Responsible Gold™ Supply Chain application (RG SCA) tracks the movement of gold through each stage of the supply chain - from mine to refinery, to vault – to ensure gold is 100% responsibly sourced and conflict-free.
While transferring custody, the participants in the supply chain use an NFC-equipped mobile phone with the RG app installed. Customers scan the chips in tamper-proof seals called cryptoseals. The scans record the transfers of custody of gold on the blockchain in real time.
My Role was to lead the design aimed at improving the user experience, which resulted in reducing task completion time by an average of 2 times.
The app MVP was built by a third-party company. After shipping it, our team of three designers was required to design new features and improve the user experience and visual appearance.
Inability to get access to end-users,
High-security requirements in the gold industry and, as a result, very limited access to the territory of the gold mines, refineries, and vaults
Location of our customers in different countries around the globe
Only one product manager was our company’s sole representative who was allowed to observe the entire gold production process.
Don’t make me think ©
Our customers, who were operators of gold processing companies and logistics providers, had to do a lot of paperwork every day. Entering data into the RG SCA was an extra responsibility for them. Therefore, we needed to build a very simple user experience that should be clear and easy to learn.
To define who the end users were and build empathy with them, the design team ran a workshop together with the product team and the engineering team.
We identified four types of users:
Four criteria to build the personas:
The context where the personas use the app
Jobs to be done
My previous experience as a process engineer at a metallurgical plant helped me understand users' pain points.
It was time to design a new feature.
Adding assets to a shipment unit
During the shift, operators should scan over a hundred cryptoseals. This is a responsible, but rather tedious and time-consuming process. Packing gold kilobars into boxes significantly simplifies the acceptance, since an operator can scan 10-15 cryptoseals depending on the box capacity.
For refiners, packing is just a means of comfortable transportation of gold bars to a vault. Boxes are not inventory items. On blockchain though, "packaging" is crucial to provide proof of the provenance of responsibly sourced gold.
Therefore, the goal was to create a clear and simple process for adding assets to a shipment unit.
Note. A brief clarification of terminology for a better further understanding.
Since the product manager personally communicated with users and watched the process from start to finish, I asked him more specific questions I could not find answers to in his contextual inquiry:
What are the specifics of packing gold kilobars into boxes in reality?
Are boxes labeled? If so, what are those labels?
Who makes them and how? If not, why?
At the same time, our UX team conducted several brainstorming sessions trying to answer other questions:
How can people be sure that the kilobars packed into a specific box (in reality) are exactly the same assets that were added to the shipment unit (in the app)?
How to link a shipment unit with added assets to a box filled with kilobars before that is registered on the blockchain? In other words, how to link digital and physical processes
I created a storyboard to visualize steps during the gold refining process. This exercise brought the problem to the surface and, like Archimedes, I could say “Eureka!”
Based on the storyboard, our UX team discussed and developed a task flow. We aimed to answer questions, such as:
Will users be able to achieve their goals by performing this task?
Will they be able to do this with minimal to no friction?
The keyword for solving the problem is "In sequence"
The final step of gold bar production is stamping the serial number assigned to each gold bar in sequential order.
After that, the kilobars are packed into boxes in the same sequential order. Once packed, each box is then labeled with the sequence of serial numbers enclosed and closed.
Our solution was to duplicate the packaging and labeling process in the application:
After receiving the serial numbers from workers, an admin creates assets in the same sequence using the RGSC Admin console.
This application makes it easier for me to accept gold from logistics companies and verify authenticity before vaulting it.
Vincenzo, a vault worker
While working on the application, I was asked to improve the UI. I did not want to move too far from the existing version. Keeping in mind the design should be clear, I updated the color palette and typography to give the interface a fresh look.
Android mobile app
After launching the feature, the time-on-task was reduced by an average of 2 times when comparing the total number of gold kilobars and boxes of different capacities.
But on the way to further product development, the team faced new challenges from the customers:
What should be done in case of damaging the box?
What could replace an expensive cryptoseal?
Solution for the Supply Chain Application
Each supply chain partner uses their own terminology. To get familiar with it, I started to learn and understand the users' language. I put together all the findings and shared them with the UX team.
Visualize end-to-end user experience
As an eyewitness of the gold production run and the voice of users, the product manager gathered raw data to create a detailed contextual inquiry.
Armed with it and the existing mobile app, I went through the entire supply chain and created an experience map. It helped our UX team and engineers gain insight into customers' behavior and how they use the app at different stages of the process.
Then an operator performs the following steps in the mobile app:
Selects a box size, enters a shipment unit serial number, and clicks Create
Selects assets that should be added to a shipment unit and clicks Confirm. At this time, the app generates a shipment unit label based on the box capacity and the first asset serial number
Selects this shipment unit from the list and goes to the detail page
Finds a box with the same label and scans the cryptoseal
Before implementing this feature, we conducted an online usability test with five refinery operators by using a prototype.
The task completion rate was 100%
The average error occurrence rate was 15%. We defined 4 error opportunities. Five users made three mistakes overall