© 2019 by Elham Ali, MPH, PMP

Internal Knowledge Base Design & Migration

Empowering employees to be more successful and productive at their work

SUMMARY

Project Background

Calico Cottage is a large food manufacturer in fudge production. The internal knowledge base is a web app that aims to remove barriers for Calico employees to access company policies, strengthen communication lines, make business processes transparent and improve cross-functional team collaboration. 

 

My role was to audit the current internal knowledge base, provide design recommendations, create a product roadmap and migrate the existing knowledge base from Zendesk to Confluence in alignment with the company's tech stack. I collaborated with design, product development, and communication to launch this project.

CLIENT: 

Calico Cottage

 

ROLE: 

UX Consultant to migrate an existing knowledge base to a new software and improve design KPIs

 

DATE: 

June 2019 - August 2019

PLATFORMS:

Confluence Web App

 

TOOLS

Balsamiq, Sketch, Slickplan, Confluence, User flows, Sitemaps

 

KEY PERFORMANCE METRICS: 

NPS, mean # of key action/user, adoption rate, task success rate

TEAM MEMBERS: 

UX Consultant (me), Project Manager, Content Developer

LINK TO FINAL PROJECT: 

http://confluence.calicocottage.net/

BACKGROUND

Goals and Objectives

The goal of this project was to migrate Calico’s internal knowledge base previously hosted in Zendesk to Confluence and improve user experience for increased employee adoption rates to the new technology. Originally, the latter platform was not compatible with the company’s tech stack and long-term vision for digital transformation. The platform also missed key UX best practices in information architecture, tolerance, and consistency. The migration aims to resolve these challenges. 

Calico’s Zendesk Internal Knowledge Base:

BACKGROUND

My Role and Responsibilities

  • Develop a strategic product roadmap and UX strategy to align company business objectives in digital transformation with the knowledge base

  • Design high fidelity mockups and interactive prototypes

  • Meet weekly with management and design team to showcase different design concepts and gather feedback 

  • Create user and site flows to determine user behavior and optimize based on user interviews and key needs expressed in customer journey mapping

  • Conduct in-house user testing for both device types and analysis/iterate on the feedback users give

BACKGROUND

Design Question

“How can we develop an internal knowledge base that aligns with the company's current and long-term digital transformation?”

DESIGN PROCESS

Style Guide and Inspiration

STYLE GUIDE:

In the initial stages of collecting business requirements for the migration, I worked with the content development team. Together we collected the style guide and color palette that would bring consistency to Calico's migration from one software to another in alignment with the company's ongoing digital transformation across multiple technology migrations.

View Pdf Style Guide

DESIGN INSPIRATION:

 

While working to create an internal knowledge base homepage and articles template, I researched inspirations from knowledge base competitors, Dropbox, Canva, and others. I created an InVision mood board to collect and display my research. Creating the mood board allowed the team and me to have a better understanding of what elements work well together in accordance to the four pillars of the New Calico Knowledge base:

  1. Communication

  2. Information 

  3. Collaboration

  4. Business processes

View InVision Moodboard

DESIGN PROCESS

Discovery and Definition

At the start of the project, I created a project charter in order to understand the project's objectives, identifies the key stakeholders, and defines the success metrics for the project. The charter enabled all stakeholders to align on what is in scope versus out of scope. In addition, it helped me identify key risks that the Calico team wants to resolve. The main sections include, but are not limited to:

  • Team members

  • Project summary

  • Business case

  • Objectives and goals

  • Scope

  • Dependencies

  • Budget

  • Risks

I also created a kick-off meeting for all stakeholders to define the start of the project and record client expectations of what their vision of success is. This was a critical meeting to collect business and technical requirements that I later translated to user stories to inform me of what the product roadmap will look like.

DESIGN PROCESS

Research

STAKEHOLDER INTERVIEWS:

 

I interviewed key stakeholders in the project to understand the general needs, pain points, and challenges of employees and management. I learned in the first iteration of my designs that users wanted a platform that integrates all other software that they were using in the company from a data visualization dashboard to project tracking template. The interviews also revealed two key personas, which are innovators that advocate this migration with a customized intranet that addresses user needs, and early adopters that are willing to use the platform with key concessions.

Read User Interview Questions

UX AUDIT:

I completed a User Experience audit for the company for their current knowledge base and their future knowledge base tool. This included a comprehensive product evaluation, website analytics, and stakeholder interviews. The audit gave the management team an opportunity to see how information flows better with the future tool. In addition, it builds a strong business case to moving to the new knowledge base tool because it addresses better user experience including alignment with mental models, user objectives, and compliance with key UX standards. My audit proved to be a critical element in gaining buy-in with the client to adopt a user-centric approach to building the intranet.

UX STRATEGY:

I summarized and analyzed user interviews with management and employees to create an enterprise UX strategy. It served as a conceptual guide that allowed me to present external threats and challenges to the product, its vision and missions, KPIs that I drew from Google's HEART framework. The most important insight I learned from this strategy was that the company had a plethora of technologies. This means that the knowledge base web app will serve as a central hub to integrate all applicable technologies for the company. In addition, the app, hosted on Confluence, will require to be compatible with the company's tech stack for future integrations.

PRODUCT ROADMAP:

To address gaps and challenges that the management team asked on the compatibility of the product with the company's digital transformation, I created an actionable product roadmap. After interviewing key user, I consolidated a list of complaints and features, and prioritized in a list based on effort and business value complexity. I categorized based on the company's four pillars for the knowledge base.

DESIGN PROCESS

Analysis

SITEMAP:

I collaborated with the content creation team to understand how information architecture and hierarchy that was developed in Zendesk, the company's old internal knowledge base. Combined with the UX strategy and product roadmap, I created a new sitemap that addresses user needs. The top is the old sitemap from Zendesk, and the bottom is the new sitemap addressed for Confluence.

USER FLOWS:

I created four scenarios to present to the management team on how an employee will search for information, collaborate with other internal departments, communicate with their teams, and be informed of business processes in the knowledge base with various integrations.

DESIGN PROCESS

Design Iterations

SKETCHES:

I sketched by hand two design iterations of the homepage and article content. These sketches helped the content development team visualize how the information will be organized based on the employee's goals, cognitive effort usage, and information structure. It also provided the team with an opportunity to learn about what information is valuable for the user and how these sketches will evolve over time based on the product's roadmap such as an Executive Corner and Employee Spotlight.

PROTOTYPES:

After sketching and wireframing, I developed three prototypes within three iterations to regularly solicited feedback from management and a few users. I built them directly in Confluence and leveraged a theme with HTML and CSS for minor configuration for the front-end. The below image shows the evolution of the homepage from no customization to full customization. With every iteration, I conducted a usability session with users.

FINAL UI DESIGN:

CONCLUSION

Reflections

EMBRACING SYSTEMS THINKING:

 

Migrating and designing Calico's new internal knowledge base was an amazing opportunity. I learned to use my systems thinking skills to design a solution that is holistic and adapts to the company's new culture of digital transformation and tech stack. I found it important to understand the technical demands from choices of software for project management to data analytics tracking. This allowed me to gain buy-in for the direction of the project from Calico's technical and management teams.

MANAGING CHANGING REQUIREMENTS:

While interviewing key stakeholders in the management team, I learned how requirements changed over time. To manage unknown risks in requirements, I created a requirements traceability matrix and a stakeholder register to map which requirements belonged to a user. I also learned the value of working closely with directors and managers to capture their needs early in the process and translate them to user stories that are actionable and informed.

OVERCOMING RESISTANCE TO UX:

When working with the company, there was some resistance to iterating and collecting user feedback because of fears of low adoption rates to the new knowledge base. There was a common fear that ny showing incomplete prototypes, employees would be less likely to use it and like it. I learned a few ways to overcome this resistance. The first is to align user experience strategy with business goals and needs to create shared value. The second is to crush confirmation bias and show UX shortcoming in the current product and how a user-centric approach for the new product would improve company KPIs. Lastly, I conducted research where I built iterations into the development cycle. This is to empower employees and managers to make micro-decisions in building a product that they own.

TESTIMONIAL:

"Elham quickly became a wonderful addition to our team providing excellent technical support and project management to build a knowledge base for our client. She was dedicated to solving our client's problems and offered support above and beyond what was expected. We greatly appreciate all of her hard work and commitment and look forward to working together again in the future." Read more here.