Designing a new interface to speed up sending parcels for large businesses.

Decommissioning 20 old, clunky, legacy lodgement systems seems like a daunting task, but with a strong strategy and co-designing with users, I designed a new interface that helps large businesses speed up their warehouses workflow when they receive an online order from a customer.

StarTrack / Australia Post Sending App
Australia Post
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20 legacy systems with inconsistent and poor user experiences that are not maintained or updated.

When Australia Post acquired StarTrack in 2008, they inherited 20 bespoke apps. Each time Startrack acquired a new contract customer, like Myer or David Jones, they would build a new system for them, based on their specific needs. These apps were hard to maintain and a huge concern to security, as a lot of them were running on MS-DOS, or even Windows XP. We had one instance, where a customer was buying up all the computers they could find that were still running on Windows XP, just in case their warehouse computers broke down, so they could still operate their online business. As you can imagine, it’s not easy working with this kind of legacy. The experience was fragmented, inconsistent ancient and really hard on users.

Less than 3 clicks to print a shipping label

My team was briefed to help large businesses send their online orders with a new, web based interface that would improve their warehouses speed and efficiency when printing shipping labels. I was responsible for interaction design, usability and visual design.

An important aspect was learnability - after using it 3-5 times, the user should be an expert using the app. Starting with the foundation that all businesses needed: creating shipments, printing labels & creating manifests. The strategy was to migrate businesses over to the new system as features they required were built upon from this foundation.

How a large online store ships an item

When a business’ customer buys an item on their website, the order is imported into their fulfilment app, a warehouse worker picks and packs order, and prints the label. The order is picked up by Australia Post or Star Track and delivered to the business' customer.

By visiting workers in their warehouse setting alongside a user researcher, I established the most common workflow for a lot of warehouse workers was to find the items needed for shipment and then place them in the correct packaging, weigh the parcel and then print the shipping label. The parcel then is placed into a pallet to be picked up by Australia Post or Startrack at the end of the day. This was true of orders that were as small as one eyeliner to 100kg of steel.

After talking to users, I found that they were often time poor and needed to get orders out as quickly as possible. They needed to be able to find an order quickly and easily, and they currently had a lot of manual workarounds they undertake to get an order out the door. The main use of the app would be to update the weight of a parcel or its packaging before printing the label. Most other data points would be already imported.

Codesigning with users

We gave ourselves a rhythm where we were testing prototypes with users every fortnight, meaning I was able to refine the experience until we knew that majority of users would be happy with the end result.

To create a shipping label, there are many fields a user has to fill out. I tested 2 different forms with users - one was a multi-step process, and the other was a long form with all fields on the one page. Although my hypothesis was that the multi-step form would be easier and less cognitive load, unanimously users preferred the long form, saying it was better because it was faster to complete, easier to review, reduced human error and was easier to train staff on.

I also had an assumption that users would regularly use search to find a shipment, rather than scroll through a big list and this was confirmed in user testing. Rather than hiding search away, we made it front and centre and ensured it was clear to the user what they could search for.

The testing was a big success, and we achieved a Customer Effort Score of 4.2 (a score of 3.5 or above is seen as an outstanding result).

"Having too much information on the screen makes it harder to find what you’re looking for. I like this, it’s clean.”

User testing participant

To speed up their workflow, I believed that keeping them in the context of the list of orders would be better than an entire new page load. I designed a quick edit feature, that expanded the table row to allow them to edit the weight or packaging type of the parcel. I built an interactive prototype and tested with users, and they found this in-context editing much faster than their current manual overrides.

Creating a design system for Australia Post

Once we were happy with the UX and user flows, I was tasked with designing the visual look of the user interface. As this was a new web app for StarTrack, I had the freedom to explore and design new interface elements and interactions whilst consolidating design components and patterns with the  Australia Post brand. I used Zeplin with developers and Abstract with fellow designers to provide version control on the design system as it was built upon and updated. I was also a part of a working group that would build on from my work and implement a design system throughout Australia Post web products.

It’s been a great experience working at a bigger company and I’ve had the chance to work on other projects like MyPost Business, as well as participate in design sprints for Digital iD whilst helping shape processes for future designers and UX teams.

Want to chat more about this project and other things I’ve worked on?

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