Digital system research and concept development for airline maintenance team
What is it like to work at the Engineering and Maintenance department in an airline hangar? And how we can improve the daily work flow of maintenance engineers whose work requires high precision and efficiency?
This was the challenge facing us when we started the project.
Together with development team at KLM, me and another visual designer from Mirabeau worked on a challenging project to develop a new digital system for airline maintenance engineers to manage their daily tasks and keep track of work progress and personal calendars. After three months of user research and design iterations, we were able to deliver the main dashboard concept and screens for the development to carry on.
Personal contribution: Context inquiry; User research and usability tests; UX/UI design; Prototype and final motion demo
Team: Laurens Bousardt (Visual Designer), KLM development team
01/2018 - 04/2018
Currently the first version of the digital system is under development and for a full view of our final proposals, please check the motion demo below.
It is definitely a system that requires audiences to dive into the details of their work flow and the variations of different registration numbers and components they use on daily basis. For my portfolio, I would only take one part of the new system, the dashboard overview as an example to go through our design process.
To understand the user requirement and current frustrations, I didn’t just start design straight away but went to the hangar did a serious of context inquiry and user observation under the permission of project manager.
The system they were working with were very old dated and cumbersome. However, for this type of users, they usually just bear with the drawbacks of their system for years after years, and don’t even know how they can benefit from an efficient system anymore.
From my context inquiry, some key insights were aggregated to guide our concept design directions.
Every morning the whole team will take a look at the main dashboard together, checking in and assigning tasks to the ones on duty that day; They would also like to be aware of who’s not on duty that day ahead to prevent resource shortage.
Apart from daily schedules, they all prefer to have an annual overview of everyone’s holidays to foresee and prevent resource shortage mostly on the same day or ideally in coming days.
Action log should be placed in the presence view to connect to the employee presence, currently there is no connection between the two;
Right now the absence and holiday/event information are operate, there is a need for a holiday/even planner in place.
After distilling insights from context inquiry, we start getting hands dirty on several initial draft ideation to organize information as required by the user. In the conceptualization process, we had an idea to introduce a calendar view based on two major reasons, firstly it is possible to encapsulate all requirements from the users from context inquiry, secondly it simplifies the need for multiple screens to present all kinds of information sources.
However, it is considered a big change to the current system, requiring user adaption and development effort. Due to the information load and feature adaptation curve, we decided to mock this up in a relatively high fidelity way and conduct another round of user research.
The calendar is designed on top of the native calendar on Material Design due to KLM’s Design System requirement. However, in order to make the system fits into daily usage and behavior patterns of maintenance engineers, there are some reasons to make a system adaption to the native patterns. Couple of adaptions made (see below).
More granular interaction among different panels in the dashboard were considered and planned for usability test in the second round of user test. For instance, click on one team member to dive into his/her personal calendar.
How much are users aware of their struggles and doubt while using a system? Not that much. For the second round of user test, I insist to create a clickable and interactive prototype within one day to allow our team observe engineer’s latent struggles and needs in real-time while interacting with the prototype.
Several assignments were designed by me and presented to them in order to cover as much as usability issues and aspects in the design.
Based on the test insights, the visual designer and I worked on improvements on our design for another iteration.