Blockchain service

Creating the UI for a secret blockchain service at IBM

Blockchain service

Starting in late 2017, I worked with offering manager Rak-Joon Choi and architect Yedendra Shrinivasan to create the UI for a currently secret blockchain service (requires IBM login). They had a full business plan, working back end and API, and a technical implementation plan. They also had a hard beta launch deadline of about 4 weeks, which spanned the winter holidays.


I immediately went to work studying the documentation, APIs, and concept to inform my initial stakeholder interviews with Rak and Yedendra. I worked with them to create several system diagrams to illustrate the flow of information and roughly what jobs and tasks the UI needed to support.

From this, we started breaking down the flow of how a user would use this system to complete tasks. We iterated on our diagram sketches, where I would translate system requirements and basic interaction requirements to low-fidelity mockups in Sketch and together we would evaluate them as expert users of the system.

After about two weeks, we had a mockup that was 80% of the way to functional completeness, while I lobbied for documentation and system changes based on our expected users’ concerns and knowledge. In the final week I worked more closely with Yedendra to close the gap between what the system would and would not do by the time the UI could be implemented. We finally settled on a medium-fidelity mockup, strung together with Invision, to aid presentations to executive stakeholders and to recruit a developer to build the service on IBM Cloud.

Not long after, we shifted our target to a more streamlined UI for selected beta clients. This prompted a UX change that, due to architectural requirements and development resources, unfortunately had to span multiple UIs, only one of which I could strongly influence.

One UI had a number of major usability and accessibility issues on its own, but all development resources were being spent elsewhere. So I rebuilt it myself to fix these issues and also simplify the code so we could style it more easily later.

Limited availability

I proceeded working with Rak to plan our business and design research as we approached the launch date so we were prepared to continuously improve the service. The next release was a limited availability launch for select customers, including internal IBM services like Food Trust, which would also integrate new features. Many concepts I had originally developed, but were deprioritized, in beta made a return here but with improvements from research since, including usability tests, observations, and interviews.

I modified some interfaces to incorporate these features in a mid-fidelity format using Sketch and Invision. I tested these with our internal users and stakeholders, like our architect Yedendra.

Public release

We are now working toward a public release, having learned much from our initial users and iterating on the way.