UX Designer + Researcher

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Project @ a Glance


1 UX Designer, 3 Engineers, 1 QA Specialist, 1 Product Manager


8 months


As the sole designer, I wore many hats. I planned and managed all user research, and responsible for all design deliverables from user flows, wireframes, and design specs.


Reposition the organization with the tools and systems our clients expect and need to compete in the growing process improvement competitive landscape.

What is the CMMI?

Have you ever wondered how NASA can plan and prepare for a mission to Mars 20 years in the future?

They use the process improvement framework of the CMMI to ensure the quality of every piece of software built by their organizations is of the highest standard.

For over thirty years, the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) has been the process improvement methodology of choice for organizations such as NASA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and the U.S. Government.

Although the CMMI has expanded into other high-risk areas such as cybersecurity, data management, and medical device approval, the framework was falling behind more iterative software development approaches such as Agile and DevOps.

My role with the CMMI Institute

I was hired by the CMMI Institute, the organization behind the CMMI, to help lead the legacy brand through a digital transformation with the upcoming launch of CMMI V2.0.

CMMI Website in 2014: The CMMI was facing an identity crisis after being rolled out of the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University and being bought by the global organization, ISACA.

The CMMI Institute had multiple legacy systems that also needed a usability, aesthetic, and back-end overhaul. Above is an image of the SCAMPI Appraisal System home page, a system thousands of individuals around the world visit and use each week.

Users? Jobs to Be Done?

Our first priority was understanding who are our users, their needs, and their goals. I led an ad-hoc persona creation workshop where members of different internal and external teams came together to brainstorm the different users associated with the CMMI.

Workshop attendees were asked to come up with all of the current and potential users of CMMI digital properties. As a group, we determined from the larger pool, the main users our new approach would target. Additionally, we wrote out the jobs to be done for each user and their level of expertise.

Uncovering pain points

Up to this point, all of our research was internal, I had to talk to our users to truly understand their pain points when interacting with the CMMI digital properties.

I recruited and interviewed members from each identified user group. During these interviews, I learned more about these different blocks users were facing on the site and specific pain points associated with each.

With users around the world, I used Skype to conduct remote user interviews. Video allowed me to connect with users face-to-face to build trust, and allowed inerviewees to share their screen when talking through a specific pain point or show us a tool they built as a workaround.

For in-person interviews, I used customer journey map templates to take notes. This template allowed me to document pain points along time and experience vector (positive, neutral, negative.)

Research Insights

Streamlining Information

Power users had to navigate to multiple different pages to find information about bills, newsletters, policy notifications, and events. They wanted a central location where they could find all of this information.

“I want to see my bill and any upcoming classes that I’ve signed up for all in one place.”


New users struggled to navigate through the website to find information about the CMMI, how to sign up for a CMMI class, or get CMMI certified. Each of these tasks are the main ways the CMMI increases overall adoption.

“I never send my clients to the CMMI website without a direct link to the information they need. You can’t find anything on that site.”


The CMMI has over 500 different resources for users to learn more about the CMMI product suite. However, these resources were scattered across four different websites and in print and digital formats. Users couldn't remember where the different resources they needed were.

“I have 50 different bookmarks, all for CMMI resources I need but are spread across the web.”

Co-Designing a User Dashboard

i knew users wanted all important information in one central, easily accessible location, but I didn’t know what specific information they wanted to see.

In order to find out what information was most pertinent to our users, I conducted different codesign paper prototype sessions.

For these sessions, I created lo-fidelity mockups of the different widgets and a big blank dashboard UI outline on tabloid paper. I informed the participants about the different widgets, gave them time to look at each, and then asked them to place the top three widgets they would want on their dashboard on the paper dashboard in front of them.

I discovered not only the different widgets that mattered to the different user types, but also learned the ‘why,’ because I was able to ask them follow-up questions during the codesign session.

The user dashboard was the central location our users needed to access bills, see upcoming events, and save resources.

Paper prototyping to test a new way to save resources.

I knew users manually bookmarked certain resources through their web browser. However, if the CMMI ever moved a resource, their bookmark broke and lead them to a 404 page.

I designed a ‘favoriting’ feature that allowed users to save their favorite resources and locate them quickly through their user dashboard.

To test the ‘favoriting’ feature, I created a paper prototype and and tested the concept with various users. From this test, I learned users wanted to create groups or ‘folders’ of similar favorited resources.

We created a new home for all 5,000 different resources, and built-in the favoriting feature so users wouldn’t have to deal with outdated bookmarks.

Card Sorting to a new navigation

From earlier research, I knew there needed to be one, main navigation that was consistent across every page of the site. However, I still needed to find out what labels and titles to use to help new users find exactly what they were looking for.

I used a hybrid card sort to discover what names to use as the labels for each section.

I created six different tasks for the users to walk through by navigating through the site by selecting which card label sounded like it would get them to the page they were looking for.

The information I gathered from this test also helped dissolve any internal disagreements about what names should be used for top-level navigation items.

I designed a mega menu based on the top level findings we discovered from multiple rounds of navigation tree testing. This design accomodated a large number of options and revealed lower-level site pages at a glance.

Measuring Impact

The entire design and development process for the new CMMI site took 8 months. Before the site was launched, we benchmarked different usage metrics that we wanted to track.

For the eight weeks following the site launch, I created comprehensive KPI reports to share with project stakeholders about the improvements we were seeing from the redesign.

43% increase in daily active users

62% increase in users spending >15 minutes on the site.

74% decrease in customer support calls.