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The Self-service site as shown on a laptop and mobile browser.

Refining Account Claiming Process Through Multiple Iterations

Timeline: 2 weeks, 2019

Usability Test, Design, Frontend Development, User Experience Design, UX Writing and Accessibility

I worked in a team of five to improve the current self-service website and refine the new account claiming process.

My Role
My team included a product manager, a project manager, a communication specialist and a backend developer. I was initially the UX designer but later, I was tasked with the frontend development as well because the backend developer had other responsibilities in this project. (“Just roll with it,” said the project manager). I also edited content on the project.

Project Brief

The self-service site that managed employee and student login credentials needed to be updated because the University had switched to another external identity management service, which uses the SaaS model.

During the kickoff meeting, the product manager indicated that the goal was to create an MVP (minimum viable product) site for testing in three weeks. To meet this quick turnaround, it was decided that the look-and-feel would remain the same and efforts should be spent on streamlining account management workflows while simplifying content with clear and plain language. We also had to integrate the current Security Statement and Cybersecurity Quiz into the claiming process.

My Process

Product Discovery

I created user flows to understand the new account management system and spot potential pain points. One of them was after users finished registering their account, instead of creating a password, they were taken to the vendor’s login page. So, to guide them through the process, we added step-by-step instructions in the registration email.

Images of various user flows in the new account management system.
Created user flows for my own understanding of the product and also as a deliverable.

Current Site Analysis

We discovered there were duplicated links that went to the same destination and important information such as how to contact Service Desk was hidden in the dropdown menu on the navigation bar. JavaScript was used for unnecessary flyout modal windows and some pages could be consolidated into a single page. The overall copy on the site sounded too technical.

Designing the New Site

Because the main menu was cluttered with duplicated labels, the communication specialist and I removed them. We moved the Service Desk contact information to the footer of the entire site and focused on the main reasons why users came to the site: to claim new user account, to change or reset password, to print backup codes/add DUO token, and to unlock user account. We also rewrote the content to make it more conversational.

The current account claiming form asked for either a university ID or employee number as part of the verification process. Users had to first choose an ID type from the Select Menu and then entered their number in the number field.

Image of a Select Menu with WVUID or Employee Number as options.
Before: Users have to perform two steps to verify their identity.

But why make them take an extra step?

So, to expedite the process and improve usability, I removed the Select Menu. Now, users only have to enter either their ID or employee number and the system will validate at the backend.

Image of a number field input.
After: Users only need to enter either their ID or employee number; more efficient.

Showing Our Work Early For Feedback

We knew it was important to involve the Service Desk team early in the design phase to identity usability issues because they rely on the site to answer questions from users who need help with account problems.

Image of showing the prototype to the Service Desk team for feedback.
The Service Desk team helped to improve the site by asking thoughtful questions.

Turns out by removing the main menu, we inadvertently also removed “Forgot your WVUID?” which was nested in one of the dropdown menus. This link was frequently used by the Service Desk team to help users look up their ID number for account verification. Since this was an important functionality, we restored it back on the homepage, renamed it “Look Up WVUID” and made it a core task.

Image of current navigation with dropdown menus.
We went too far and removed something that was used frequently. Oy!

Iterating with the RITE Method

Because of the time constraint to produce a working prototype, I decided to use the Rapid Iterative Testing and Evaluation, or RITE method to quickly gather feedback, iterate the design and resolve any usability issues.

To claim a new account, a user must:

  1. Go to the self-service site and select Claim Account
  2. Take cybersecurity quiz
  3. Enter recovery work email/alternate phone
  4. Wait for username and password link to arrive in her inbox
  5. Follow link in the email to the vendor’s site to continue claiming account
  6. Enter alternate phone and email
  7. Accept Security Responsibility Statement
  8. Create password

I sat down with five participants (separate sessions) in their work environment and watched them go through the process.

Problem One

Remember the potential pain point? Well, two participants were confused when they were taken to the login page after registration, validating our concern. Turned out, they didn’t read the instructions in the email. Also, while filing out their contact information, both wondered if “alternate phone” was meant to enter office phone or mobile phone.

Solution: After talking to the vendor, our team learned that we could set the redirect on our end and APIs were available for customization. The backend developer then simplified the workflow by reducing extraneous steps, creating a smoother user flow. For example, the user does not have to wait for her username and password link to arrive in her inbox to continue the claiming process. We also replaced “alternate phone” with “mobile phone” for clarity.

Now, a user:

  1. Goes to the self-service site to confirm identity
  2. Accepts Security Responsibility Statement
  3. Takes cybersecurity quiz
  4. Enters recovery personal email/mobile phone
  5. Stays on self-service site and follow the link to vendor’s site to continue claiming account with username
  6. Creates password

Problem Two

As part of the account claiming process, a user was required to provide either her ID or employee number. All three participants did not memorize either number (I did an informal survey and found out others said the same thing.) and I watched them looking in their drawer or wallet to get this information. I realized this was an opportunity to improve their user experience.

Solution: We added a “What is my WVUID?” link on the account claiming form to help users look up their ID number easily.

Image of WVUID or Employee Number with What is my WVUID? in parenthesis on top, number field on the bottom.
Users can now conveniently look up their WVUID with the link provided.

The Result

After multiple iterations, we completed the self-service site in two weeks (with one week to spare) and exceeded our goal. Using the RITE method was productive because we were able to identify usability issues early with the first two participants and iterate the design quickly. We could then validate our solutions with other participants and move on to resolve other issues.

The site went into production. Additional testers have gone through the claim process while several demos were given at the University. Overall feedback was good with only minor language rewrites needed. The self-service site was launched on July 1, 2019.

Image of selected screenshots of the new site.
Selected screenshots of the new self-service site.