From Wireframes to Frameworks:
Turning Vision into Action
Teamwork is about working in sync and doing what you do best. In a recent interview, AOT’s Jacklyn Harrietha and Abin Antony explained how they’re helping to modernize the BC government’s freedom-of-information system as part of a team effort.
Jacklyn is a UI/UX researcher and designer. Before she embarks on the design phase, she undertakes a research phase by interviewing people who will be using the software.
“I conduct discovery sessions to figure out what their current process is, where the pain points are, and how we can make sure the system we’re building alleviates those pain points and provides a better day-to-day experience.”
In these early stages, Jacklyn is focused on the user experience (UX) part of her job. Later she’ll create the user interface (UI), designing wireframes that show what various screens will look like. But for now, she’s trying to get into the heads of users to see where the old system works and where it doesn’t.
Jacklyn talks with staff, the product owner, and subject matter experts to create user stories and wireframe designs. Abin, in his role as system architect, then sets out to turn Jacklyn’s vision into reality.
“As Jacklyn said, she works through the problems, statements, and user experience, so she’s our frontrunner in the project,” explains Abin. “She tells us what the screens will look like and what users want. My role is to evaluate what she gives us, and figure out how we can achieve those goals technically.”
The AOT team works with the client’s product owner to figure out which pain points to ease first, starting with logjams they can clear quickly. Abin is happy about a file-conversion app that was up and running within two months. It’s a big time-saver in the client’s workflow.
AOT’s teams are agile teams. Instead of locking in requirements at the start, an agile approach encourages flexibility when new issues are discovered.
“As users’ needs change, the system kind of evolves,” Jacklyn explains. “As the designer, I’ll look at it and I know I’m going to be able to fix this. There’s a need, and we’re going to fix it as a team.”
Jacklyn and Abin show me the team’s kanban board on ZenHub. It divides their schedule into a recurring pattern of stages and milestones.
“We have two-week sprints,” Abin says. “We move items from the ‘product backlog’ to the ‘sprint backlog,’ then to ‘in progress,’ and when we’re done we’ll move them to ‘review.’ Once they’re reviewed they’ll go to QA (quality assurance), who work with the business team to check that everything’s up to spec. If an item needs a rework, we’ll move it back to ‘in progress’ or ‘review.’”
“And this is the ‘icebox,’” Abin says as he points to another column. “If we need to look at something three or four months from now, that’s where it’ll be. We use it when people find new problems or want a new enhancement.”
Jacklyn appreciates this ongoing process: “It’s a really great project because I just feel like we’re constantly learning so much about so many different things.”
Coming up soon will be the chance to test a minimum viable product (MVP), a version of the software that includes core features.
Based on feedback from initial users, Jacklyn will adjust her designs and Abin will figure out how to implement them, until, step by step, sprint by sprint, the final product is complete.
The work goes on.
The teamwork goes on.
Here’s to the next sprint!