HP Smart Consumer Account Portal
The Team & My Role
The HP Smart account portal is a cloud-based site that allows users access to their printers, subscriptions, services, supplies, users and more.
This project began in 2019 when we launched with just one user, consumers. We've now expanded to SMB (Small Medium Business) and ECP (Enterprise) but my focus remains on the consumer portal. I work closely with our UX lead to define and deliver on requirements, as well as the SMB team to maintain a consistent experience and development teams.
This case study will focus on my role during the initial launch of the consumer portal. I think this story best captures my ability to lead, improve process, deliver on requirements and work with partners.
In a sentence, creating clarity from complexity while serving a variety of users. I had been working on a solution to update our company’s signed-in account experience where our SMB (small and medium business) customers are in need of a more elegant, robust and updated design. While the early experience and legacy website was not originally designed or owned by my team, our new solution— which we are referring to as the Portal, will provide a better format for adding necessary features and functionality for a logged in user.
This project is complex for many reasons: one is creating an experience that meets the needs of many types of users with varying capabilities, two: leading a team on a high priority project while adopting a new working model and lastly, leaning into strong cross-functional collaboration.
Understand users’ varying needs and capabilities
In order to successfully build this new version of the logged in site, we’ve had to consider many elements including different products, users and experiences. Initially, when the project began, there were only two different users being considered: the printer owner and invited user. A user can have their own account but is limited in some ways regarding what they can do and access. Being a company with a large product line that includes older printer models, (or what we refer to as legacy) we also have to manage how these customers will navigate the various sites, since we couldn’t immediately retire the existing logged in site.
“As the project began to evolve and as I investigated various technical limitations, we expanded to serve eight different types of users which had to be defined and documented.”
For example, we have a number of different users with different entitlements, or access to features based on their product and location. These entitlements are dependent and vary based on a number of factors including software offerings, subscriptions, ink or toner printers, country, and ownership or admin capabilities.
Adjust to new team structure and working model
At the same time we began this project, our design organization had adopted a new team structure and working model to improve efficiency. While we’ve always had user experience strategy, interaction designers and visual designers, we’ve recently split into more tactical teams focused on one area with an assigned design lead for each team: with me as the IX lead for Portal and other leads covering areas like app solutions and subscriptions. Additionally, as a lead, I’ve always made a point to hold regular stand ups to track and review requests, open tasks and see if anyone is blocked or provide any necessary context or guidance.
“An additional layer of complexity is that I have to coordinate with the other design leads to keep us up to date and ensure the teams are aligned as the project progresses towards its milestones.”
To streamline this process even more, I helped create a new process and workflow in collaboration with our project manager that would document and outline the necessary checks and milestones across teams and disciplines. For example, design would have an initial meeting with marketing and R&D to define and align on goals. If there was a need for analytics, we implemented analytics reviews. We always worked with content and copy, but we discovered they needed to be more integrated with the process so we established copy reviews. All of this naturally needed to be tracked because it was so complex, so we used a dashboard to keep track of status, milestones and schedules. Additionally, to make things even more clear we established criteria and definitions of “done” to ensure there was consensus on what that truly meant.
Collaborate well with cross-functional partners
Because this project has been so technically complex, it’s also been important to ensure that I was working in step with developers. That said, a knowledge and background in software development has been extremely helpful. When there are a lot of moving parts and complexities on the back-end of an experience, it’s valuable to know as a designer what types of things you can ask for, what types of things you can push back on, etc.
“Having an understanding of the technical limitations or guardrails can increase your influence and ability to lead more strategically on a project like this.”
For example, I knew we needed to address the needs of our users and still solve for the needs of the business. It had to be a balance of both. Because the business priority was less about legacy users and more about SMB (which naturally is a more profitable, high-end customer), I wanted to find a way for our existing consumer users to still be served. So I began working with our developers to figure out what we could do for them, and retire anything that might be considered antiquated or irrelevant. Once we decided on the most valuable changes, we’d bring those into the portal experience and retire the legacy website.
Design and marketing is also an important relationship for any product launch; and good communication and collaboration across these functions can be crucial to success. While marketing owns and decides the high level business needs for our products, it’s important to know as a designer what kinds of things can be negotiated or how to work to find common ground and ensure everyone feels like they are working towards the same goal. It’s a tricky balance when the process requires the design work begins and marketing is still deciding and distilling which offerings are most relevant or highest priority.
Because of the experience I’ve had with this company and in my role— I’ve learned that while marketing identifies the most crucial business needs and goals, it’s up to design to decide how that’s done and ensure that it’s also still the best experience possible for our customers. With this new working model in place, everything has been even more streamlined.
While this is our first time working under this new structure, we’re already seeing vast improvements from how we used to work. With more structure in place, designers have much clearer lanes and know exactly what needs to be done. There is much more clarity and it makes things easier for everyone.
As a result of this work, we have created an experience that is seamless and intuitive for our users regardless of the printer they own or the platform they’re on. Customers can easily find and have access to all the tools and features they need. Additionally, with a new way of working across functions, it’s been so valuable to find new opportunities and strategies to improve collaboration with our partners. As a lead, I’ve been advocating for what I think is the best solution and giving us the best path forward, whether it’s migrating all of our prototypes to Figma and using the design system I helped build, or making sure that our legacy users are not left out of the upgraded portal experience.
“Marketing advocates for the business— and designers advocate for the customer”
Additionally, with a new way of working across functions, it’s been so valuable to find new opportunities and strategies to improve collaboration with our partners in a way that will help us be successful in not just this project but many more to come.