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iQ Payments and Reporting Platform.

Case Study: My Journey in Transforming a Payment Reporting Platform

Introduction

This case study centers on a single product's transformation journey, enduring two acquisitions and significant changes in leadership while undergoing a complete overhaul of its codebase. The product in focus is 'iQ,' a transaction and payments reporting platform initially developed by Vantiv Integrated Payments in 2015.


Before I delve into the details, it's crucial to understand how iQ evolved into a product under the Worldpay umbrella. Vantiv, the initial owner of iQ, acquired Worldpay in 2018. To leverage Worldpay's brand recognition, Vantiv assumed the Worldpay name. Shortly after that, FIS acquired the newly formed Worldpay (Vantiv) but also retained the Worldpay branding, becoming known as Worldpay from FIS.



Acquisition history of Worldpay
Acquisition history of Worldpay

Transistion to Ionic

I joined the team in November, six months after FIS acquired WorldPay. My roles encompassed day-to-day iQ UX tasks ("keeping the lights on") and providing expertise to engineering as they migrated iQ's codebase to Ionic. During this process, UX work consisted of standard sprint-level activities: wireframing. Producing high-res comps and testing any new features that need to be added or modifications to existing ones. The second reason, and my priority, was to evaluate the platform's current UX and offer my opinion and solutions to fix anything I found that might need attention. However, the holders of the purse strings were either ill-informed or did not fully understand the work required to elevate the experience—or both. Therefore, a meager budget was allocated, which meant I would have to employ creative diplomacy and out-of-the-box thinking to earn my keep. Yet, it was the type of challenge I enjoyed; however, the phrase, "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission," became very true for me in the coming months.


Identifying Problems and Crafting Solutions

Two philosophies emerged regarding the project's approach: strictly sticking with the planned code upgrade to Ionic, and nothing else, or taking the opportunity to address the enourmous UX Debt that had accumulated over the years while we were "under the hood."


Original iQ Homepage on the Day I Started
Look of the Original iQ Homepage the Day I Started

iQ, much like many platforms first developed in the early days of Aigle, had grown organically with little adherence to UX best practices. It had become a necessary tool for many enterprise orginizations such as Wal-mart and Kroger. Yet it was a challenge, relying on tribal knowledge in most cases for successful operation. My boss was of the mindset that advocated fixing UX issues "while we were under the hood." Since he was also the product owner, we proceeded cautiously with the under-the-hood approach. By cautiously, I mean I quietly created a UX debt list and had designs for them at the ready. Knowing we would get significant pushback from dev, part of having the designs ready included solid research, talking points and implementation plans for each feature. Unique deliverables such as this are what I would provide to the project manager for use in calming the waters. Reassure the team that the UX work would not slow them down and force a missed deadline.


However, the first part, getting research, was a bit tricky as it was a new concept for the team, yet one everyone acknowledged was needed and had value. However, to do so required more budget and time to take it on. Therefore, I had to figure this out, but without funds and support, this meant no interviews with customers, no card sorts, no paper studies etc., but that did not mean we could not do research. The panacea came in weekly feedback reports compiled from the help desk call center. Sent company-wide, they contained a section documenting addressed issues and corresponding solutions so others could learn from them should the same problem happen again to them on a call. I parsed that data and compiled compelling justifications for addressing the UX issues. From there, I formed a list of objectives, as I saw them from easy to complex to fix and put forward fresh designs with a recommended phased implementation plan. With these, I collaborated with the project managers, business owners and QA to verify the feasibility and lay out some high-level requirements. The approach was:


  • To Provide users with a concise, visually appealing summary of their account cash flow: total sales minus returns.

  • Address the proliferation of ads and announcements that made the homepage look like a high school prom's sponsor page by creating a designated area and a simple content management system (CMS) to administer it.

The organizations self-promotion and over-communication was causing iQ to loose value.
The organizations self-promotion and over-communication was causing iQ to loose value.

New proposed announcement section

New proposed announcement section
New proposed announcement section just under the top navigation.

Simple CMS to manage announcements along with a new archive page.

Simple CMS to manage announcements along with a new archive page.
Simple CMS to manage announcements along with a new archive page.

  • Introduce self-service capabilities for users to obtain copies of their invoices, a feature long sought by the business.

  • Enhance the platform by delivering customizable trend data and a new dashboard, enabling users to focus on the trends they deem valuable.

Overcoming Resistance

Engineering initially perceived these changes as superficial, mere cosmetic enhancements. Anything beyond direct backend code upgrades was considered scope creep. My challenge lay in persuading them to look past preconceived ideas and see that we were proposing fundamental changes with value to the user. It required effective communication and, in some cases, subtle psychological methods to make them believe these ideas were their own.


A great example of this was the last phase of the proposal. In my research, I noticed that iQ was rich with data and valuable information that was either locked away in obscure databases or was not directly reported on and had to be referenced from different inputs, like the busiest time of day metric. This metric turned out to be one that our users loved, but it had to be gleaned from the amount of transactions compared to the amount of sales and put together. So, to get many of these similar type of metrics I had to work closely with dev to find out what was possible. In so doing, they got excited to work on solutions instead of pushing code, leading to more discovered possibilities and an invested interest in seeing them implemented, which meant their support for UX.



First phase cleaning up vital content and displaying it in a more digestible manner.
First phase cleaning up vital content and displaying it in a more digestible manner.
Next phases Introducing announcements, self serve and better insights.
Next phases Introducing announcements, self serve and better insights.
Last proposed phase to introduce new deeper insights that could be gleaned from the large amounts of secondary data including ways for the user to control what they wanted to see.
Last proposed phase to introduce new deeper insights that could be gleaned from the large amounts of secondary data including ways for the user to control what they wanted to see.

"Change is like a large, powerful wave. You can defy it, only to be bruised and beaten backward, or dive into it and emerge unscathed on the other side." Quote from a former boss to me during a reduction in force (RIF) implemented by American Express (now Blackhawk

Change of Direction

Several factors altered iQ's trajectory significantly. Firstly, iQ needed to align with FIS's IDP system and incorporate Multi-factor Authentication, presenting an unexpectedly complex challenge influencing the platform's direction. Secondly, a change in leadership occurred as my boss, the product owner of iQ, departed, and I began reporting to the global head of UX in London. This transition marked a shift in the product's ownership, now under the purview of London, the former Worldpay entity.


I should clarify since the purpose of this case study is to highlight how to get UX done when operating as the only UX resource I was in contact with Worldpay's UX department since almost day one. However, territorialism was still in full effect, and even though I reached out many times, we continued operating as two separate entities. From then on, I continued my work on iQ and considered the larger UX team a review resource to provide advice and recommendations. Knowing it was just a matter of time, my intent in working this way was to lay the foundation for a good working relationship when I joined that group, but until then, I was on my own.


Under this new ownership, iQ faced heightened scrutiny, validating some of my frustrations regarding the vast UX debt and tepid interest in addressing it. It became a unanimous decision to reinitiate the project, but UX led the way this time. The objective shifted from an enterprise redesign with a small business component to redesigning iQ specifically for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). User research, card sorting, and other UX best practices drove the roadmap decisions moving forward.


Branding Transition

A significant mandate from FIS dictated that iQ adopt the FIS branding. In simplistic terms, this meant changing red and blue to blue and green. As I had anticipated becoming part of the global UX department, I had also prepared for this transition by quietly designing components and patterns within the FIS design system guidelines. This foresight considerably helped minimize development efforts during the rebranding phase.


Conclusion

This case study illuminates the challenges and solutions encountered by a solitary designer within a substantial organization. Although the project lacked impressive statistics or percentage increases in usage, it showcased creative thinking and leadership within the practical realm of UX design. It demonstrates the art of problem-solving and enhancing user experiences in complex environments.




Back end changes requred for MVP



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