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SPR Pivots from Portal Redesign, Delivering Actionable Customer Research and Insights

Global Information Firm Portal Redesign

Man looking at ideas posted to a wall

A longtime SPR global information client was scheduled to be split into two companies. During this time of significant organizational change, the client engaged SPR to help them redesign a key portal that serves as the main entry point for customers using the client’s suite of tools. Customers contract with the information firm and are granted access to products, all of which must be accessed via this central portal. The platform also houses an extensive document library and displays important announcements. Despite the importance of this portal, there was no clear product owner and our client lacked analytics to see how the platform was being used. Though SPR has worked with the client for more than a decade and assisted with custom development, research and DevOps work, we had not previously worked with the portal our client was seeking to redesign and rebuild.

Understanding The Problem Space to Redesign The A Key Customer Portal

Drawing on our standard experience design best practices, SPR began a three-month design phase during which we would design and prototype the portal our client was seeking to implement. We began with a kick-off workshop, during which we oriented the combined client and SPR team around the problem. SPR conducted three rounds of iteration and testing, creating a prototype and testing with users, gathering feedback and then refining the prototype. At each stage in the process, SPR shared findings and insights with our client, working closely to share knowledge so the client could make the most informed decision possible.

The SPR and client team encountered unique challenges with the portal redesign. Primarily, no one knew how the portal worked, what it was used for or who used it. While many internal resources were adding to it, no one owned it. The portal lacked solid information architecture and some data within the platform was being entered from multiple sources. There were also no existing analytics in place to help orient the team, and it was challenging to connect and communicate with the tool’s end users. Though the prototype solved some pressing user challenges, SPR realized that large, foundational aspects of the client’s customers and their experiences were missing.

Due to the natural knowledge sharing taking place between SPR experts and client team members, the combined team realized the need to take a step back and reevaluate the optimal way forward. Through working with the client through the design phase, we had mutual trust with the client’s new Vice President of User Experience, who sought to champion a more unified and consistent journey for client customers. Working closely with the client’s UX resources, we took the opportunity to thoughtfully pivot the work we were doing.

Pivoting to Deploy Foundational Research

We then proposed a foundational research and deep analysis phase, which became Phase 2. This four-month process involved four researchers, who uncovered and examined who the customers were, what they were trying to do, and what the marketplace looked like. This research process not only surfaced key insights into the paths customers took through the portal, but also uncovered competitor product information previously unknown to our client.

In our research, SPR discovered that the portal was more heavily trafficked than previously thought. In addition to the tools customers could access via the portal, customers were also regularly navigating to documents and reports, though the navigation paths were poorly designed.

SPR’s deep, foundational research highlighted the base customer journey, the contours of the marketplace, competitors, frustrations, suggestions and other feedback. With this information, SPR created an experience map and a library of research. These resources enabled our client to shift their roadmap and the roadmap of a handful of their other products to better meet customer needs. Through the research conducted by the SPR team, the need for a product owner who would champion the development of the portal became clear, and armed with the deep, foundational research SPR provided, the client’s UX team was able to socialize the importance of the portal with other business units and create a clear strategy for moving forward with this key customer portal.

Empowering Our Client to Better Understand Their Customers

By partnering closely with our client, SPR was able to help the team navigate the significant changes the organization was undergoing. Our flexible work model and dedication to collaborating closely with our clients allowed us to learn more deeply about the problem we were working to solve. Through continuously sharing knowledge and insights with our client, SPR was able to help them understand more about the people who use their products and how the client team can best address their needs in the future.

The SPR Perspective

Though we typically recommend conducting research at the beginning of projects to guide design and development and minimize re-work, it’s never too late to pivot and do the research necessary to create a better product. Deep, foundational research allows teams to bring products to the market that truly serve the needs of their users. The valuable insights SPR gathered will shape our client’s strategy and roadmap for months to come.