UX Case Study: RRD Optimizer Design Sprint

Design sprint in action

My Role: I lead this project, working closely with a UX designer

Project Duration: 10 days

The challenge RR Donnelley tasked us with the challenge of improving optimizer, a legacy application. Optimizer is an application that calculates the optimal sorting order for mass mailings and postage rates along factory floor production lines for their Co-Mailing process. The application was in use for many years and end-users had grown accustomed to the many pain-points and inefficiencies caused by manual inputs and unnecessary steps. From beginning to end, a typical run of the application took between 1 and 2 hours to complete.

The idea was to gather the product team into a room without any distractions, which meant no email, no mobile phones, no calls, or interruptions from other meetings so that we could completely focus on solving a redesign of the product.

A UX Approach


orinal optimizer application
The original Optimizer application.

We begin with an understanding phase. I and another designer visited actual users in the normal setting (the office) and observed them using the product. They walked us through their normal daily tasks and described what they might do in some exceptions when presented with non-normal tasks. We listened and took notes. Then we asked questions to take a deeper dive into understanding why did some things and not others. From this observation session, we formed our problem space and identified pain points and high points. We took our learnings back to the product team.



Optimizer process flow diagram
  • We observed the current user workflow and recorded user actions as they worked through tasks
  • We ask questions to discover and document pain-points and work-around solutions
  • We created a user-journey flow

Prototype & Test

Next, we created "how might we’s" for us to solve. Then brainstormed on possible solutions for each of this with the single goal of improving our user's life by providing solutions to address pain points without removing their high points. Through an iterative process of rapid prototyping, we found solutions. Prototypes evolved from rough sketches on a whiteboard to eventual interactive designs that we could put in front of our users for validation.

UX Findings

  • Manual fact checking against complex excel spreadsheets
  • Manual data entry of potentially hundreds of line items
  • Users are working against an inconsistent timeout clock –for no apparent reason
  • Users are unaware if optimization is in process and/or completed. As a result, they are constantly checking with other departments to verify
  • UI elements are obstacles to productivity

UX Solutions

  • Start from a “dashboard screen” to get immediate results and progress
  • Remove unnecessary steps
  • Automate as many manual steps as possible
  • Create a flow for simple/quick majority runs
  • Allow for custom configuration
Optimizer wiresframes


Redesigned Optimizer

The Final Product

Our final UI wires and prototypes stayed true to RRD brand guidelines. More importantly, we provided user-centered solutions to address pain points by replacing manual inputs with automated tasks and configurable error-checking. In addition, we removed all redundant and unnecessary tasks and simplified the entire process into a three-step approach of uploading data, system checks/overrides, and start. Our “home page” is a user-friendly dashboard for simple and quick check of current and completed tasks

The UX Impact

Our proposed redesign and build was the result of conversations with business stakeholders and end-users, usability testing and validation. We resolved major pain-points like manual fact-checking and data entry, the timeout clock system, and unresponsive tasks that caused confusion and wasted time. Today, a typical run of the application is down to about 15 minutes.