Atruity, a start-up focused on creating a tool which would make strategic planning accessible to small businesses, tasked us with creating a product to help small businesses develop and execute strategic plans. From the brief, it was clear the founders of Atruity felt from their own experience that small businesses struggle to formulate and execute successful business plans due to a lack of knowledge and communication.
The project began with a 2-week individual sprint to develop a mid-fidelity prototype, followed by a 1-week team sprint to develop a high-fidelity mockup and Axure prototype utilizing the best features of our products from the previous week.
I focused on market research and analysis to understand what products existed on the market that may already be available to small businesses, and to identify the need within the market.
There are a number of robust tools on the market which allow for the creation of roadmaps and task execution, such as Aha! and Monday.com. The visualization of individual tasks within a goal in a roadmap is an especially effective method of understanding the collaboration and paths needed to execute a goal.
Atruity asked us to incorporate learning resources into the application, as a way to help small business owners through the strategic planning process. There are a number of resources on the market which are offered free of charge to small business owners, most notably by SBA.gov. Available resources focused more on small business planning, rather than specifically strategic planning.
Design and Development
After a deep dive into understanding the strategic planning process, I developed initial user flows for planning, task management and execution, and learning resources.
The plan feature guides the small business owner through the steps of the strategic planning process, incorporating collaboration as a method for consensus building along the way. A resources tab with links to relevant learning modules is available at each step.
The tasks feature builds upon the long-term strategic objectives identified at the end of the strategic planning process by allowing team members to develop actionable tasks for each objective. A timeline-based roadmap helps to visualize the process.
The learn feature incorporates learning modules, customized to each user’s needs and interests by use of an on-boarding preferences survey.
I developed wireframes through sketches to visually organize information before moving into Axure to focus on final layout and interactions.
UI and High-Fidelity Mockup
We kept the UI simple and clean to keep the focus on the simplification of the strategic planning process to a process accessible to small businesses.
We developed a landing page with features which would help capture potential users, and the primary-based color scheme lends itself to easily highlighting completion tracking in the roadmap tool.
User Testing and Iteration
We focused on testing the flow through the strategic planning process and the translation of planning to task management, as well as some of the more interactive features of the tool, such as the customizable dashboard.
The dashboard incorporates one side focused on task execution, and the other customizable based upon each employee’s needs and involvement in the planning process. We tested the drag-and-drop feature of the dashboard in three different rounds, each time iterating to clarify the call to action.
The final design incorporates a clear call to action indicating the pull-out tab with drag-and-drop widgets.
The last few days of the project involved a hand-off to web development students for the creation of an MVP web application. Next steps in the project involve working with web developers to further develop the web application, further development of the UI, and investigating external application integrations for the planning tool.