When VFA first approached me, they needed help on the UX of a new product. VFA’s core product (VFA.facility) manages data about an organization’s real estate portfolio, and the condition of its assets, costs for repairs, and funding needs over time. This new product, called VFA FacilityView, unlocks the value of that data for specific stakeholders (such as executives, energy managers, or building occupants), providing quick access to key information, delivered to desktop or mobile tablet.
Needless to say, the first requirement for this new web application was that it needed to display well on tablet devices, using Sencha Touch as the underlining framework. Although my skills end at the visual design stage, it’s still important for me to familiarize myself with the various technologies and to be aware of any features and limitations.
My client already had some ideas on what FacilityView should do, so they sent me some initial wireframes and a list of functional requirements. I quickly understood the problem they were trying to solve, but had my own ideas on how we could make it more useful to users, and also much more streamlined in terms of the overall usability, the user flow, and interactions.
Starting with a mobile-first approach, I created an interactive prototype that took their product to the next level. Using a graphically-rich dashboard as the user’s starting point, they’re now able to see at-a-glance the value and condition of their assets, and to customize that view by turning each of the widgets on or off. I also added a global auto-suggest search to quickly get users to a specific building or asset within their portfolio within just a few taps/clicks.
Adding a collapsible search panel also allowed users to filter their results through a variety of options, such as the asset use, date of last assessment, replacement value, and other filters. These search results can then be viewed either in a List format (alongside an interactive map), or in a Summary view. New features were also added, such as being able to save your search options for later retrieval, adding an asset as a Favorite, and sorting an asset’s requirements based on different priority levels.
I’ve since worked on a few other projects with VFA, including DataManager which allows users to easily and quickly upload or export large amounts of user accounts, as well as the redesign for the larger VFA.facility product. The latter presented its own set of unique challenges. Using an iterative development process, we worked in 2-week sprints, focusing on one feature at a time, then previewed and tested each beta launch with actual users. It's a perfect collaboration between development, UX, and visual design.