Why water can cut a rock? — A Redesign Tale — Part I

Background

I joined GreyB Research in 2018 as a Software Developer. My role was different from other developers, as my responsibilities were inclined towards the development of UI and UX aspects. This story is from my initials days at GreyB when I was new to the organization and IP industry.

The story starts with an email from Anmol, the Technical Architect of Product Development Team(PDT), at GreyB. In the email, Anmol asked the team to “re-structure the work page of a tool named Slate”.

It was my 2nd month in GreyB. I knew just a little about how the IP industry works and how the tools developed at GreyB were helping to solve IP Problems. High up, the only interaction I had with Slate was with the screenshot that was attached in Anmol’s email. So, on the day when the team was supposed to suggest possible re-structuring, I was quietly listening and absorbing the in’s and out’s of Slate, collating the use cases, user interactions and the expected behaviour.

When Slate was presented in the session, I was intrigued by the idea on which the tool was built — One Patent One Review, a knowledge repository and complete ecosystem for patent analysis. Although Amrit(My Manager) and Anmol were not expecting any wonders from me, I wanted to take up this challenge for myself. Because I was really interested to know more about Slate and all the things it could do.

An attempt to Know Slate

Before jumping into the conception, I had numerous questions on the lines of Slates existence like

  • What is Slate?
  • Why was this tool built?
  • Who all were benefited by this tool?
  • Why someone is going to use Slate and not some other tools available online?

I was drowning in these doubts before, I shared my thought blockage with Anmol and he introduced me to Jatin(the developer of Slate). Jatin pulled me out of the water and helped me to understand the tool and establish a solid foundation about Slate.

Getting Inspired

As I said earlier, being new to the system and IP Industry I wasn’t aware of most IP tools. The only Patent related software I was aware of was Google Patents. So I googled, Google Patents and precisely observed its interface with the eyes of a novice user. I tried to figure out why they did things the way they did and how those were benefiting in users workflow.

The two things that appealed me most in Google Patents were:

  • The big title(on both reading and searching screen)
    But, there is no title displayed on Slate. Knock Knock Jatin Sir — Will a title be useful for our users in the analysis process?
  • Simplified Filters(do more with less approach)
    But, there are no visible filters on Slate. Knock Knock Jatin Sir — Don’t our clients require filters frequently? Why are they hidden?

From Jatin, I came to know, Although the title plays a vital role in the process of patent analysis, in case of our client they don’t have high importance for the title rather they work with publication numbers. (Title —> Not Priority).

And about the filters, it would be great if we're able to present all of them in a subtle way since the work page was already filled with a lot of data points.

Along with that, I took notes on a few other data points about the search and taxonomy operations before I jumped to initiate the layout.

Layout Design — Grouping Data Points and Interactions

Data Points on work page:

  • Jurisdiction Stats— US and Non-US
  • Search and filter the patent list
  • Filter to include and exclude patents based on the taxonomy categorizations
  • Patent List — Patents status, flag categorized patent, and the Tier
  • Portfolio taxonomy — Highlight the taxonomy nodes which are categorized in selected patent
  • Patent Number, Bibliographic Information, Complete patent text, Tier Classification, and a few interactive options around the patent text.

Group related and similar data points

After collating individual data points, I grouped them into three groups — Portfolio Data, Classification, and Individual Patent View.

The first group “Portfolio Data” was the document content which was imported in Slate which contained the list of documents present in the portfolio and its jurisdiction distribution. And the options to trim this list based on various filter options well suited to this group.

The second group “Portfolio Classification”, primarily contains a taxonomy which represents the portfolio categorization. Depending upon the selected patent in the first group, the nodes in which that patent is categorized will be shown with some emphasis.

The third group “Individual Patent”, contains a mini patent reading view, with an option(zen) to enter the full-screen patent reading view. As expected, this will be the patent selected in 1st group.

The workflow of these three groups goes side by side, for an efficient workflow I visualised the workspace as 3 column view with 30–30–40 distribution.

After the logical distribution of content, I created a paper sketch to share my views on this new layout that was designed with an ideology to keep similar content vertically(top to bottom) and linked horizontally(left to right).

Workflow Story

The user will enter the workplace to analyse, shall start from left select the document he wants to Analyse, the document selection will be reflected in Taxonomy Classification. The highlighted taxonomy nodes are categories in which the patent is tagged in which will give the user an overview of the document classification, after which the user can proceed to read the patent.

This layout will support the natural reading flow from left to right without any distractions in between.

Showcase

I shared my idea of redesigned workflow with Amrit and Anmol, well they supported this layout and decided to share it with the clients. What was supposed to be a learning experience was converted into a redesign project and I got the chance to transform Slate in the presented design.

Redesigned look and feel

This is how I grabbed my 1st redesign opportunity at GreyB. Was it beginners luck? Maybe. But this was not where GreyB stopped, rather we decided to take our product Slate to the next level - a product redesign with a lot more features and improved user experience.

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I’m a software engineer by degree, designer by interest and doodler for fun.

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Vandana Munjal

Vandana Munjal

I’m a software engineer by degree, designer by interest and doodler for fun.

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