Applying User Experience Design to Build Successful Salesforce Communities

EJ Guren September 9, 2020

Hi Ray! Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your world of user experience design. To start, tell us a little bit about your professional background. 

I studied multimedia design and was a digital designer in Malaysia prior to relocating to NZ in 2009. My major was mostly focused on things like animations, websites, and mobile apps. I started working in creative design but over time, shifted into the more User Experience (UX) space. 

 

Ray Kuo, User Experience Design and Front End Development at Trineo
Ray Kuo, User Experience Design and Front End Development at Trineo

In my first job, I had a lot of opportunities to work with the developer teams. I got the chance to get more exposure to technology and began to learn front end development. So I ended up doing a bit of Digital and User experience design at the same company. I think that’s something we’re seeing more and more of as a combination of skills. 

I joined Trineo about 3 years ago and focus on both UX design and front end development for our Salesforce practice working with clients like Fonterra, CFS and FisherFunds to name a few. 

User Experience (UX) is a term thrown around a lot these days - as a UX/UI designer, what does it mean to you?

It’s all about solving the problem. The outcome for the designer (and team) is to create a solution or product that is meaningful and provides a good experience for the user. My focus as the UX designer is in the process of solving for the solution. A series of steps to achieve the results. 

  1. Understanding who are you creating the product for...deeply
  2. Identifying the problem
  3. Ideation generation, brainstorming multiple ideas that could solve the challenge
  4. Prototyping and building a wireframe
  5. Testing!! Lots and lots of testing! Testing with real users to determine if your solution really solves the right problem. 

We do many iterations across these steps before we hand over to the development team and before anything gets coded or built. 

For the layman out there, what is Salesforce Community Cloud? 

Community Cloud is an online social platform that enables any company to connect with partners, customers, employees...basically all the tools a business needs for engagement. And there are so many different use cases. It can be a way to provide self-service tools for communicating, a portal for data sharing and collection, answering questions, collaboration, and so on.

Communities pretty much have endless potential but the main objective is about enhancing communication and how the business engages with another party while making the process easier. 

What do you think makes our approach at Trineo so successful? 

Our people! It’s the way we work together. 

At Trineo, we have a culture of collaboration. We believe that most problems are solvable with people, and we put a lot of trust in our people to best determine how we solve problems versus forcing how we work on projects. We use our combined experience and how we like to work together as a team. 

I’d also say that everyone is pretty open-minded to doing new things and not attached to a specific solution from the start. Like I said earlier, it’s about the process to be sure we’re solving the right problems for the user.  We’ve got experience solving very tough problems with very high-quality results.  

What are some common mistakes people make when implementing communities?  

From what I’ve seen, people run into trouble because they come in with an idea that they want product ABC. The problem is they don’t take enough time to understand the user and what they really want.  A lot of businesses want something fast - but they don’t take the time to test and learn how people engage with them so they get something that’s not quite right which ends up just taking more time later to correct. 

We focus on helping businesses understand what they actually need, and what solutions/products their users want. It’s important to consider how to align both parties and how we can get the balance between the best of both. So with us, usually they come in for ABC, but they get XYZ...and it actually works. 

Tell us about one of your favourite community projects.

My very first project at Trineo was working with Community Financial Services (CFS). It was quite challenging for me because I was just a few weeks into the job and got this huge project! 

So I was responsible for the UX design of the CFS Community, a self-service portal for CFS and their channel partners. On one hand, CFS staff needed to keep track of new and existing financing projects across their dealers. On the other side, the portal needed to provide a way for car dealers to launch new financing options and products, track existing deals, communicate with CFS, access loan documents, credit checks, etc. all done with automation and connected by an API. 

Before the project, CFS was doing everything manually - printing, scanning, faxing, email etc. to communicate with partners.  For every loan, they would have to get multiple (manual) approvals, which meant lots of black holes, and long delays for clients which could result in losing deals despite having been pre-approved. 

We conducted A LOT of upfront workshopping to learn about how the business works, how they communicate with dealers, etc. and thinking about how we could improve the processes with communities. Ultimately, they needed a fully automated self-service portal that could function without intervention from the company. 

After building some prototypes and conducting many user tests on-site, we successfully demonstrated how a new product would improve workflow and reduce the manual work, seeing an 80% efficiency in the approval process. 

Today, everything lives within Salesforce and CFS enjoy a single source of truth. No more printing, no more manual processes...everything is connected, easy to navigate and simple to understand. Happy days. 

What are your top 5 tips for anyone considering building a community?

  • Understand your audience! Every business should put more focus on its customers. 
  • Understand user needs. Engage more with your audience to find out what they want from your business, not what the business wants from them. 
  • Understand your own business and what success looks like. Define what it is to be truly customer-centric. 
  • Know your limitations. Build what you can build. Do what you can do. 
  • Know how to appreciate! Your customers, your staff, the people who support your business. You’re nothing without them. 
EJ Guren

EJ Guren