AFOTEC (Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center) is the Air Force independent test agency responsible for testing, under operationally realistic conditions, new systems being developed for Air Force and multi-service use. I volunteered to help develop a web app for test directors located throughout the country.
Most military members who are part of AFOTEC are in the organization for 2-3 years. In this time they need to incorporate the collective knowledge necessary to do their work, which is often very different from the kind of work they were doing before they joined the organization.
To facilitate this knowledge transfer, AFOTEC's guidance documents typically exist in PDF or word document format and are printed or placed on a MS Sharepoint instance.
But test directors had a hard time finding the information they needed to do their jobs. Each set of information is stored separately, making it difficult for them to find the information quickly. They also had difficulty knowing the steps involving the work they do.
Interviews were an essential process for developing the app. We interviewed a broad base of potential users' via Zoom calls and had them use it live. Although each person expressed different needs, a similar theme began to emerge from the interviews: The current system isn’t working, but having a new system will have its own challenges:
Comments from Interviewees:
“I think it should mirror the style of sites already used in the USAF. ”
“I want a document that shows me what to do next related to my job. It’ll be helpful to have more description of each thing.”
“It needs more images and icons. I want contact information relevant to each phase of my work.”
The goals for the project:
Create an app and integrate information.
Make the app mobile friendly to increase accessibility.
Based on the interviews I began to create a prototype. It consists of three elements:
The web app was created based on the prototype.
At first it was difficult for me to understand the needs of users, since I wasn’t familiar with the nature of their jobs. But after listening to their challenges related to their daily tasks, it was clear that this type of web app would make their work easier and more efficient. I’ve learned that creating a user centered design takes time, and that seeking feedback from stakeholders/users is often essential in creating a product that meets their needs.