Timeline: June - Sept 2016
Project Type: Internship
My Role: UX Designer + Frontend Developer
Skills: User Research, Wireframing, Web Development
During the summer of 2016, I had an internship at FTI Consulting as a UX Design Intern. I worked on one of the company's largest enterprise software, Ringtail, a document review program that had millions of active users. Among the many projects I worked on, my main project was to completely redesign the search experience for Ringtail's main website. The company was working on releasing documentation for Ringtail so that it could have the same self-help support system that many tech companies have switched to, abandoning the phone call customer support system.
Ringtail was about to get have over 500 pages of documentation but lacked a usable search engine to sift through that massive amount of information.
The Ringtail search engine consisted of a simple key-word based search bar with results that were labeled by page type. Here's what it looks like when I search "ediscovery" in the search bar:
As you can see the search results page is very simple (not a bad thing) and just shows the results that come back. In this case, there are 69 results that a user could potentially have to sift through to find what they are looking for. You can imagine how bad it would be once they added on the 500+ pages of documentation. Their search engine was in desperate need of a filtration system to help target what they are looking for.
In order to properly redesign the search engine, I had to first understand what types of people would be using it and what their motives would be. After talking to the marketing department and other designers who conducted had usability tests in the past, I managed to aggregate my findings into these user groups:
Document Reviewer: This is the bulk of the users. The doc reviewer's job is to go through each document one-by-one and search for relevant information to the case. Experience varies from 1-10+ years. They would search for standard technical help for Ringtail.
Attorney: Attorneys manage doc reviewers by assigning them bulks of documents to review at a time. They commonly come from a law background. They would need help with the administrative side of Ringtail such as access rights.
Newbies: Newbies consist of doc reviewers who have just started on the job or independent doc review firms that consist of teams of 3-5 employees. They would need help learning the basics of Ringtail and sometimes even the basics of the document review industry.
After getting a strong understanding of the users, I stared looking around at what other websites were doing for their serach experience. There were a lot of different approaches and each one pertained to their specific product or desired experience.
Spotify uses instant search results, not just showing a plain list of suggestions, but categorized results. Additionally, each result went straight to the result page, instead of just showing a results page of that search term.
Yelp asks for initial criteria before the user even types in their query. This works well because these are very basic filters that help narrow the results. Later on though, the user can add additional filters such as price or ratings.
LinkedIn uses complex queries within the search term itself to help define initial criteria. These could have only been filter buttons on the search page but they chose to also make it integrated into the text search which I thought was interesting.
After getting a strong understanding of the users, I went on to design wireframes for the new search results page. For my first wireframe, I started off including as many ideas for necessary features for filtration as I could.
As each version progressed, I had it reviewed by the UX team each week and got feedback. At Version 4, I started accounting for things such as version number and extra support features. At Version 11, I cleaned up my design to make it less clustered and still maintain the minimal look it had before.
By the final versions, the fidelity started increasing and I started implementing the style guides given to me. And after 12 iterations of creating the wireframe, I finally came to a final design iteration.
This job was quite unique because it entailed both UX design as well as frontend implementation. Because of this, my takeaways from this internship range across both domains.
This experience was an incredible opportunity to learn a diverse set of skills, but that diversity did decrease my time spent on the design process. My design process and decision should have been much stronger but time was not on my side. Here's what I would have done:
I'm so thankful for this company, the people I met, and the things I learned there! Getting this industry experience really helped me grow as an industry designer and overall worker!