Client: Microsoft – Microsoft Partner Network

Project summary: This project consisted of a reimagining of their existing experience, which was split between two platforms – the Partner Network portal site and an LMS called “Partner University.” The disjointed experience had room for improvement, and that’s where we came in.

Microsoft team: Partner Learning & Development

Duration: 4 weeks (August 2018)

My roles: UX Lead

The Journey to Enhanced Learning

These days, consumers have high standards for UX and prefer streamlined, delightful experiences. The following are exploration concepts of what a new learning experience could look like for Microsoft partners.

Objective
The existing experience was limited and didn’t have enough layers in the taxonomy to support their content. They also wanted to see what an experience could look like if it were all in one place, on one platform.
Strategy
I followed the standard UX process, starting with analysis of current state and other learning and training systems in and outside of the Microsoft ecosystem. Data from the analysis coupled with industry standards and best practices informed the overall approach.
Outcome
Our team delivered an analysis & research deck, wireframes and an interactive prototype. The client team used these to inform the next iteration of the future design. As of September 2020, these designs have not yet been implemented.

UX Analysis

I analyzed the existing experience as well as other sites on and off Microsoft ecosystem. Below are examples from that exercise.

Design Language/Nomenclature

Across all of the sites analyzed, there were industry patterns for design language and nomenclature. The graphic below shows both industry and existing patterns for content structure/hierarchy and naming conventions.

Existing Experience

Here is a sample flow starting from the Partner Network website navigation and ending in the off-platform learning site.

Analysis Findings Summary

During the analysis process, I used the same 6 analysis criteria areas and found the results shown below. These insights influenced the UX strategy and approach.

Conceptual Wireframes

Using actual training content from the Surface Reseller Alliance group as the model for the content structure of the design, as well as not being constricted to an off-platform site, we can see how the experience becomes unified and follows industry e-learning/training patterns.

Learning Journey

A learning journey is the highest, parent level page in the content structure. They contain a collection of Learning Paths. Journeys can be thought of as the actual achievement you receive upon completion. Taking the example to the left, once this particular journey is complete they will achieve the Surface Seller Certification from Surface Academy.

A vertical timeline is used to display the Learning Paths. A full hero treatment makes the page feel “top level” / highest in the hierarchy and separates it aesthetically from the pages beneath it.

Since 80% of the sales users are “on-the-go”, sharing and favoriting was included for easy ways to save for later.

Learning Path

Paths are the next level down in the hierarchy. Paths contains a collection of courses. A vertical timeline is used to display the courses, a familiar pattern in this design space. This page acts as an overview; an additional tap takes partners to a course detail page.

Course page

Courses have chapters, with each chapter containing multiple steps that have activities for the partner to do, whether that’s watch a video or download a PowerPoint deck.

In the example shown, the partner is on Chapter 3 “Meet Surface Book 2” and is currently in progress on Step 2 of 3, with Step 1 being Complete and Step 3 being Incomplete.

A timeline is used again to display the chapters as side tabs. When a chapter is selected, the panel on the right displays all steps and their activities (assets) within that selected chapter. This scalable design allows for multiple chapters, steps and assets.

The other tabs include helpful content for partners where they can get more information about the course and even check out what others in the Microsoft Partner Community are saying about it (“Community” tab).

Learning Dashboard

This is a zone diagram showing early concepting for areas of a learning dashboard page, where partners would go to manage all of their training as well as see suggested content based on previous activity.

Updated Experience

Below shows a full flow, from the navigation all the way to the end node Course page. As we can see, the context of sites doesn’t change and the flow is more intuitive.

Results

These designs never made it to production due to timing and resource constraints, but the client was very excited to see what a future could look like and what it would take to get there. As of September 2020, these designs have not yet been implemented.

Key Learnings / Challenges

A key learning for me was how to create a learning management system that can be scalable and used for any Microsoft team’s content, which was a challenge in itself! This forced me to think in a product designer’s sense, as it is merely a template or a shell that content plugs into dynamically.