Initial Mapping of Features
"Complexity can be tamed, but it requires considerable effort to do it well. Decreasing the number of buttons and displays is not the solution. The solution is to understand the total system, to design it in a way that allows all the pieces fit nicely together, so that initial learning as well as usage are both optimal."
Arm technologies are at the heart of millions of computing devices all over the world. Alongside the intellectual property for many technologies, Arm provide a suite of tools for searching the IP catalogue, configuring components, simulating performance and building systems on chips (SoCs).
Leading the design process for Innovify and working closely with Arm, we wanted to take many of the processes that are currently done by arm customers offline or with standalone tools and bring them into a single cloud environment.
Lead Product Designer - Innovify
Vivek Rai - Delivery Manager
Zach Lasiuk - Product Manager (Arm)
September 2020 - August 2022
The challenge was to create a cohesive user experience from a number of disparate tools and processes which serve different types of users with a variety of technical understanding.
The tools themselves had to be implemented into a modern online interface using the Arm Design System. They typically had extremely specific business rules and technicalities refined over years which had to be recreated while also taking opportunities to update and improve them.
What made the process for this project unique was the degree of technical complexity and specialisation involved. This impacted not just the amount of learning required to effectively design the solution but also added difficulty to test the solutions as the audience was particularly specialised.
I worked in concert with the Arm internal design and research teams leveraging many of their design assets and research capacities. This meant my focus was more specifically on the product design elements of the project.
Specifically I looked at:
High Level User Journeys and Information Architecture: This approach helped organise and categorise the wide range of features and functionality into a consolidated structure.
Wireframe Design: We used the wireframe process much like discovery stage to draw out requirements and understand how the features might work and fit together in the end project.
Detailed Design: This often required significant rework of the wireframes as new requirements came to light during the design process. We also began working with the arm design system to utilise that in our designs as much as was possible.
Research & Data
With such an extensive “greenfield site” project most of the initial designs and wireframes were done without the backing of extensive research. However once we had created a baseline user experience we were able to begin user testing and rapidly iterating on our designs.
Monthly user testing was done in-house by Arm, initially using Invision prototypes to walk through the user experience. As the project matured and developed the testing was done using a staging site to get a more accurate experience.
The process also allowed us to verify who the target audience is for the service and refine the user personas.
Arm IP Explorer launched as a beta in March 2022 and is viewed within Arm as a cornerstone service for their customers and partners with extensive plans to continue developing further features.
This was one of the first times that Arm had partnered with an external company to design and build a project of this scale and demonstrated to the organisation that such an approach can be effective.
This was one of the most technically complex projects I’ve been involved with and required developing a very deep understanding of the system on chip design process and ecosystem in order to effectively design solutions for the problems faced.
In particular there was a tension between following conventions established in old desktop applications and updating those conventions to a novel but more modern user interface. It was a challenge to strike the right balance between the two and create solutions that were efficient and effective while remaining easy to use for experienced users.
Arm also had an established design system in place, however that had been developed to support design of the website. The patterns required for a much richer web app experience were not well supported. It was difficult work with the design system while also progressing into features which would need to be supported by future iterations of the system.