I designed workflow automation features for Screendoor, which helps governments and nonprofits create online forms and review responses as a team. We collectively branded these features as “shortcuts.”

We originally decided to build this feature in response to customer demand, but after we interviewed users of competing tools, we discovered a huge usability issue in the automation space that we wanted to avoid. People would often set up incorrect triggers and actions by mistake, leading to catastrophic errors magnified by the scale of the action’s effects. When they were made aware that something was wrong, the UI of most automation tools made it difficult to diagnose the problem and fix it quickly.

Our team had initially assumed this would be a relatively straightforward project, but these findings made us readjust our goals accordingly. Thankfully, one of the first things I did after joining DOBT was to bring Intercom’s four layers of design into our process. Among other benefits, the four layers provide a framework for discussion that separates design goals from the merits of a solution. When our discovery process uncovered the insights mentioned above, this framework proved invaluable for getting stakeholders on board and adjusting their expectations as our desired outcomes changed.

After creating some prototypes in Sketch and Principle to provide common ground for discussing project scope, I started iterating in code with our lead engineer. I refined copywriting, micro-interactions and animations with Sass and basic CoffeeScript. I also conducted multiple rounds of design QA until we had something suitable to ship.


Editing shortcuts in Screendoor.

Screendoor exposes an audit trail of automated actions, and allows you to undo them or view the original trigger behind them.

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