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The Weather Channel Lean UX Case Study


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In this talk, Jeff Hutkoff, head of mobile for The Weather Channel, and agile coach Aaron Sanders discuss how they did this while serving both the business and customers.

Published in: Software, Technology
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The Weather Channel Lean UX Case Study

  1. 1.  The Weather Channel  Lean UX Case Study: Travel Weather  Presented by  Jeff Hutkoff, The Weather Channel  Aaron Sanders, Comakers 1
  2. 2. Who are we? Jeff Hutkoff, Ph.C.  iPhone and Android phone apps product owner – The Weather Channel  #7 downloaded iTunes app of all time  #1 weather app  Tens of millions of downloads  Top 100 daily ranked iTunes Free app  Agile since September 17, 2012  Co-located teams  Complete P&L responsibility  Lean UX and rapid prototyping  Mandate:  Build products users love  Go faster than waterfall allowed 2
  3. 3. Aaron Sanders :: @aremsan Co-founder of Comakers, LLC :: @comakewithus We know how great it feels to make kick-ass products with our friends. You should, too. 3
  4. 4. :: Our job in software is to change the world
  5. 5. Discovery release cycle development cycle Validated learning happens in discovery- discovery wraps delivery Delivery ::
  6. 6. Discovery looks a lot like Design Thinking ::
  7. 7. Product Owners must balance lots of concerns ::
  8. 8. The Product Owner is a leader PO does not capture requirements PO is not a “spec monkey” PO is not a project manager ::
  9. 9. Product owners lead a team Together the team:  Works with stakeholders  Learns from customers and users  Collaborates with delivery team members  Creates a product backlog  Designs, validates, and describes the details of the product ::
  10. 10. Discovery work fuels development work ::
  11. 11. Backlog items are continuously and collaboratively designed and defined ::
  12. 12. Getting software into users’ hands is the real goal ::
  13. 13. Everything at once ::
  14. 14. Travel Weather Pre-discovery • Commitments • Hypotheses Design/Development • Prototype Testing • Results • User Testing UI/UX Optimization Travel Product Backlog Discovery • Discovery • Hypothesis • Results • MVP • Use Cases
  15. 15. Pre-Discovery Commitments • Sales wanted a “business traveler tool” • Ad sponsorship sold to client across TV, web, and mobile in Dec 2012 • June 1 committed start date for mobile platforms (iPhone, iPad, Android) Sponsorship was secured well before product discovery could be conducted by the newly formed agile teams
  16. 16. Early Discovery Contracted 3rd party testing service to ask general questions about TWC users’ business travel needs: • What business travel means to you? • What mobile tools you use to prepare for business travel? • When you use your iPhone for travel? • How often would you use iPhone travel tools? • What weather conditions do you care about when traveling? No TWC product person talked to actual customers…but we snuck in some questions to test a theory
  17. 17. Early Discovery Business Traveler Results The concept of “Business Traveler” is confusing: • "I travel for recreation. Can I use this too? What if I commute across town? Can I use this for that purpose?" • Even business travelers were confused, Why should I use these tools rather than going to my airline's flight tracker? • “Commute Weather” as a feature tested very well (road conditions, delays and how weather affecting) vs. airplane travel. • Also, while "Business Traveler" was confusing, users suggested “Travel Weather” as both improving clarity and driving interest in the feature toolset.
  18. 18. Early Discovery NEW Narrowed Focus: • Users on the go with their iPhones are more interested in the weather moving across well known, well used driving routes, rather than one-time airplane journeys • By focusing on re-usable route information and showcasing weather across these routes rather than air travel information, we can address user needs for adjusting and preparing for their daily travels • We can engage users in a Travel section as a daily habit by providing a tool to plan and adjust the timing of their daily trips Now we started talking to actual customers
  19. 19. Weekly User Testing In the field and in the lab…
  20. 20. Focused Early Discovery (2 sprints) Finding: Users named more than 2 dozen capabilities they wanted in this feature. But there was a core experience that shined through… Early Discovery - We showed users lo-fi sketch concepts… all for driving route products. 1 2 3
  21. 21. Mid-Discovery (multiple rounds cont.) Mid Discovery What we discovered: Tool set up and usage are the same but use case falls into 2 categories > Daily usage: 1. Commuting >10 miles 2. Local highway driving 3. Longer non-highway drives 4. Timing departures 5. Informational – traffic impacts 6x per year road trips: 1. No commute, or 2. Commute short-distance 3. “No freeway” commutes 4. Same commute every day 5. Pre-planned out of area trips every other month Key Finding: Super-serving the daily driver served 80% of the 6x per year customer
  22. 22. Evolving to Minimum Marketable Product Weather on route Radar animation Weather on route Radar animation Traffic layer Weather on route Radar animation Traffic layer Turn x turn directions Weather on route Radar animation Traffic layer Turn x turn directions Points of interest Weather on route Traffic layer Turn x turn directions Points of interest Push alerts Alternate route suggestions Report/rate your commute Time your commute with historical trends Radio/audio traffic reports % of users affected by weather in your area Drag your own route on map Discovery 1st round 2nd round 3rd round 4th round Final MMP Evolution Pathway Users want us to keep Travel simple for them to quickly use on the go Successive rounds of user testing distilled the travel experience to a core set of features valuable to daily users and buildable to hit the hard date of June 1
  23. 23. Mid-Discovery (multiple rounds) Mid-Discovery (User testing at User Insights with Balsamiq tool) Users walked us through how they would use travel tools: • Accessing the tool • Adding a route • Adding start and end points • Selecting from route choices • Naming a route • Saving a route • Confirming route saved • Recalling a saved route • Moving around saved route map • Animating the weather map • Editing/deleting a saved route • Recalling a saved route from a list • Closing the tool
  24. 24. Prototype using FieldTest clickable mock Prototype Testing (3 sprints to deadline) • Pull down tab on Maps page • Add/Delete functionality • Routing setup and recall
  25. 25. UI/UX Optimization using clickable mock Iterative improvements to the Travel feature pre-5.4 release included: • Add simple tutorial to draw attention to Travel • Icon-focused button to access Travel • Modulate opacity to keep more of map visible at all times • Color palate match between Travel button, Play button and Expand button • Collapse route set up screens
  26. 26. Final Refinement – and Release! Iterative touch ups prior to launch: • Vertical alignment of animation control buttons • Added Stop and Clear Route buttons • Thickened and darkened line representing route
  27. 27. Lessons Learned • Use all available prototyping tools but start with paper • Regiment user testing to fail fast and recover • Focus team on 1 project at a time • Do less, iterate more • Time box activities • “I think” vs. “users say”