JORDANA GLOBERMAN

GCXchange Collaborative Platform

Problem

I was hired to fix significant UX issues in GCXchange, an interdepartmental collaborative platform for all of the Government of Canada, expected to be the largest Microsoft instance in the world.

Role - Manager of UX & Service Design

As manager of UX for Collaborative Platforms for the Government of Canada, I led end-to-end research and design for the project. I managed a team of designers and researchers and took on the role of product owner while we waiting for one to be added to the team.

Team

Me + 2 designers, 3 client support agents, 3 developers, 1 cloud architect.

Project designs and recommendations were implemented and shared with the Assistant Deputy Minister.

Context & Approach

 

GCXchange was created between 2019 and 2021. The platform was intended to be a digital workplace and collaboration site for federal employees across Canada, in all departments and agencies. It would include tools employees would need daily, like pay and pension information, as well as joinable e-communities for collaboration, and official interdepartmental news. Since the federal government works primarily with Microsoft programs, it was decided that this platform would be built from Microsoft tools with a foundation in Team and Sharepoint.

 

When the platform launched in 2021, it launched with little UX behind it. No usability testing had been done on the platform, and most design decisions had been motivated by a single round of one-click testing on a LowFi homepage prototype, or by a top-down push. I was hired in April 2022, to fix the result of these decisions. I was asked to build a team of skilled UX designers & researchers and to make the platform's user experience intuitive, accessible and delightful.

A photo of nine people sitting around a table discussing something. One is an interpreter and one is taking notes.

Tools

 

  • Product Roadmapping

  • Affinity Mapping

  • Design Strategy

  • Heuristic Evaluation

  • Performance Metrics

  • Web Analytics

  • Benchmarking

  • Accessibility Testing & Research

  • Agile UX Sprints

  • Remote Usability Testing

  • Quantitative Evaluative Analysis

  • HiFi Prototyping

  • Multivariate testing

  • UX Copy Writing & UX Design

  • Content Strategy

I began research with a literary review, working with two other researchers. We examined best practices in accessibility and universal design, as well as in conducting research with persons with disabilities. This allowed us to streamline our questioning. We wondered:

  • How advanced are federally regulated industries in providing accessible experiences for employees and clients?

  • Are there benchmarks that can be provided to these industries?

  • What does going beyond compliance look like with regard to the act and what are the hopes/expectations of persons with disabilities?

To gain more clarity on these questions, I led ethnographic interviews with 22 subject matter experts and users, exploring their experiences broadly and digging deep into challenges. I spoke to accessibility leaders from Microsoft and Bell, as well as users from different regions of Canada. I used qualitative coding to distill the information into design specifications for a series of co-design workshops.

I led 3 sets of 2-day codesign workshops with persons with disabilities and executives from federally regulated industries in February and March of 2020. Workshops took place in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. I had a GIS map of created, and based workshop locations areas with the densest and most diverse areas of pertinent industry. C-Suite executives from across the country and persons with visual, auditory, cognitive, intellectual and/or motor impairments, as well as neuro-divergence, attended as participants.

 

Traditional co-design activities aren't accessible; we needed to adapt ours and test them extensively with persons with disabilities before the workshops. Our Montreal workshop was bilingual, with two sets of interpreters. Activities like scenario development and journey mapping became facilitated conversations with the support of interpreters and assistive technology. We doubled the time required for each exercise and practiced them extensively. We iterated on designs several times before the workshops and it paid off.

A photo of seven people sitting around a table in discussion. One person is interpreting. Another man walks by in the background.

Participants told us these were the most inclusive events that they had been a part of, and were moved. It went a long way to build trust in government.

Recruiting participants challenging. My colleagues and I spent days on the phone trying to convince industry reps to take two days from work to attend sessions. We also recruited at a local conference. We found users with disabilities by looking for regional service providers and using a snowball sampling approach. Procuring services to support the workshops was sometimes challenging. In Vancouver, we spent weeks looking for support personnel with skills in AAC. In the end, we managed to reach our target participation of around 40 people per workshop.

My intention with these workshops was to provide as accessible and inclusive an experience as possible in order for capacity building to be part of the experience. Through these workshops we were not only learning what persons with disabilities expected from federally regulated industry; we were showing industry reps what persons with disability expected from them. It was very effective.

I also wrote a survey for those who couldn't attend the workshops. TD's Innovation Lab participated in our research through a focus group too.

 

As project lead, I designed the strategy and activities for the project as whole, and led the delivery of each project milestone. I also managed client relationships. This project involved a lot of risk and, especially in a government context, this never goes down easy. I spent late nights working with clients to explain the design process, protect its integrity, and strategize risk mitigation. In addition, I also managed relationships with other departments and regulatory agencies whose work overlapped with ours.

A graphic recording illustration of a conversation. Thematic sessions include Planning Process, Feedback Loops, Accessibility Plans and Prioritization Process, as well as a the pillars of the Accessible Canada Act.
Graphic recording from our Toronto workshop

Result

 

The output from our workshops, interviews and surveys was iterated into several paper prototypes, including:

  • Model accessibility plans

  • Frameworks for leading accessible workshops (including resources for budgeting and recruiting participants, and the plans for the workshops we developed)

  • A proposal for a repository of accessibility experts, individuals with lived experience, and organizations representing persons with disabilities

  • A requirements list for an online hub to support accessibility among federally regulated industry

  • A journey mapping tool to support federally regulated industry

These prototypes were given to our client, the Accessibility Secretariat at ESDC, to inform their regulatory guidance and future standards. The process of co-creation with users with disabilities ensured these prototypes went beyond compliance, to be more in line with the desires of users with accessibility needs. Participants praised the workshops for being the most accessible approaches they had experienced; as a result, the workshop design was also shared with federally regulated agencies as a prototype of an engagement format that they could use to be compliant with the new Act’s demand to engage persons with disabilities on all Accessibility planning.