Spring 2019

Cloud Pak for Data

Create an experience that can search anything across the platform anytime, anywhere.



Cloud Pak for Data is a platform that brings together several of IBM’s existing tools into one end-to-end data science workflow. Due to the nature of the project, I won't be able to share final screens. Instead, I will give you insight into my process.

My contribution

For this project, I have led and presented market, generative, and user-testing research that enabled search between seven applications within Cloud Pak for Data. I have also wireframed and designed high-fidelity concepts that I delivered to engineers. Much of this work has been supported by two other UX designers and one researcher.


  • Sketch & Sketch Measure
  • Invision
  • Principal
  • Keynote

Understanding the marketplace

The team started with gaining domain knowledge for the project with competitive and generative research. Some of our objectives included the following:
  1. Identify how users currently access data and resources (e.g., models), and how well these methods work for them
  2. Provide a better understanding of how search fits within a workflow and a user's goal when attempting to find data or resources
  3. Identify what information about a search result helps users identify whether it will suit their needs and differentiate between results
  4. Understand how permissions fit into data search
The team conducted one hour interviews with seven professionals (some data scientists and some Chief Data Officers) who came from a range of industries.
Simultaneously, we performed competitive analysis. B2B companies, who are more direct competitors to Cloud Pak for Data, helped us understand the technology behind the product. This aided me in speaking the same language as our engineering team. We also looked at B2C companies such as Google, Facebook, and Wolfram Alpha to understand the quality experience that our users will expect when searching.
After we shared our results with our stakeholders, the team moved into creating a vision for the search initiative. This included establishing UX principles, focus personas and having a workshop to bring our stakeholders into one room for a few days to discuss the initiative needs.

Card sorting

After our initial round of research, our team started to get a better picture of what our general search experience should be. When I started to wireframe concepts, I quickly ran into this question:
What types of results can a user find and what actions can they perform on each result?
This question was a hard one to answer, as the product was less than a year old and still had new IBM services being integrated into it every quarter. To move the team forward, I suggested a card sorting exercise to get an initial mapping of these searchable results.
I interviewed several product teams that were associated with the different services being integrated into Cloud Pak for Data and drafted a list of results that may appear in the search experience. Once we had this list, we split each item into a card and showed it to our Chief Architect. He was able to group items in like categories and tell us what items we missed.
This exercise helped the content of our wireframes become more clear, and we moved forward with iterating on concepts.

Testing our concept

Once my team had two main concepts in the works, I led the user testing iniative. I drafted a research plan, with the help of my researcher, and we recruited participants to fit our target personas.
Using Invision, we prompted participants with tasks and had them guide us through each concept. At the end of the test, they were able to compare like features to give us more detailed feedback.
Our takeaways were boiled down into these three points:
  1. Speed: “Get me the answer ASAP”
  2. Actionable: “I need to do this action with the result I’ve found”
  3. Trustworthy: “Promise me the answer is relevant and reviewed”
These insights acted as our guiding light moving into the next round of prototyping.

Iterating and moving forward

We took the aspects of our search experience that were validated and improved on the aspects that didn’t resonate with our users. Once our search vision was created, we shared it with stakeholders in Offering Management, Engineering, and Design to get buy in and moved forward with scoping.
To the left (or above on mobile) are three interactions I toyed with while prototyping in Principal. Here, a user has just performed a keyword search and they are able to view a preview panel with more metadata about their result before selecting it.
As I nailed down the content that would live in these wireframes, I ended up eliminating the preview panel all together. Instead, I was able to prioritize the most important information and show it to the user on first glance.

Where we are now

Currently, the engineering team is hard at work to make our vision come true for Cloud Pak for Data.
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