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Developer Centers

Directing developers to the IBM Cloud

 

The problem

The IBM Cloud Platform offers lots of functionality and services, but the user experience left a bit to be desired. First and foremost, it was hard for our users (mostly developers) to find any relevant information about what we offer. What information they did find was incomplete and pointed in many different directions (see below diagram for an example).

Our team decided to start at the beginning and identify the entry points for cloud native developers looking to build applications in Java, Node, or Swift.

UI Design
User Research
UX Design
Web Design

My Role

For the first phase of this project, I was involved in the initial research and strategy, and oversaw the output of the final visuals. For phase II, I led the re-engagement with our stakeholders to discuss further improvements, oversaw the creation of updated visuals, and continued to support the development team as they implemented the designs.

Research

Our first step was to understand our users’ typical discovery processes. Did they mostly perform Google searches – and if so, what were the terms they used, what websites did they frequent when looking for information, what did they expect to find, and what information was important to them? We worked with our research team to interview users and do some competitive analysis to end up with an initial user flow, and a list of top deciding factors when choosing a cloud platform to host their applications.

Design thinking

To make sure we were on the right track, we invited our stakeholders and some representative users to a day-long workshop. Our goals were to understand the current landscape, decide on the project direction, and align on the project scope, based on what we could accomplish in three months. We did all this through the lens of our two main developers: a lead developer / architect, and a junior developer. With more than 25 people in a room together, this was no easy feat, but we came away with three statements that summarized our goals as a team.

Information Architecture

From our research, we decided to create one website, with subpages each for Java, Node, and Swift. The point of these pages was to present our users with general information about development on the IBM Cloud, and then to point them to the cloud itself or other useful tools. We mapped out what we wanted this to look like and where these pages would live within the ecosystem of IBM’s other web properties.

Visuals

We did extensive user testing with wireframes, with multiple versions, to see which content users found most useful. We worked closely with our development team throughout this process to keep them up to date and let them know what they could get started on. This allowed us to move into final visuals pretty quickly and knock out one final round of user testing before the site went live.

Phase II

Since our initial release was on such a short deadline, there were some aspects we didn’t get to flush out. I knew our stakeholders had some needs that weren’t met, so I led the re-engagement with those teams to address their users’ needs more completely and iterate on the experience.

We clearly defined what those missing pieces were and re-visited the information architecture to make sure we were still streamlining our users’ path into the IBM Cloud.

Updated Visuals

After many iterations with our stakeholders and design team, many rounds of testing with our users, and many conversations to make sure our strategy was in line with the rest of IBM, designs were finalized and the site was developed.

View the Node@IBM site live.

Outcomes

After working with the Node team to develop a template, I passed the designs off to the other language teams to create their own developer centers. View the Node.js at IBM site and the Swift at IBM site.