A Briggs Intranet

As part of the IT team for a small passport and visa expediting firm, I standardized recording processes and connected multiple offices across the US by designing and implementing online business processes. Used user observation and expert interviews, and learned to use PHP & MySQL.

Brief: Make it Dynamic

The client had spent more than a year developing a website to automate customer receipts, internal Order Status reports, document requirement lists, and many other functions.

They asked me to help make the system more flexible, but couldn't tell me which aspects of the system were too rigid, which were most important, nor even which were being used or not.

Understanding the Problem

The existing website reveals the organization’s view of how a customer obtains travel documents:

  • read several pages of instructions
  • choose a product based on travel plans
  • place an order through the website
  • mail documents
  • receive new visa/passport a few days later

But the website doesn’t help much with exceptional cases - about 40% of the total. This is where the couriers step in to:

  • call the customer to help find valid documents
  • comply with consulate’s detailed/tacit rules
  • help customer interpret the instructions
Analyzing Weaknesses

A courier deals with an order for just a few minutes at a time, but accesses each of 20-30 open cases multiple times per day.

The online system was designed to keep track of each order’s status (ready to be dropped off, ready to be picked up, etc) so that anyone in the company can answer a customer's questions. But couriers rely on paper records because they are more portable, more flexible, and more dependable.

What's more, the website’s search function could take upwards of 30 seconds to return results, and offered no way to search by date, location, or order status.

Solution: Faceted Search

A design pattern (from About Face 3 by Cooper, Reimann, and Cronin. 2007. Pg 329) provided a great solution without the need for extensive user testing or multiple rounds of prototyping.

I created a specification of how the software would function and how it would look, and created the front-end code within two weeks.