BaseSpace UX Process

When BaseSpace went Beta at the beginning of the year we pushed out a User Interface fairly quickly to get something into our customers’ hands and let them start cranking. Now that we’ve had a few months to go back to the drawing board in earnest and work with the hundreds of MiSeq customers actively using the platform, we’ve had the time and reach to approach User Experience the right way. In the next week we’ll be releasing a completely redesigned BaseSpace based on some core design principles, and I wanted to describe the philosophy here.

With hundreds of MiSeq users plugged in to BaseSpace, and the expected legion of HiSeq users arriving later in the year, the Illumina design team underwent an evaluation of how to evolve BaseSpace for a broader range of users. We ended up refining our design process with the goal to make BaseSpace both useful and easy for biologists to use.

.BaseSpace User Experience Process

Inspired by the Lean UX methodology, we’ve used a design process focused on user research and iterative refinement. Our design decisions strike a balance between technology constraints, user research findings, and feedback from our internal bioinformaticians. We design a number of potential solutions (some brilliant, others maybe not), and we then bring several competing prototypes to real users. The goal of this process is to discover the easiest and most elegant solution that will satisfy users and the business.

One of the most exciting parts of the BaseSpace project is that our design isn’t a solitary product but an ecosystem for analysis and collaboration. The forthcoming version of BaseSpace will allow you to monitor the quality of your runs (through a web version of our widely-used Sequencing Analysis Viewer software), share projects with your collaborators, and analyze your data with a diversity of apps. We’ve made great efforts to understand what happens before, during, and after the machine is running. This holistic approach helps us to move from the user experience of a single product, to the customer experience a user has through his entire journey.

One of the techniques we’re using is customer experience mapping. By representing the user’s journey visually, we can identify touchpoints, and by measuring each experience we can begin to improve what’s not working. Of course, even though we believe BaseSpace will make your life much easier, we’re still in the discovery phase, and we’ll improve our products and your experience along the way.

As Steve Jobs famously said, “Design is not what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” The new version of BaseSpace isn’t  just a set of cosmetic changes, but numerous improvements that will have a meaningful impact on how customers work. In the coming days, we’ll have several blog posts that tease out the details of these key new features and how they tie back to the overarching design goals described above. We are taking the concepts of “useful and usable” further, and we hope to exceed our customers’ expectations by designing an experience for them that is truly delightful. This is an exciting time to be working at Illumina!

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