During the summer of 2015, I worked as a UX intern at Meridium Inc, where I worked on a couple of projects involving the design, research and engineering of data visualizations for modules within their Asset Performance Management software.
The Reliability centered maintenance module within the larger APM software contains data about machinery, their expected performance, how they can fail, causes, effects and consequences of such failures, and recommendations to prevent or reduce the effects of failures. This data is available primarily in the form of data sheets.
After building a proof of concept working version of an interactive data visualization using d3.js, I evaluated the design against 2 other candidate solutions that existed within the software. I ran a pilot with my mentor and then ran the within subject study with 5 users, 2 of whom were subject matter experts and the other 3 who had no prior experience with any of the 3 interfaces.
The most common feedback was regarding the look and feel of the prototype. This was primarily because the implementation was a standalone Proof of concept, it was hard for the users to imagine how it would fit within the existing software. As a researcher, I had to take some of the responses with a grain of salt due to this. Working on this project has taught me to be on the look out for such factors as well as be mindful of how that affects the evaluation.
Asset events for example repair events, failure events, maintenance events are logged extensively and regularly. This data has a lot of attributes such as when and where it took place, the severity of the event, the loss it incurs, the cost associated with it, the downtime and so on.
Working on this project gave me a chance to understand and appreciate the importance of involving subject matter experts ad stakeholders, early on in the process of design. Another major takeaway for me from this internship experience was the learning that it is okay to seek help, when stuck.
I spent a lot more time than I should have on some of these projects, as I was fairly new at Illustrator and Photoshop. But following my mentors advise, I now know that it is okay to seek help from mentors and/or peers if I am stuck after spending a reasonable amount of time trying to figure something out for myself.