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Transforming DOTS into a User-Centric Bioprocess Monitoring Platform

UX research – Design & Prototype – Feature development

Company

Aquila Biolabs / SBI

Year

2021 – 2024

Role

UI / UX designer

Background

DOTS is an advanced software platform designed to enhance bioprocess efficiency through real-time data visualization and control. When I joined the team, DOTS was already in development but lacked any UX/UI design input. This resulted in a product that, while functionally robust, faced significant usability challenges. 

My task was to untangle the existing design issues, enhance the user experience, and develop new features in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team.

Challenges

  • Absence of Initial Design Framework: The product was developed without a dedicated designer, leading to inconsistencies and usability issues.

  • Complex Stakeholder Environment: The project involved collaboration with product managers, developers, lab personnel, sales teams, and high-level executives.

  • Simultaneous Refactoring and Development: We needed to fix existing issues while concurrently developing and integrating new features.

Key Contributions​

Stakeholder Communication

Objective: Ensure all stakeholder needs were addressed and aligned.

Approach: Maintained regular communication with all key stakeholders, including weekly meetings with user representatives and product managers to brainstorm and refine feature ideas.

Impact: Improved collaboration and ensured that the product met the needs of all users and stakeholders.

Comprehensive UX Analysis

Objective: Identify and address all areas for improvement.

Approach: Conducted an in-depth UX analysis at the beginning of my tenure, involving meetings with all team members. Recorded and analyzed these meetings to identify pain points and opportunities for improvement, which were then presented to the VP for strategic planning.

Impact: Provided a clear roadmap for UX enhancements, aligning the team on priorities and future steps.

User Research and Testing

Objective: Ground design decisions in real user feedback and data.

Approach: Conducted extensive user research directly in the lab with real users, including both online and live studies. Organized and executed numerous user testing sessions to validate design choices and gather actionable feedback.

Impact: Deepened understanding of user needs and behaviors, leading to more user-centric design solutions and higher user satisfaction.

Card sorting activity

Feature Development and learning Workshops

Objective: Foster collaboration and innovation.

Approach: Conducted workshops with developers to explore new tools, methodologies, and approaches for better collaboration. Conducted weekly meetings with user representatives and product managers to discuss and ideate new features and updates of existing ones.

Impact: Strengthened team collaboration, introduced new efficiencies in the design-development workflow, and generated innovative feature concepts.

Developing a Design System

Objective: Establish a consistent visual and interaction language.

Approach: Created a comprehensive design system based on Material Design principles. This ensured a cohesive look and feel across the platform and facilitated easier development and scalability.

Impact: Streamlined the design process, reduced development time, and improved user experience consistency.

Rapid Prototyping and Testing

Objective: Quickly validate design concepts.

Approach: Created wireframes for quick idea validation and developed interactive prototypes for thorough testing.

Impact: Accelerated the design validation process, allowing for rapid iterations based on user feedback and ensuring that new features were user-friendly and effective.

Results

Enhanced User Experience: The implementation of a cohesive design system and user-centric design improvements significantly improved the overall usability of DOTS.

Streamlined Collaboration: Regular workshops and meetings fostered better communication and collaboration among all team members.

Innovation and Efficiency: The continuous cycle of prototyping, testing, and iteration led to the successful development and integration of new features that met user needs and enhanced the platform’s capabilities.

Impact

The DOTS Software has set a new standard in bioprocess monitoring, offering a user-friendly yet powerful platform that integrates multiple bioprocess instruments. Although the project is still in progress, the initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, highlighting significant improvements in operational efficiency and ease of use. However, there’s much more to come, and the foundations laid so far promise a bright future for DOTS.

By addressing the complexities of bioprocessing with an intuitive and scalable solution, Aquila Biolabs has significantly enhanced its product offerings, positioning itself as a leader in the biotechnology industry.

Conclusion​

Working on DOTS was a complex but rewarding experience. By integrating UX/UI principles and fostering strong stakeholder collaboration, we transformed DOTS into a more intuitive and effective bioprocess monitoring platform. This case study not only highlights my technical skills but also demonstrates my ability to lead design efforts in a multidisciplinary environment, ensuring that all voices are heard and the final product truly serves its users.

Legacy of Impact

The DOTS Software project at Aquila Biolabs has significantly advanced bioprocess monitoring. The intuitive, scalable UI has streamlined data visualization and control, making complex bioprocesses more manageable for laboratory technicians. This innovation has led to enhanced operational efficiency and a higher standard of bioprocess monitoring. The project’s success reflects a user-centered design approach, fostering collaboration and scientific progress. As the software continues to evolve, it promises to further solidify Aquila Biolabs’ position as a leader in biotechnology solutions.

Acknowledgments

I want to extend my deepest gratitude to the entire Aquila Biolabs team. Working together on the DOTS software project was truly an honor. Each team member brought exceptional talent and dedication, making our collaboration both productive and enjoyable. Special thanks to the lab technicians, project managers, and the amazing software development team. Your insights, hard work, and commitment to excellence were instrumental in our success. Although our journey was cut short, I am incredibly proud of what we achieved together. Thank you for making this project an unforgettable experience.

"Dunja introduced a complete design system for our new software product which took the user experience to the next level. She is working independently and collects the required input from different departments on her own. Can only recommend her, especially for software in the life science industry. "
David Frank
VP of Development & Production

Full recommendation available here