Eko Cards – Innovating a versatile collaboration tools

Business Need

The project was unique as it poses an interesting question: what product will become our future-proof solution? Think within the context of work productivity, collaboration, project management, activities that we already have a ground on, but think outside of the box.

As an example, look into MS Excel, surveys shows that it’s the No.1 Project Management tool in the world despite the success of Trello, Asana, and the likes. Why? Because people find it easy to use and good enough to cater to most of their project management needs.

Its “open-scenario” style also makes it a very versatile tool, therefore despite its branding as a spreadsheet solution, people use it for many things beyond a spreadsheet. Product Owners use it for Roadmap and Backlog, programmers use it as a database, some could even program their software using Macros in Excel!

What would be something that we can create to match Excel’s versatility?

To answer this question I look into the tools I’ve already use, to look for inspirations. What project management tools do I use? What are the other tools that I find very useful in my day to day work? Then I asked my colleagues the same questions to ensure minimum bias. After that research, the answer converged into three tools: Google Keep, Apple Note, and sticky notes!

Why sticky notes?

I love sticky notes! It’s a multi-purpose tool that you can use to taking notes, creating reminders, sending a message for others, insight generation in card-sorting activity, and many things. You can even create artwork from it! In fact, even in our office we quickly realized we used sticky notes a lot. It’s on the walls, the windows, monitors, tables, refrigerator, everywhere!

My concern with sticky notes is its very silo-ed and analog nature, meaning its content can not be seamlessly integrated into other media, rather permanent, space is very limited, and not easily duplicable. The available digital version back then, even from its originator 3M, was leaning towards creating a virtual board for you to play around with digital sticky notes, yet weirdly, copying their limitation as well. Among those that pushed for innovation, Miro was the one that proposes interesting value as a digital whiteboard, but it still doesn’t answer the needs we identified.

On the other hand, we have Keep/Note that is also used in a similar fashion: you can use it for almost everything! What’s good about those is that they’re digital, so it carries the awesomeness of digital products like the ability to edit, copy and paste, search contents, and adds multiple properties like adding date, sharing, color, links.

So I was wondering if we could somehow create something that represents these two marvels.

Turned out we could.

The Concept

The converged idea comes in one afternoon and I quickly sketched it on a piece of paper to show to the CEO/Head of Product, the CTO, and my Product Owner counterpart. After a quick discussion and add on notes, this is what we got:

The concept that we agreed upon is a “note”, an entity that can be made to support different purposes through properties, e.g. date, people, response, comment, and can be linked to other cards to form a cluster of cards. This way, you can even do project management using cards! Simple, versatile, powerful.

The next step is to decide on the look, and how it works. For these goals, our team did a lot of case studies collecting to identify common use-cases, a co-creation workshop to tap into our colleague’s rich knowledge, as well as doing benchmarking.

By running tests with our current users, and speaking into potential users, we also got good feedback into how they would use the product, which helps in setting the product direction, features to be included, what should be in our MVP, and what is our roadmap.

At the end of the project, our UI Designers reviewed at least 40 different products to decide on the visualization!

Naming wise, after consulting with other stakeholders, including our VP of Marketing, eventually, we settled on “Eko Cards” or just “Cards”.

Challenges

What I found as a very interesting challenge from this project, aside from the innovation challenge was the importance of having a thorough use-cases examination. Why?

As a German proverb says, “Der liebe Gott steckt im detail”, which translates as ‘God is in the detail’, popularized in the Modern Design movement by Mies Van Der Rohe, the use-cases really helped us in identifying challenges and how to solve it.

For example:

  • Which feature(s) shall we put on the top menu? How should it look on the empty state, upon filled, how to best save the precious screen estate but kept the function recognizable?
  • As Cards support realtime collaboration, what would happen if two or more people are editing the same card at the same moment? Which input shall we prioritize?
  • Should there be a save button? What about autosave? How often should we autosave it without putting too much burden on the server? Can we create a local buffer?
  • What would happen if the internet connection was lost, and other contributors are unknowingly making changes to the same section the user is editing? Whose edit shall be prioritized? What should happen to the other edits?
  • What would happen if a user edits a section, which practically locks it, but then going idle? Shall the system keep locking the section? For how long? Should there be a way to inform the user?
  • How should we add the feature to transform Card into a task? What should happen if a task is done, should we “close” or deactivate the card? What should be shown on other card(s) linked to that card?
  • How to effectively inform the card viewer that there are other card(s) attached?
  • To what extent should we display the card’s History? What considered as an edit? What are the events the system needs to track?
  • How should it behave on a desktop web view? How to best taking advantage of the bigger screen estate on the desktop? Should we completely mimic the mobile version’s behavior, or should they complement each other?
  • And so on.

Those are dizzying questions but necessary to ensure the creation of intuitive experience. Hours of discussion spent, and on many occasions we simply need to be content with having an educated guess, to be iterated later on after we can gather real user feedback. Else it will be an endless loop.

After the tough discussions, several iterations of creating and testing, including grabbing strangers in public places for guerrilla testing whenever we can, finally we launched the product and I was so happy to see it taking center stage in our app.

For more reference about Eko’s Virtual Workspace, visit the company page here:
https://www.ekoapp.com/

For more information about Eko Cards, follow through this link:
https://eko.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360035375433-Introduction-to-Cards

How to understand the different titles of UX Designers

Source: NetMagazine

Among the most asked questions in Quora related to UX Design, a good chuck is about the differences of titles and roles related to the practice.

First of all, when you look into the demarcation of roles today, basically, you can divide designers into two hemispheres: creative designers, and experience designers. The first related more with Marketing activities, while the latter more into, you guessed it right, digital product development, and this is where most UX designers sit in today’s digital startups.

UX Designer Roles

Note: by “UX Designers” I also imply any roles that contribute to the creation of a delightful User Experience, i.e.: UX Researcher (UXR), Information Architect (IA) Interaction Designer (IXD), Visual Designer (VD) or UI Designer (UID), Product Copywriter (PCW) or UX Writer (UXW), Product Copy Editor (PCE), and UI Developer (UI Dev).

Product Designer

In a more agile setting, where designers are distributed into different teams, the role of “Product Designer” usually encompasses all of those specialization mentioned earlier. Alternatively, some companies label this the end to end role as “UI/UX Designer” which is a misnomer as it treated UX activities as simply creating wireframes, a prerequisite for UI activities to create the actual design; an oversimplification.

If you should differentiate between roles, then Interaction Designer (IXD) are those that produce product design concepts, i.e. how the product works, through identifying which intent to be rendered, and how it should be rendered. User Interface Designer (UID) or Visual Designer (VD) are those that translate the design concept into mockup as the representation of the end product, plus the necessary assets to be developed by the Engineering team.

Here’s a matrix from Stephan Takken that I found accurate, which categorizes these roles by their focus:

Tips: the title of the role advertised usually give a good insight into the organization’s UX maturity, where “UI/UX Designer” is preferable by those in the early maturity stage, i.e. still “testing the waters” as to how the role could contribute to product awesomeness, while more mature ones usually prefer specialization like “Interaction Designer”, and “UI Designer”. The more mature it is, the more embedded the designers usually are within the whole product lifecycle, with a seat in the product committee board. (byms)

A walk in the fog, innovation attempts during Covid-19 pandemic

Upon navigating the uncertainties presented in this COVID-19 Pandemic, it’s helpful to first, understand the context of the challenge we’re facing, to put things into a clearer perspective. Eddie Obeng through his project classifications divides project types into four quadrants based on the clarity of goals, and clarity of enablers.

Which one accurately fits the situation? As you might have guessed, the answers will be different for everyone depending on their organization’s vision and capabilities. However, for most that caught unprepared, it will be the “Fog”, or “Lost in the fog” – They don’t really know what to do and how to do it.

Further explanation can be found in the book “Managing Unique Assignments: A Team Approach to Projects and Programmes” as follows:

“He calls open projects ‘the walking or lost in the fog type of projects’: ‘you can’t stay in one place, and so it follows that you have to move. According to Obeng, in open projects, you and your interest groups are uncertain. This uncertainty has a bearing not only on what must be achieved but also on how it is to be achieved. In his view, a characteristic of this type of project is that an attempt is being made to do something that has never been done before, for example carrying out a quality-improvement programme or developing an entirely new product for an entirely new market. The approach for these projects depends on the project leader’s skill in continually carrying out the cycle of acting, evaluating and learning from what has been done and then replanning.”

According to Obeng, the right type of leadership for this kind of situation is, you might have also guessed it, “Innovator”. In his book “Perfect Projects”, Obeng mentioned the following traits for such leadership:

  • Build trust – Make promises and keep them
  • Find a wide range of stakeholders many of whom do not initially see themselves as stakeholders
  • Be prepared to go to where team are, logically and emotionally (match and lead)
  • Communicate widely and use questions effectively
  • Listen effectively to both logical and emotional concerns
  • Demonstrate calmness (even when panicking)
  • Describe and capture nature of problem faced
  • Clearly articulate a vision (usually opposite of problem faced)
  • Show genuine concern for team
  • Keep stakeholders informed on a day-to-day basis
  • Encourage team to communicate amongst themselves
  • Capture any learning team makes – Proceed one step at a time
  • Reassure team members – Be creative with any new opportunities or insights which present themselves
  • Give hope to stakeholders – Praise initiative taken by team
  • Provide intellectual challenge through questioning and problem description
  • Analyse complex situations and distil few actions likely to give biggest results
  • Accept offers of ideas and efforts from team
  • Involve team decision making & provide a stable ‘base’

For those reading my previous post about navigating your way in this covid-19 pandemic and thinking to explore the opportunities hidden in this crisis, you will be heavily benefited by the diversity of ideas coming from a team effort, therefore, for someone doing it alone should consider of having allies that can work together to accelerate your wayfinding. (byms)

APD (Tidak) Sekali Pakai

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Agak kaget juga waktu diberitahu bhw rumah sakit yang menangani pasien Covid-19 perlu mengeluarkan uang sekitar 100 juta/2 minggu, untuk membeli ‘Alat Perlindungan Diri Sekali Pakai’. Itu baru untuk rumah sakit ukuran kecil-sedang loh. Sudah lah mahal, APD ini kenyataanya sangat langka di pasaran. Banyak juga ditemukan kasus di mana kualitasnya di bawah standar keamanan yang layak. Sayang, akhirnya ga kepakai deh.. Seorang SobaTorch yang yang berprofesi sebagai dokter, dua minggu lalu menghubungi Torch. Minta bantuan agar Torch mau membantu supply APD Coverall dan Baracoat (baju astronot medis itu, loh) –bagi tenaga medis di garda depan. Targetnya spesifik; harus aman, nyaman, kuat dan bisa digunakan ulang. Kebetulan Kemenkes RI sudah mengeluarkan peraturan yg membolehkan penggunaan APD reusable, selama dibuat dari bahan berkualitas tinggi. Jadi 2 minggu ke belakang, tim Design & Development & tim Supply Chain Management –termasuk CEO Torch pada kurang tidur. Mereka sibuk merancang produk, dan mengarahkan supply chain yang dimiliki oleh Torch untuk diperbantukan dalam pengadaan APD Medis ini. Kebetulan Torch punya network yang cukup luas dengan partner2 penyedia teknologi dan produksi di dalam dan luar negeri Setelah berulang kali berkonsultasi dengan tenaga medis dan ahli2 teknik produksi, setelah 4 kali pembuatan prototipe, dalam waktu hanya 2 minggu, akhirnya jadi juga final design dan rantai suplainya. Mulai hari Senin ini sebagian rantai suplai kita sudah siap memproduksi APD-APD ini. APD yang kami sebut Torch Med-Guard ini, dibuat dari Nylon H1/Polyester Pongee dengan lapisan water proofing ‘breathable polyurethane coating’. 100% water proof, memiliki mikropori berukuran 1-3 mikrometer yang bisa menahan droplet cairan yang berukuran 100 mikrometer. Tapi tetap bisa mengeluarkan uap panas tubuh manusia, berukuran 1.10-5 mikrometer. Jadi penggunannya tidak akan berasa di dalam oven. Bisa digunakan ulang berkali-kali, sesudah melalui proses sterilisasi dingin dengan cairan alkohol 90%. Reusable = ekonomis Kalau ada kenalan di RS atau lembaga2 sosial, silahkan langsung ke halaman info & pemesanannya > bit.ly/Med-Guard

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A surprising development from Torch, where they have created a reusable Coverall & Baracoat for medical personnel handling COVID-19 cases, which could replace the “Alat Perlindungan Diri (APD) Sekali Pakai,” therefore greatly reducing the cost of suspected patient handling. Heads to http://bit.ly/Med-Guard for the details. (byms)