UI/XD
Case Study

Case Study: Project Management System Notifications

The Project Management Tracking system Lead contacted me to assist with redesigning their emails. The tracking system is used to submit and approve projects that require multiple resources across several different functional groups.

The system support team was becoming overwhelmed as users preferred to contact support rather than work through issues on their own. The number one reason users cited for this was the system emails were confusing and unhelpful.

The ideal end result was to reduce the amount of trouble tickets by enabling users to complete tasks on their own.

While the Lead envisioned a facelift would be sufficient, after reviewing example emails from throughout the workflow, I realized some more in-depth user analysis would be required.

Existing Notification

The Lead and support team consolidated feedback from users and the main issues were:

  • Users don’t know who should take action on a task
  • Emails are getting lost in user’s inbox
  • Too many similar looking emails
  • Have to open each email to see if it is relevant
  • User unsure of action to take
  • User doesn’t know where to go to take actio
  • Actions are overdue or not completed
Process

I requested a workflow map and the examples of all the emails that were sent out at each branch and began to organize and categorize the emails. Overall, there were three categories of emails, Action Required, Progress Updates, and Courtesy Copies.

I worked within these categories to write static content that would be as generic as possible for re-use. I was also able to develop strategies for using dynamic content to populate sections with information relevant to the task. I had the project Lead consult with users to understand what information was needed for them to have at a glance in the email, and what was superfluous.

After three rounds of revisions each email in the workflow was re-written based upon user feedback, and each item was designed to help mitigate specific issues noted in user feedback.

  • Move assigned person to the To field and all others to the CC field.
  • Focus on clear, concise, and unique subject lines
  • Reorganize content into more logical groupings
  • Enable hyperlinks for specific fields
  • Have a dynamic salutation
  • Email content rewritten to be more clear
  • Clearly stated required action
  • Large button with descriptive text that takes users directly to relevant system page
  • Include due dates from the system
Updated Notification
Results

Within a few weeks the amount of support tickets began to decrease as desired with very little time investment from the support team. Best of all the strategies I used were codified so any future notifications could follow the same format.

Takeaways
  • Leverage dynamic content to help personalize or add relevant details to communications
  • Customize subject lines for scanning and include keywords
  • Insert specific links to system forms whenever appropriate
  • Be clear about the purpose of an email
  • Be clear about the actions required
  • Use simple language and short sentences to describe objectives.