted the user can easily transform a forecast into a real campaign, that will save them time and fingers crossed, money.  

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Product Presentations by Team Periscope
Our scrum team named our product "Periscope" and we showcased our branding during a day of product presentations. Stickers not photographed. 

Project Takeaways
Perceived efficiency is important
Task completion time was relatively similar to our other setup designs but we found that perceived efficiency was much greater. By breaking our setup flow into steps and reorganizing the settings to fit customer schemata it felt easier to use. 
Users like a sense of flow 
You know that sense of focus you have when completing a task? You have a goal, you turn on your music and you get to work. Hours might pass without you even realizing it. Users love this! Our design used in-line validation to help users maintain that sense of flow by letting them know when to progress and when to fix errors. 
Interaction flows save time
Creating interaction flows helps designers understand all of the edge cases that exist in a design and clearly communicates theses different states to developers. It prevents additional questions from being asked during the development process. 

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