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Admiral's Club App

A secure member only, geo-enabled app, connecting business leaders across the globe.

To comply with my non-disclosure agreement, I have omitted and obfuscated confidential information in this case study.The information in this case study is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of YPO


“...on layovers, I want to find other members to talk to instead of chatting with some random stranger in the Admirals lounge. Build me that.” member quote and inital directive for building the app.


Overview


Young Presidents Organization (YPO), is a global community of chief executives that was founded to help connect CEOs with peers so they can learn from each other and grow together. The "Connect App," initially known as "The Admirals Club," was envisioned to address a challenge faced by YPO members - the need to connect securely and safely with other members while traveling across the globe. This case study outlines the UX design and development process of the app, highlighting three significant challenges and solutions encountered by the cross-functional, multi-continental team.


The final version of the app incorporated the following features:

  • Full member and spouse/partner directory.

  • Geolocation services to display nearby members and their information.

  • Geolocation for nearby member businesses. Post-MVP but critical for success to design it with MVP.

  • Robust security and privacy settings.

  • Ability to find and register for YPO events.


Challenges

Challenge #1: Multiple Design and Dev Entities 

The overall project team comprised multiple development and design teams: an in-house onshore team, an offshore team, and two third-party agencies specializing in app development and were brought in as consultants at various stages during the project. As the lead UX designer, I quickly saw a potential for silo build-up; the antithesis of progress. To overcome this, I assumed the role of a creative director and lead UX designer, ensuring there was consistent UX and brand direction across all teams. I addressed inconsistencies, resolved design conflicts, and policed design scope to maintain timeline integrity.


Challenge #2: Uncharted (Documented) Territory

The YPO dev team lacked experience building native apps, and the partnership with an offshore team added complexity. To address this, I took the initiative to create new operating methods and document design precedents. These artifacts laid the groundwork for a working design system facilitating future development and strengthening continued collaboration.


Challenge #3: Are we sure? 

Senior management's never-ending debate over technology concerns and direction kept vital data management decisions locked up. I helped steer the discussion by conducting UX research and collaborating with engineering to present our unified results. Because of this iniative a deal was brokered and provided the C-suite confidence in our teamwork to move forward The project and the app were renamed "The Connect App."



Solutions

Collaboration is the Key to Success: 

Effective collaboration among our team in India, the Product Owner, and various stakeholders was crucial to achieving our goal. Despite initial challenges, we established a well-coordinated workflow. UX worked ahead on deliverables such as wireframes and hi-res comps and handed them over to the onshore and offshore teams. Regular communication and a Kanban-style process ensured smooth progress.


Breakfast (and dinner) with Calcutta: 

Communication was vital for the distributed team, given the significant time difference. I, the onshore PO and leads in India, agreed to schedule handoff calls at 5 AM and 9 PM to maintain continuous communication and stay ahead of the development schedule. 


In-flight Turbulence and Quick Redesign/Callibration: 

One of the significant design hurdles was the "find-a-member" feature, where privacy issues arose upon conducting pre-release user testing. It went beyond simple privacy, however, with a very valid concern being about the personal safety of our members and their families. I am very grateful we caught it; however, it resulted from not accounting for my internal bias of not being a CEO and lack of empathy during discovery. A gutting reminder that our work in UX has the potential for life-or-death outcomes long after our wireframes are developed, such as kidnapping, ransom, or worse.


Until now the architecture and navigation were dependent on each other. Spillting out the funcitonality of the app into a Directory and a Near Me features caused the team some time but with colloboration and hard work it was easily overcame. 


Conclusion: 

This UX case study emphasizes the importance of collaboration, communication, and flexibility in delivering successful projects in a distributed team environment. By overcoming design challenges, actively seeking feedback, and maintaining an efficient workflow, the team successfully created the "Connect App" to facilitate meaningful connections.



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