Sprint 5: Interaction model June 2016

Andres F. Lazo edited this page Jul 22, 2016 · 8 revisions

[Research Plan] (#research-plan)
[Conversation Guide] (#conversation-guide)
[Learnings] (#learnings)

Research Plan

Learning Objectives

  • Confirm usability and category names for left-hand navigation
  • Verify content and organization of request details in list view
  • Identify motivations and preferences around sorting, searching, and viewing requests

Key Questions


  • What are the appropriate labels / categories for requests throughout the approval process?
  • Does the left-hand navigation present any problems for users? Are they able to easily find what they are looking for?

Requests page (current and new)

  • How does the user come to the requests page?
  • Do users understand what can be done from the Request page?
  • What are they trying to accomplish? Can they accomplish it with the new design?
  • How do users know what requests need their attention?
  • How do users know the status of a request?
  • What would ‘customize this page’ allow you to do?

Conversation Guide

Intro (10 mins)

Hi there! Thanks for agreeing to talk to me — I really appreciate it. My name is [X], and I’m joined by my colleagues [X]. You may already know this—we work for 18F a digital consultancy within GSA. Right now, we’re working on improving aspects of the C2 platform to make it even easier to use.

Before we begin, I’d like to cover a few key topics and give you an overview of what will happen during this interview.

Today, we’re going to ask you about your use of the Requests page in C2. We’ll start off by having you log into C2 and talk about your Requests, then we have a card sorting activity to help us understand the most useful organization of requests for you, and finally, we’ll show you a potential design for the Request page. Please note that this is not a test — there are no right or wrong answers! Your honest opinions and observations will help us improve.

Your participation is totally voluntary, and you’re free to end the interview at any time. With your permission, we’re going to record this session and take written notes. We will only use the information you share with us for research and analysis, and we will not share it with anyone outside of the C2 team. Additionally, we’ll make sure not to include your name in our notes or recordings.

We recently emailed you a consent form — did you receive it? (Do you have any questions about it?) Please sign the form and return it to us by the end of the day.

The interview should take about 45 mins to 1 hour. If you need to take a break, just let me know, and also let me know if you have questions at any point in the process. At the end of the interview, I’ll ask if you have anything else to add, and my colleagues might also ask you some additional questions. This will be a great time for you to elaborate on topics you’d like to discuss in more detail.

Do you have any questions?

Let’s get started.

Current C2 usage (10 mins) Have user launch C2 and go to Requests page.

  • How do you normally get to this page?
  • What do you come to this page to do?
  • What’s the most valuable information on this page?
  • If you had to point out two things about this page, what would they be?

Card sorting activity (15 mins)
Intro to what card sorting activity and what we hope to learn from it. Emphasis on tasks user visits the Request page to complete.

Have user visit: http://ows.io/os/tj6bjk18

  • Review and organize these 30 requests
  • Is content missing from the cards that would be valuable?
  • Walk me through your organization
  • Why are these categories helpful?
  • What information are you looking for when you come to this page?

List view (10 mins)

Have user visit: https://invis.io/2Q7TBA48B#/170573551_List-LeftNavB-All_Copy_8

  • Take a look at this page. Tell me about what you see.
  • What can you do from this page? How would you use the navigation on the left?
  • [Requester] Imagine you are waiting for a request to be approved. You haven’t heard anything and you come to C2 to check on it’s status. How might you do this?
  • [Reconciler] Imagine you’ve received an email about a request that is missing a CL#. How might you find the request?
  • [Budget Approver] Imagine you’ve want to see all your open requests. How might you find them?
  • [Approving Official] Imagine you’ve been on vacation and come to this page to catch up on requests that need your attention. How might you do this?


The 18F team conducted 11, 45 min video conversations with active C2 users:

  • 4, Requesters
  • 3, Budget Approvers
  • 2, Reconcilers
  • 2, Observers / Admins

Visiting the request detail page

  • Participants interact with the Request page to check on the status of a request (or make a new request.)
  • The status of a request is about where it is in the process and who is the current owner.
  • Some users rely on the current division of requests by status to quickly understand what they need to look at.


  • Participants are expected to move request along in a timely manner and therefore prioritize work by date.
  • External systems like Pegasys or service center policies trigger timelines.
  • How long a request is sitting in a step is important information for users so they can “nudge a request along” if necessary.
  • Participant reflected the value of the timeline is to understand what has happened to a request and who to contact.
  • Seeing timing of key events [in the timeline] for a request is valuable for all users checking on status and for admins whose job it is to monitor the progress of requests.


  • Participants have developed workflows based on their understanding of the system and are averse to dealing with change or learning new systems.
  • Personal organizational methods vary from email inboxes to folder systems on their desktops to excel trackers or spreadsheets. These “trackers” unite information that resides in various financial systems.
  • Participants don't look to C2 to stay organized about the work that they need to do.
  • The number of requests a user has influences their organizational system and use and need for search and sorting.

System of record

  • Adding all the necessary attachments to a request is often the final step in "completing" a request. Some participants view request details to look for attachments.
  • Participants often print out request details to share with colleagues or auditors. It serves as proof of the process.
  • Exact dates are more valuable in a financial setting than relative dates.

Ease of use and learnability

  • Participants want the system to be simple and easy to use so they can "get it and get out".
  • In general, participants found the new design to be user-friendly, informative, and intuitive. There is confusion around sorting and customization functionality.
  • A pinned left hand navigation has the benefit of always being available.
  • The categories are helpful but secondary to the ability to sort columns.
  • Defaults, dropdown for function codes, duplicate previous request
  • Adding budget feature to RWAs would provide value to approvers and decrease work.
  • Participants don't always know when features exist in C2.

Request category preferences

  • The majority of participants looked to status and date to find and review a request.
  • Some participants would find organizing requests by building type and requester valuable.
  • Additionally, others found that seeing requests organized by type of work would allow them to see past requests, reducing redundancy and time.
  • The variety of user needs validated a design solution that allows users to customize content and sort by attribute.


  • The understanding of pending and complete and the level of granularity that is valuable vary by role.
  • Pending means that it’s awaiting financial approval. Some participants see the new for subcategories within pending.
  • Completed currently means has financial approval but many participant are not completed with a request when it is in the “completed” category.
  • In accounting words have specific meaning. One participant told us that completed means that a job / RWA is done.

Summary content

  • Organizing requests by status and date and displaying FY#, amount, and description are most important to the majority of participants.
  • Displaying building number or type of work would be helpful to some users in prioritizing work and knowing who to follow up with.

Content customization

  • Users like that they could turn on and off attributes displayed in request summaries because they "don't have to see everything."
  • The gear box on it's own was not discoverable or understandable.
  • Displaying the current owner in list view is useful in understanding who to contact
  • CL# is an important indicator for where a request is in the process. Participants found it valuable in the list view.
  • Users view the request details to see if documents have been attached.

Sorting by attributes of a request

  • Users expect to be able to sort by attribute columns but it's unclear how that works. There was confusion between sort function and customizing columns and how it should work.
  • Sorting by team member or who "owns" a request would be valuable for some participants.
  • Participants who use search search by a variety of attributes including amount, FY#, and title.


  • Requesters often (but not always) add the same group of people as observers.
  • Sometimes people forget to add an observer which creates more work or created the need for an admin role.
  • Allowing requesters to add observers when creating a request could reduce time and errors.
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