Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR)

The Informatics department of Novartis' global research organization matches the innovative spirit driving drug discovery and operates like a startup incubator: application ideas are pitched, successful ones receive funding and guidance from business analysts and the UX team, and if the projects perform as expected, they continue to get developed. It is the perfect environment for Lean UX research and design methods.

My deliverables are under NDA, but when I get assigned to a project, my role is to ensure that we stick to a user-centric design approach. I set up user research groups and meet with users one-on-one to discuss their pain points and what would help them work better, then translate this into requirements for the first phase of work.

From the requirements, I get ideas for how to design the product and create clickable wireframes. I go over these with the developers so that they can get a better sense of the direction we're heading and can weigh in on problematic features right away. Then, I share them with the project team to ensure that we're headed in the right direction and have the correct architecture in place.

We test these wireframes with users, just to validate our application concepts. When all is good, we move onto mockups and apply the branded colors and styling to the application. The developers finish their prototype and we can start doing real usability testing with the prototype, revising things along the way. It's a very iterative approach and it's yielded great results.

Enterprise software can be a headache, but this agile method ensures that everyone's happy: developers don't have huge last minute changes and our scientific researchers get a product that seems to think the way they do, which helps them spend more time discovering treatments and less time learning how to use the software.