In 2017 I delivered design concepts for an improved developer experience using a help hub capability in the Watson IoT Platform.
What is a Help Hub and a Side Panel
When users launch the Watson IoT service and opens the IoT Platform web interface they are taken to the IoT platform dashboard. This default behavior is desirable and efficient for existing users of the IoT platform and takes them directly to an overview of the system state. The IoT platform dashboard is a flexible solution that allows users to use default boards, or configure their personal or team boards that present the right IoT system status to every user or team.
However, for new users entering the platform for the first time, this feature may be perceived as confusing. Users are left with the question “Ok, now what? You dropped me here, what do you want me to do?”
To improve the experience for developers exploring the platform we designed a Help Hub that answers just those questions. And, provides a structured journey for developers to quickly get started with the Watson IoT platform.
With the Help Hub design, we want to provide a simple onboarding experience for new users of the platform. The design should create a seamless learning experience within the Watson IoT Platform; gently guiding users toward the key ah-ha moments that allow them to form a mental model of the IoT platform and its resources. This will increase the likelihood that new users achieve their goals, gaining satisfaction, continue engaging with key features and happily referring the service to others.
The design should present a list of actions for the user to take to get started. The tasks should be context sensitive. That is, actions are presented in a sequence of importance. Once an action is completed, new action(s) are activated and appears to the user. There are conditions that make actions active. For example, if there are not device types created the Help Hub should display a task to create a device type. Or, if there is only one user registered with the IoT platform, the Help Hub should provide an action to add additional team members as users.
Some users may find the pushing of tasks a bit annoying and will turn off such suggestions. Such users will find the Side Panel helpful as a way to, on demand, see a list of recommended tasks and easy access to documentation.
In our research, we identified typical situations here the Help Hub and Side Panel are key to user success and satisfaction.
Getting started – Devon is an IoT developer in a new team formed to run a POC using IBM Cloud and Watson IoT Platform to build a demo IoT applications for a line of business in a week. The POC will provide new insights and optimizations for existing products or processes.
Devon, needs to
- Solve a business problem through innovation
- Build a PoC to secure ongoing funding & support
- Anticipating production-level requirements: scale, DevOps, security, etc.
- Needs to integrate with existing systems and processes.
We defined the following hill for Devon the POC IoT developer:
“As a Developer with no prior IoT platform experience, I can within 15 minutes set up a new IoT platform organization and start developing and testing my IoT devices and applications.”
Help Hub Design Concept
The design concept for Help Hub identifies that
- Developers will set up their development space in IBM Cloud, add a Watson IoT Platform service and launch the IoT Platform Dashboard
- On the dashboard, the developer will see a clear call to action to get started
- Enough context and information on the action will be provided directly on the dashboard
- More detailed, deeper, information is available in the IBM Cloud documentation
- Selecting an action will take the user directly to the right section of the IoT Platform
- A pre-step is presented to the user. This describes the context, the resources, and the options and considerations to be taken.
- When the action is completed, the user its taken to a post-step that salutes the achievement, and introduces the next action to be taken.
As a developer
- I need to connect devices and get data flowing into the IoT Platform
- I need to create my first Device Type
- I Need to register my first Device
- I need to connect my device to the IoT Platform
- Or, I need to simulate a device
- I need to enable my team members to access the IoT Platform dashboard
- I need to add a Member
- I need to enable my application to access the IoT Platform APIs
- I need to add an API Key
Final UX for Help Hub
The final user experience design is shown below.
When launching the Watson IoT Platform for the first time, Devin is welcomed to the platform. The dashboard suggests that he registers a device or simulates a device. He is guided by the IoT platform on how to accomplish the action. New actions follow as he adds members and API keys to the platform.
Final UX for Side Panel
When launching the Watson IoT Platform, Chris is presented actions to connect devices and to register members and API keys. He clicks a button, indicating that he is not interested in any guidance. Later, Chris opens the Side Panel to view suggested actions and product documentation.