The Design Process Part 7 (Case Histories)
Boag Associates are one of the leading UK independent information design and strategy consultancies. The company aims to design information that is usable, meets their client’s business objectives and which is visually engaging. This is achieved through a rigorous process of user research and testing. Researched data is analysed and synthesised into the development of prototypes which undergo cycles of development. Through a process of iteration and evolution a solution is developed which on client approval is implemented and subjected to subsequent monitoring of its success. Boag additionally identify key performance indicators against which their outputs can be measured. Andrew Boag, like David Sless, noted that ‘good information design can be more about managing the process than the design solution itself’. This approach is exemplified through their work for Royal Mail. More from Andrew Boag at the Design Council.
Royal Mail Instant Guide
In 2002 Boag were commissioned to review and rationalise a reference manual for Royal Mail International (RMI). They began by undertaking initial fieldwork, which included: observing staff using the existing manuals; ascertaining their views; and via feedback gained from managers on prototype redesigns. As a result Boag recommended the integration of two associated volumes into one integrated single format publication. A process of editing and the efficient use of typography saved space and ensured that the presentation of the information was clear. The design of the binder into foldaway sections enabled easy access to pertinent information when necessary. Updateable information was contained within its own section to minimise the cost of periodic replacement. This economic redesign saved RMI £169,000 in design and production costs. The time taken by staff to reference information was reduced as all information was contained in one volume with each member of staff having their own copy. The guide proved to be immediately understandable as the launch resulted in only 8 help-line calls from all UK Post Offices. The success of the project lay in a deep understanding of the daily operational use the guide would be put to.
Royal Mail Invoices
Boag Associates were consulted to formulate a proposition for the redesign of the Royal Mail business-to-business invoices. Boag’s stakeholder research led to a redefining of the brief and the establishment of key performance indicators. The opinions of relevant stakeholders were sought and logged on a matrix, which visually demonstrated the key issues and provided a ‘high-level strategic overview’. Boag consulted with: staff responsible for generating invoice data; those who processed incoming payments; help-centre staff; and staff in the printing and fulfilment centre. Boag also met with a range of Royal Mail customers. The redesign had to work within technical constraints imposed by Royal Mail’s finance system. Through analysis and observation Boag identified the key concerns that needed to be addressed: there was insufficient detail contained on the invoice for most customer’s accounts departments; payment slips were unclear and unnecessarily provided on each page of each invoice; the invoice variants didn’t distinguish clearly enough their separate functions; the previous designs didn’t have any background information on how to pay etc. Boag developed additional information, which was accredited by the Plain Language Commission. Boag made effective use of pre-printed colour to distinguish information zones; they grouped information into logical clusters; they brought clarity to form titles, key totals, amounts and dates; and compatibility with window envelopes was improved. The clarity of language and improved presentation of information led to an increase in customer satisfaction; and potentially improved cash flow; and reduced help centre calls.
Dubberly’s Design Office
Please find below Hugh Dubberly’s overview of approaches to the design process.