Toll Road OCR Image Processing Software
A major toll-road operator was ready to completely redesign their image processing app – moving from WinForms to a web app with the help of an agile software team. This app is used by the company’s team of image processors to interpret license plates and ultimately bill customers for their use of the toll road. Thus, the app truly is the company’s bread and butter – anything other than improved performance would lead directly to a loss of revenue and therefore, the product’s failure.
UX Researcher, UX Designer, UI Designer
Stakeholder Sessions and Usability Audit
Before even thinking about development sprints, the client wanted Exadel’s UX team to conduct a usability study to evaluate the existing software, as well as make general recommendations as to how to better improve the user experience. Because the app is so directly tied to revenue, it was critical we keep in mind specific benchmarks and metrics. This meant our toolkit needed to include both qualitative and quantitative approaches.
The first step involved speaking to leadership stakeholders to understand the business goals of the application, as well as to understand the system as a whole and how each image processing queue functions. This included lots of system diagrams, reviewing training materials and asking the stakeholders for their “wish list” and what would constitute a “win” for the redesigned software.
Once we interviewed leadership, we began interviewing users! This is always one of my favorite stages – there is no better way to identify what works and what doesn’t. This phase included one-on-one interviews, a survey, and a paper prototyping session to allow users to build their dream screen. We also researched user journeys. We had users open the app and walk us through their workflow step by step – providing invaluable insight into how they actually use the app and where their pain points are.
Based on our research, I created personas based on commonalities found between the users we interviewed in-person and surveyed. I also mapped the data collected in the survey against those personas, providing some more qualitative insight into the application.
Findings and Recommendations
Once the research was complete, I worked with the UX team to present our findings to the leadership team. We also presented our recommendations for the next version of the system. All of our recommendations related back to initial project goals of improving efficiency, accuracy, retention and satisfaction.
We explored themes like autonomy, monotony, music, gamification and feedback throughout our solutions to improve the user experience with the ultimate goal of increasing productivity.
In additional to general UX recommendations, I explored visual design ideas for the app. The old app was a big screen of form fields with lots and lots of gray – a very sad thing to look at for any length shift. By introducing brighter colors, friendlier typefaces, introducing more robust education and feedback and eliminating irrelevant information, the new app lets users focus on what’s most important – and feel good doing it.
Once the the general design and UX direction was accepted, it was time to start development. The client relied on our development teams, dev ops and UX team to drive introduce an agile process to their internal development team. I was responsible for running and driving each design sprint to ensure we always stay a sprint ahead of development.
Each design sprint was structured to quickly design and validate specific product features, always harkening back to the general concepts introduced in the findings and recommendations stage.
Of course the ultimate validation comes once a feature set is released into production. Initial user testing left me confident that the new design would meet or exceed the set benchmarks, which was confirmed when the first release resulted in an 11% increase (!!) in the number of images processed per hour. Needless to say, both client and users were extremely happy with the results!