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  • UXL | User Experience Lab

Evolving an Essential Daily Tool

“Part of the deliverable UXL provides is inspiration and a methodology for doing it the right way. They start by uncovering the issues and purpose of the product. They don’t just add nice features. UXL solves business problems.”
–Alexey Patsko, VP Products, Managing Director Europe, Customertimes

Customertimes (CT) is a technology company that has helped over 200 clients in life sciences, finance, retail, and insurance improve their sales, marketing, and customer relationships.


CT engaged UXL to help envision the future of CT Mobile, a Salesforce-based mobile application that is used daily by retail sales representatives from diverse industries to service their flagship clients.


In a short but powerful field observation and collaborative design process, UXL helped clarify the product mission, devise solutions to pain points that maximize usability and efficiency, and prioritize design and development efforts.


UXL’s research-based plan and product design improvements establish the foundation for the next generation of this essential tool.




Part 1 – UX Research


After a brief planning phase to learn about Customertimes’ business, competitors, clients, and target audiences, the work began to refine the course of CT Mobile—a mobile retail sales application—with a refreshed product mission and supporting design priorities. Gaining a genuine understanding of users was the foundation of that process.


“We design based on facts, not on assumptions and perceptions. We design for real users, not for ourselves. Who are the sales reps? What is their daily work? What are their goals and challenges? We want to step into their shoes, walk a day with them, learn how they work, and then find the common patterns among them to inform and improve user experience for all of them.”
Daniel Lafrenière, User Research

UXL began with a contextual inquiry to understand the typical day of a CT Mobile user. We joined and observed sales reps for different brands as they planned their day, traveled from store to store, met with customers, and used their tools. We focused on key questions such as: What tasks are they performing? What other tools are they using to do their jobs? What are their needs and goals? What is difficult, complicated, or time-consuming? What do they like and not like to do?



“We were on the spot with sales reps every step of their work day. We wanted to learn what they were doing to prepare, what kinds of things happen during customer visits, and how their day concludes. We were with them in their cars, in the aisles, with their customers watching what they were doing and how they were doing it. This is where we learn the real stuff. This is where we capture the knowledge to design for real user needs.”
Daniel Lafrenière, User Research

“If you take people out of their environment and ask them what they like and don’t like or what they do, they’re going to tell you things, but they may not be the important ones. What we want to know, for example, is what do they have to carry with them or what takes longer than it should. These real-world observations can point directly to ways for us to improve the tool.”
–Julie Fortier, Managing Partner, UXL

To round out the day-in-the-life perspectives we gained from observing sales reps, we also interviewed business stakeholders from key accounts. These conversations helped us further understand the business needs fulfilled by CT Mobile as well as the issues clients have encountered and improvements they wish to see.


We then analyzed our research findings from both our contextual inquiry and stakeholder interviews to formulate an affinity map, persona, and user journeys to make the most of our upcoming intensive collaboration with the CT Mobile team.


In the affinity map, we bucketed our research findings to help translate them into insights. Buckets included needs, tasks, tools/artifacts, and challenges.


We created a persona of a CT Mobile user that would help the team put a typical day’s tasks and activities into a real-world context.


UXL also defined a user journey comprised of key workflows in a sales rep’s day so the CT Mobile team would have a starting point for prioritization from most to least critical.



Our analysis was followed by a two-day collaborative design workshop with 12 of CT Mobile’s product owners, engineers, and designers.


Read on: Part 2 – Collaborative Design



Part 2 Collaborative Design


“When clients are managing their products day-to-day, the focus is naturally on customer requests and what needs to be done now. Then the moment comes when they look at the product and say, I thought we were heading in this direction, but now we’re over there. How do we re-angle?”
–Julie Fortier, Managing Partner, UXL

Our research and analysis phase was followed by a two-day collaborative design workshop with 12 of CT Mobile’s product owners, engineers, and designers who are highly motivated to make the best product for their users. Day 1 of the workshop helped them think outside of their normal, everyday work to ask: What is our core mission? Where are we going?


By organizing research findings into user insights, the team began to see informative patterns to steer their direction.


After assessing the current tool with deepened empathy for user needs, the CT Mobile team focused on re-stating and re-aligning the product vision and mission.


“Great tools are not often built because someone said, I need x, y or z. They are built because someone recognized an opportunity to make someone’s life better.”
–Julie Fortier, Managing Partner, UXL

Day 2 of the workshop was dedicated to prioritizing workflows and co-designing prospective solutions to support user needs. The persona and user journey created by UXL helped the team understand a typical day’s tasks and activities—everything from preparing for a visit to traveling to auditing products to meeting with clients to wrapping up—in a real-world, user-focused context.


In a series of collaborative exercises, the team prioritized main workflows based on user needs and alignment with their clarified product mission.


We used a prioritization technique called a bubble sort that is not only quick and effective but fun and engaging. Learn more about bubble sorts with Adam!

The team then split into small groups to brainstorm and illustrate ideas for each of the prioritized workflows.



The day concluded by looking at CT Mobile’s navigation framework as a whole and choosing the most important workflow for UXL to design in concept and prototype.

Read on: Part 3 – Concept Design & Recommendations



Part 3 Concept Design & Recommendations


“This will define the best practices of our application for years to come.”
–Alexey Patsko, VP Products, Managing Director Europe, Customertimes

After the CT Mobile collaborative design workshop, UXL made three key design recommendations. Recommendation 1 was to improve the core interaction paradigms to align with user needs and tasks.

The challenges of the application’s navigation framework included a large menu with numerous options; many clicks required to get to the desired screen; lack of context when initiating tasks and viewing data; interactions organized around the data model rather than user tasks; and custom features not integrated into the design.


UXL redesigned the navigation framework to simplify and focus on most used functions; provide an account-based context for tasks; differentiate between account and visit-specific activities; and support multi-tasking.


Recommendation 2 was to make the UI more modern, friendly, and simple to use. UXL established an updated, elegant look and feel; provided support for custom branding and palettes for different CT Mobile clients; differentiated content from calls-to-action; applied a thoughtful use of icons; and used a custom font that is clean, legible, and lends personality.



Recommendation 3 was to develop much-needed features to support visit planning, the top-priority workflow. The challenges of the use of CT Mobile for visit planning included sales reports that are not integrated; difficulty finding notes from past visits; and no quick reference summary of client.


UXL redesigned the visit planning workflow to give a clear view up front of the day’s activities; provide all of the information the sales rep needs in one place; support plan creation with tie-ins to in-store tasks; and help optimize use of time with smart scheduling.





UXL realized their recommendations in a testable prototype to use as the basis for further design iterations toward the ultimate goal of making a more efficient, enjoyable tool that improves the lives of CT Mobile users.