ux case study 3
Australian Army BushMaster Training App
Roles & Responsibilities
The Australian Army Resource App (AMBMTA) was being developed to bring separate teaching resources into a central hub, but the main feature was the introduction to the maintenance modules of the Army BushMaster vehicle.
This was to be an in-class training resource, where the instructor would allocate tasks and a lot of self-paced learning would take place.
The difference between this app and any other eLearning resources is the privacy and confidential elements in the course could not be shared with the web, especially some of the technical data, hence being an intranet asset.
Role: UX Designer, UI and Graphics
Understand client requirements and conduct a needs-finding session
Speak to instructors about their existing resources and identify some of their pain points with the current resources
Developing personas, journey maps, and timelines to understand how the students are not only showing up to class but parts of their daily routines likely to affect their learning experience
Short questionnaires to understand certain aspects of how they learn
Low-fidelity using paper drawings and mockups
Low-fidelity prototyping using tools like Balsamiq, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator
Low fidelity using paper drawings and mockups, guerilla testing
Medium fidelity prototyping using tools like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Balsamiq
Hi-fidelity prototyping in collaboration with the dev team
Integrate new written content into eLearning storyboards and apps
Develop images, diagrams, and other resources for teaching
Organise print and digital assets to be used in blended learning
UI development for the app both for tablet and PC
Bringing all the different teaching resources to one central hub, these resources included existing digital training and also print-based training.
The problem was, we had to standardise all of it, make it Army brand compliant and update all slides and manuals too, we even got to develop PowerPoint presentations.
We wanted to have a simple and easy-to-use app where we would eliminate things like ‘double-clicking’, dormant signifiers, and loading time for some of the larger content.
In terms of affordances, simple buttons, menus, and video playing that were both visible and intuitive, people knew what actions would follow after clicking sliding, etc. it sounds simple but when you deal with people who often have limited technology experience, simplicity then becomes even more important.
User & Audience
This was to be deployed for the cavalry or light infantry divisions, or transport; any branches where the BushMaster would be needed to transport people around.
The course itself would be for junior non-commissioned officers from the ranks of private to corporal. The instructors were from the rank of senior corporal to warrant officers, so I was told.
Helping her to learn
May just completed her basic training, and after successfully graduating from her IET course (Initial Employment Training), she now wants to learn how to maintain BushRanger vehicles.
She has a passion for motor vehicles and she has shown aptitude and attitude for all things mechanical.
She is a cheerful and competent person who wants to become a Warrant Officer later in her career.
Learning the content
A simple snapshot of what May does and how she feels about such tasks.
Please keep in mind, this is just a snapshot and not the whole journey map, otherwise, it will be massive.
Scope & Constraints
Centralise all training resources, update and improve on existing materials, all to be attached to the Australian Army Resource App (AMBMTA).
This was to be a classroom resource, no remote access was needed, all students and instructors had to do was to complete the activities and help clarify any material which was not clear to the students.
There were other resources attached to the app via pdf, links, and other resources such as downloadable value charts, e.g. torque settings for certain quick repair sequences.
Breaking up the information into logical sequences, one subject leading on to the next to make the learning experience (LX) a positive one.
There were a few people posting out of the base/role and there was an issue with continuation, having to deal with different people along the way.
Apart from logistics, and conflicting timelines, everything went well, they have the ability to organise, delegate and distribute which is outstanding.
My own constraints would have been trying to keep up with it all, but there was a lot of room to grow and evolve.
Deliverables were challenging for me, I guess, because we had a lot of technical issues, but not from my end, eventually we worked out what was wrong.
It did not reflect badly on me, I did the research, the architecture, journey mapping, etc. the low-fidelity prototypes went well, but when we got to the high-fidelity prototypes, things go a little complicated.
The research method was mostly behavioral/qualitative and also attitudinal, as we needed to see how the students, SMEs, and instructors used the prototypes, and it was simple for technology entry-level users.
Being a web-based platform, it was not difficult to understand. The incorporation of other learning material was simple but we had to be careful where things went where, we did a simple card sorting exercise at the start but it was just to give us a brief understanding of how the information architecture was to be done. It was my job to refine content placement based on subject and hierarchy.
The navigation had a few drop-down menus, don’t know why there are so popular with some clients, so we went with them, there are always design pitfalls whenever use them, but this time the users liked them. I did caution about the click area being big enough so the user would not have to mouse over it twice which is bad design.
Every subject had its own page, however, some of them had to be placed together due to their content size, but still worked, it was not crowded, if anything it went well because the lesson dovetailed nicely, and the students didn’t have to click on other links to take them there.
One of the issues we faced was the brand colours, because they wanted to use that olive green for some of it, including the buttons and I suggested using black or a charcoal-type shade in order for the button to be visible.
That decision to introduce black paid off, now we needed to do the same with the existing learning content, it needed to be redone so the timing was perfect.
There were a few significant changes along the way, and I was not prepared for them but after a bit of negotiation regarding delivery times, I was able to get extra time to get it all done, example was some of the information architecture, images, student training aids, etc.
We needed to compromise on font size or the amount of content to be included. The problem we faced was not only the massive amount of information in the app, how to structure it and how to make it flow, some basic quizzes were also incorporated.
I am still not happy with the mixed ratio between written content, pictures, quizzes, etc. but I could only make suggestions and try to make a case.
Linking other satellite content worked, as long as the hyperlinks were not broken or the documents in the server were not being moved or deleted.
A combination of remote and in-person show and tell was done efficiently.
Why did I do it?
To cetralise all teaching materials for this particular vehicle into a single module. But we started with a single module app to see if it worked and it did.
Outcomes & Results
The project went reasonably well, I had to change the original scope and adjust it to suit new needs and requirements, but as it went along things fell into place.
I should know by now if you map out a project and become set on specific outcomes you will lose your mind when the client asks for certain things to be done differently, and flexibility is a must.
The prototypes were simpler than usual, this was just a PC training app, and it didn’t need to be scaled down to mobile, we did however provide a solution for tablets, just in case.
The branding aspect was a bit tricky at times because olive green on its own is not a very good colour unless you use it as a background with big bold white letters, and the fact that black and yellow are part of the brand colours made our job easy.
I was expecting it to be more difficult because of the people we were dealing with at the beginning but as they moved and others came in, it was a lot smoother not only in terms of deliverables, having flexible timelines which took the sting off the whole thing.
Sourcing the images, graphics, and some other interactive content was hard at times because either we had to wait or we got the wrong source material. This source material was key for both digital and print materials for the blended part of the project.
Patience has to be exercised here, and with any other project, the sleepless nights eventually pay off, well, as far as my involvement it did, I did what I was told and delivered something people were happy with.
The processes and scope for The Australian Army Resource App (AMBMTA) were refined as we went along, especially in our career path, it takes experience and deep understanding in order to fully understand what the client requires right off the calf, and this is at times frustrating.
I would do things slightly differently, I would spend more time asking questions to the users, and trying to understand how the instructors will use the app, eventually, we did, but sometimes taking longer to sharpen the axe will make the cutting process better.
I must admit, my research methods will only improve over time, so I can’t afford to be too self-critical, because that is how we grow and evolve as designers.
Adobe CC saved me many times, as some of the quick prototypes were made using illustrator and photoshop at times when I didn’t have enough time to play with more interactive stuff or the other programs were playing up.
Thanks so much for reading my case.