Matthew Phillips


Site mapping

Contextual Interviews

Competitive Analysis



Usability Testing




Adobe CC



The Problem

Our software was creating an integration for a company that provided a unique opportunity for our dealers. They were a company that could find financing for our dealers instead of the dealers having to do it on their own. This met a need that our customers would often contact us about. They would ask what banks we worked with, not understanding the software does not arrange financing for them. v

Not only did this serve a need for our users, but it also would be a source of revenue for us as the company would pay us for every deal we sent them that was funded.

To ensure that we took full advantage of this opportunity management wanted to find the optimal way to highlight this feature in our system. On our screen in which dealers fill out all the financial information pertaining to a deal, we currently had a “Funding” button that provided some options for submitting deals through other integrations. Management felt that this button’s current function was not clear, and wanted us to improve it while also including the new integration as well.

The Process

We gathered some preliminary research from our customer feedback portal focusing on the data regarding what customers wanted for financing options, as well as their current thoughts on our sales processing screen. We found ourselves with a peculiar situation here. We were being asked how to draw attention to a specific area of the screen when so much of it was already a problem.

It did not seem plausible to effectively change one section without it cascading and affecting many other sections as a result. Because of this, individually reaching out to and interviewing users did not seem an effective research method. Instead, we utilized focus groups that comprised of our customer support staff.

For four weeks we met with groups of roughly a dozen people and proposed our problem to them to see what they could come up with. Each session was 45 minutes, and we had recreated the screen within Omnigraffle. This allowed us to actively manipulate the design before their eyes so they could see what their suggested changes resulted in.

The four groups came up with three completely different designs. Two of the groups even took the redesign to reach the other tabs on the screen. With these changes came documenting the reasons why they should occur and how these changes could help our customers.

One change that all four groups suggested was moving the "Type of Sale" section. This was currently located in the top right of the screen, however it often caused confusion for our customers. Tech support would instruct the customers how to do a sale like so-


 "Okay, first select a vehicle using the button at the top center of the screen. Okay, now on the far right, select the type of sale for this transaction. Okay, now look over to the left and set the APR."


In a society that naturally reads from left to right, we were forcing them to go against the grain at every point, resulting in poor usability. This poor usability also creates a burden on tech support as customers often call in confused as to why their sales are not coming out correctly, only to find they did not realize they had to set the "Type of Sale".

Compiling all of this data from the four groups, we created a few mock-ups that best reflected all of their views as a collective and one final version that combined the best elements from all the data we had collected. We presented these to the developers and management.

The Results

The developers and management were quite impressed with the suggestions that had come from the staff. It fueled great debate on the topic and even management started suggesting large changes to the screen. Unfortunately, no decision was made at that time as management was afraid that if we were going to make changes to this screen that we would have to make them all at once so the users did not have to relearn the screen several times. Which changes should be made could not be decided upon at the moment. While this would have been an excellent moment to conduct more research now involving our users and conducting A/B testing with some usability testing as well, we were not given the go ahead.

The final decision was made in the roadmap committee meeting. It was decided that we would simply change the label of the button from “Funding” to “Finance This Deal!”.

What We Learned

We have issues: Attempting to dissect one little button showed glaring flaws throughout the entire design of the sales processing screen. This screen has continued to be a matter of debate and alterations are frequently mentioned.


Communication is key: In the meeting with the developers, they were delighted to see that we were conducting research and design planning before tasks were being assigned to them. They applauded our work and stressed the importance of doing it to management who was unaware they wanted such things.


Utilizing your resources: This was a tricky research project as mentioned because it involved so many factors. Having our tech support staff as resources was a unique and useful opportunity as they represented vessels that could each express a wide variety of dealer’s thoughts/ideas since they interact with them daily. While this of course will not always be the best approach, it was particularly useful in this specific circumstance.


We’re crowded: One of the most exciting ideas that came out of the research was the proposal to add a 5th tab to the screen that would house the Vehicle information (and thusly named). This would allow us to free up additional space on both the sales tab, as well as the customer tab. It would also help us address at least half a dozen customer suggestions and improve the overall usability.





©2018 by Matthew Phillips.


13583 Chandler St.

Omaha, NE 68138