CPDF management tool
Paid internship, Pitney Bowes, 2008
I was working with the Advanced Concepts and Technology group at Pitney Bowes. I conducted user research and prototyping to help the technical team explore potential uses of a new XML language intended to be used by postal services. I began with interviews to determine who would be using this new technology and what the system requirements were. After this, I determined which information would be necessary in the system, and held card sorting sessions to determine how potential users organized the information in their own minds. I created several paper prototypes, tested them with potential users, then built a medium-fidelity interactive prototype and tested it with potential users.
Key skills used
- Persona creation
- Requirements definition
- Card sorting
- Information architecture
- Paper prototyping
- Interactive prototyping
- Qualitative user studies
Problem overview (from internship report)
The Future Mailstream Technology (FMT) team is working on creating an ecosystem for electronic communication between postal carriers, mailers, equipment manufacturers, the equipment itself, and other parties based on open standards and open source applications. This ecosystem is called OpenMail.
One aspect of OpenMail is allowing carriers to define their postal products in an electronic format. The mechanism for creating these product definitions is currently being implemented as an XML based data modeling language called Extensible Postal Product Modeling Language, or EPPML. An EPPML document can contain a full description of a postal product including physical characteristics of allowable mail pieces (dimensions, weights, etc), allowable content, procedures for introducing the mail item into the mail stream (post office drop off, pick up at a business, etc), and descriptions of how the service will work (time in transit, conditions in transit, what will happen if the package breaks, etc).
An instance of the EPPML schema that describes a postal product is called a Carrier Product Definition File, or CPDF. Since EPPML is a computer modeling language, the CPDF documents that it produces are very precise, and their meaning is clear to any computer or person who understands the details of the EPPML language. However, for people without technical expertise and training in EPPML, the documents will be completely indecipherable.
It is expected that the people working for a postal carrier who are responsible for defining the carrier's products will be very knowledgeable about postal products, but will perhaps have limited technical expertise, and will have no desire or means to understand the EPPML schema. It is therefore necessary to create a software system that will translate between a human's knowledge of a postal product and EPPML.
Initial sketches used in paper prototype studies
Wireframes of tool design
Screenshot of interactive prototype