Global Navigation

UX Lead Project
GoGuardian has three distinct user types - IT Admins, Teachers and Counselors. Our main user base - IT Admin have to traverse through most of our applications on a daily basis. The issue here is that all six of our products are distinct from one another. Each product has its own navigation style, information architecture and idiosyncrasies which has led to user frustrations in context switching. I led a series of working sessions to see if it would be possible to have a unified global navigation that could enable an IT Admin to swiftly and effortlessly move from one product to the next.

Here is the spectrum on which each user type feels comfortable in using technology:

Working Session 1 

The goal of the first working session was to audit our six products to identify common user paths. We quickly realized that we needed to create a unified ecosystem for all GG products. We needed to introduce an easier way for users to complete their experiences, regardless of product. We wanted to break our product silos.

Conclusion

After identifying the many product silos, we were focused on introducing an intuitive and easy to navigate experience through our products. 

We identified how we would measure success:

Working Session 2

For our second working session, we cemented our working hypothesis:
The global navigation focuses on providing the right information to the user at the right time. No more product silos.

Findings: 

Open questions:

Working Session 3

Demoed a wireframe that was created on the feedback received during the first two working sessions.

Showed the proposed navigation to PM, PMO and Engineers. After some healthy discussion and what “would be possible to build in the near term,'' we had to cut out a global search feature and bring back a product switcher. 

Next steps - Finding the beta product 

Iterate on feedback and start user testing the new global navigation. Followed by working with Product to integrate the global nav across products. Once the global navigation had been designed and uploaded to Galaxy (our design system manager). We were ready to stress test against our user bases.

Hurdle 1

I initially wanted to create the global nav, have the engineering team code it and release it across all six products. I wanted to avoid fragmentation across products at all costs. The sad truth was that after speaking with most PM’s and Eng leads it looked like each code base was at distinct levels of maturity and it would be an 18+ month endeavor to get all code base to the same version of React to gain parity in order to ingest a singular global navigation. So the decision was made to release the navigation on one of our products, iterate on it and then release it to subsequent products. 

I initially wanted to demo the global navigation in Org Management. Org Management is our platform product where users setup and manage access for all other GG products, third party integrations and user permission settings. My idea was to introduce the new navigation to our most tech focused group of users that easily adapts to change. Once we'd studied and iterated the Org Management navigation, we’d then move on to our Admin product. Unfortunately, the entire Org Management engineering team was tied up with two major projects - turning on integrations with third party apps and self service for our smallest tiered customers.

Why did I want to focus on Org Management? 

One, I was lead designer for this product, so I knew it’s strengths and weaknesses. The target user for this product is our most technologically literate user base. Our average user is a Director of IT or lead IT Admins who are very aware of how our suite of products work. Additionally, Org Management users are our smallest segment of users, so changes to the UI wouldn’t be too destructive. 

So no dice. On to the next product. Admin.

The Admin product is the main product that our IT Admin customers use the most. Admin is the product where IT Admins can set policies (website filtering), monitor browsing activities, track and retrieve lost devices, etc... Here is where I hit another roadblock - the product was getting a new Product Manager and the new PM would not be available to start working on the product until six months later. The Admin product was off the table. 

Finally, I went to the Teacher product PM. I mentioned the vision that we had for unifying our products and how introducing a global navigation would be the first step in getting us to our desired future state. The PM stopped me after my second slide and said “this needs to happen in this rewrite.” He went on to mention that the current Teacher navigation was broken and that the entire Information Architecture hierarchy was lost on teachers. There were pivotal features that were being lost on teachers, because the current navigation was not intuitive. He agreed to take on global navigation on one condition: we needed to address and fix the entire IA structure of the app. 

Deal. Bring on the scope creeeeeeep. 

I quickly ran back to my desk and began doing an IA audit of the Teacher product. We began to do user testing within days. We learned that the new navigation reduced friction for users. The new nav and the redesigned IA were so intuitive that users finished all user testing exercises in 10 minutes. Yes that’s right 10 minutes. We had allocated 45 minutes for each user testing session. Users would naturally navigate to the right places in the app or would instinctively complete the following user prompts. The PM was so blown away that he used the remaining user testing session to ask about other experiences that a user would like to see change in the app. 

Takeaways

Next steps: 

We’re continuing to monitor how teachers are adapting to the new navigation. I am now engaging with the Admin and Org Management PM’s to do a joint launch for the global navigation for both products. Fingers crossed.