Overview

IITB has a huge spread intranet service approximately used by 1900 employees and 8000 students. More than 100 active web spaces used on a daily basis by these users. The dashboard I designed provides an actionable interface, which makes it easier for the user to perform any task. This project is an attempt to get all the necessary academic and everyday information floating on the intranet, which is made relevant to every student on a unified dashboard.

Summary

The final concept binds the information into categories based on priority/ criticality, timeline (calendar), etc. which further gets distributed according to the student's profiles (department - specialization - year-date). The solution provides the freedom to customize the information which the student wants to receive. A single dashboard lets the student view and manages the information from a single interface. It allows the user to add, subtract, update and categories. It organizes and informs the student about the future tasks.

Research


IIT Bombay intranet services

Study existing product

The users are in categories of students (UG, PG, Ph.D.) staff (academic, cash, hostel, etc.), faculty (different department ). My aim was to design a personalized dashboard for IITB students which can further be customized by them. Through the findings of my user studies, I observed that every department works differently and every student uses variable web space on intranet according to his or her personal preference.

Existing product drawback

Over the years the services on Intranet has spread exponentially. An Intranet is used to communicate and to collaborate amongst the users of an organization. Intranet enables workflow management, project management, etc. IITB intranet has four major divisions, which are populated and handled by different centers and a council.

These services did not provide user-specific menu and categorization to fulfill requirements of all the user groups from a single interface by providing all the information.

There were some system-level problems in the existing product as they were not stitched to work together. Therefore, the spaces showed irrelevant menu information upfront, the student had to visit multiple web-spaces to gather information and system did not recognize the Student ID.

Observations

Student use ASC extensively at the end or a start of a semester commonly.

  • Under the academics, there are few tabs which are not utilized by the students and are present there for the faculty to view.
  • The tabs were to be rearranged according to student timeline. For, e.g., Thesis submission, alumni form, etc. should be at the bottom of the list.
  • All services used are not in sync or harmony with each other like GPO, moodle, Mess calendar, ASC; even though they are sharing the standard profile of a user i.e. LDAP

The timeline shows a student's journey with intranet from the first day till last. After few stages, the journey is similar throughout the year. The information is in a loop when semester comes to an end. The user studies conducted with students at different stages of the timeline, starting from first time users to final year students in UG and PG program.

Findings from user study

Understanding the Pattern

  • The activities performed less frequently pile up towards the left column which consists of information which is needed less often but are more critical as they have time Constraints. e.g., for freshers, passing out students, paying fees, etc.
    Design Idea: The information in the daily column can be shown up front all the time, as it is important to keep academic and essential information highlighted.
  • To-do things should appear as list of tasks upfront A dashboard will provide the student with a single interface, which is actionable, with a purpose of viewing everyday information which could be personalized & customized by them.

Concept & User Testing

Brief

To view, manage, indicate the intranet service provided in IITB campus on a single page.

Goals

  • The user should get filtered updates according to its criticality.
  • User should receive actionable updates
  • User should be able to navigate back and forth updates, in time quickly
  • The user should be able to customize the dashboard.
  • A user should be able to maintain and follow things to do and pending updates.

Approach

The method to be followed is to push useful, user specific and critical information upwards and up-front. Therefore inverted pyramid approach would let the user interact with relevant information. When the dashboard populates with updates, this approach will help get information up front.

The Inverted Pyramid Approach in User Interface Design

If it is an intimation which is not critical present the facts first, the details could be read later if the user is interested. It will reduce the stress and time.

  • Regarding IITB Dashboard, today's critical update should come up and then later on the source or category could be traced by going deeper.
  • Information that the user is most likely to see should come up front.
  • For large intranets, in particular, simple personalization can make the navigation more manageable for average users by emphasizing the things they need the most.

Priority Algo

This chart explains which information will fall in as critical/must do, optional /can do and optional updates (not interested). All the updates mapped on time as the day of announcement/update, pending and reminder (deadline passed).

  • Academic update, fee, scholarship, department updates are marked critical.
  • If in other categories, an update sent which marked critical will show up at the top in the interface.
  • Updates closer to due date will push up front on the interface.
  • the system will identify frequently used update which would push up front.

This Dashboard follows the approach in which few categories are fixed, and few are variable. Here the dashboard is majorly divided into three units of information that is.

  • Every day update
  • To-do updates
  • Menu for regular navigation

Types of Dashboard Wireframes

  1. All the elements are in a fixed structure.
    (+) The user would know where to look for what, once he gets used to the interface. He would be well familiar with all the spaces on the Dashboard.
    (-) If the user does not get comfortable with the interface, eventually he would have to get used to it.




  1. Some are fixed
    (+) Few elements in the spaces would be frozen and few would be customized, giving the user a chance to arrange according to his preference and convenience.
    (+) Keeping in mind that user might not arrange the elements effectively, few critical elements fixed and the desirable (not by default) could be rearranged by the user.



  1. Free form interface
    (+) By default user would be given units of information to be categorized in the windows, which he can arrange on the dashboard according to his preference.
    (+)These windows are also customized as a user can merge one or more categories and make a new, where he can see or manage updates.
    (-) This might lead to a chaotic interface as everything is in user control.

UI & Video


User Evaluation

Low fidelity prototype was given out to the users with specific user task. Think aloud protocol was used to decipher where and for what they were looking.