You hear us say it often and we’ll emphasize it again proudly: We gauge our success by the success of our customers…and their customers.

Paramount to achieving that objective is listening to our customers. Which is exactly what we did when it came to delivering our new and improved signing experience.

I sat down with my colleagues on the User Experience Research and Design team to discover all the details:

What particular factors inspired the new design?

Sean McLeary (Sr. Director of User Experience): We wanted the experience to be intuitive and approachable for people who’ve never used DocuSign before. Signing with DocuSign should always be easier than signing on paper and shouldn’t raise any questions for signers. Sure, they may have questions about the document itself but we didn’t want the user interface (UI) to add additional layers of complexity. Our job is to facilitate an agreement and a workflow, and the UI needs to be a guide in completing that process.

Jane Meyers (Sr. Interaction Designer): As part of making it better, we conducted user testing with the previous signing experience in order to pinpoint the bottlenecks and resolve any issues we found.

Aviva Rosenstein (User Experience Research Manager): We knew from our own data and through feedback from our customers that we could make the signing experience even easier to use. By bringing in people who had never used DocuSign before into our research labs, we could follow them through their first DocuSign signing experience so we could see exactly where they had difficulties. 

Sean McLeary: We talked to both customers – people who pay us for our product – as well as our customers’ customers. We wanted to make sure we’re providing the best service to our customers by making it easy for their customers to do business with them.

How is customer research conducted?

Aviva Rosenstein: Primarily, we conducted usability studies where we asked people to think out loud as they completed specific signing tasks. We wanted to understand what they were thinking, doing, and feeling at each step of the process.

Often we did this using a screen-sharing platform, allowing the participant to work in their home or work environment, using their own computer. The study moderator can give them control of the prototype and see exactly what they’re doing as they navigate through the DocuSign signing experience. Members of the product team tune in to watch the sessions so they can see every step the user takes through the interface.

Sean McLeary: There were tests focused on evaluating the existing classic experience as well as studies aimed at exploring new design concepts. For the new experience, we conducted Rapid Iterative Testing and Evaluation studies, also known as RITE, where we would evaluate prototypes of potential new signing experiences to see how users reacted. Based on those reactions, we’d iterate on the prototype and then validate those iterations with additional users. This let us rapidly evolve the experience based on our observations of what actually worked well with end users.

Finally, we conducted usability evaluations on the new signing experience throughout the development process.

Aviva Rosenstein: All these sessions, whether remote or in person, were one-on-one sessions between the moderator and the study participant, where we asked them to demonstrate how they would use our system or a prototype to sign a document while we watched and observed, and afterwards would debrief them on the experience. It was a very hands-on experience for the testers.

What key challenges does the new design solve

Sean McLeary: Clarifying how to get started, orienting yourself with the signing tasks at hand with clear contextual prompts, and knowing when you have finished the signing process. For example, this was one opportunity that was apparent during testing: People were unclear when they were done signing. Now we’ve made that crystal clear – it literally says, “Done!” with a Finish button. So overall, we’re tailoring the new user experience to be even more intuitive so you instantly know what to do the moment you receive something to sign.

What key IT/ Tech trends are influencing UX designs alongside customer feedback?

Sean McLeary: Mobility and locality are very interesting to us. The signing experience ultimately needs to be super portable, super flexible, and super intuitive. This means it has to work well on mobile devices, integrated into partner and customer platforms, and for a variety of languages and localized needs. As we continue to grow internationally, we’ll be tackling a whole slew of opportunities with the way people do business and relate to e-business across borders.

Thanks UX team! Please always share your thoughts and feedback with us in the comments below.

To learn more about the New and Improved Signing Experience for the DocuSign Winter ’15 Release, check out Matt Malden’s blog article