ADCAPE is cable laying cost estimator for acoustic cables and sensors. These systems are extremely costly to install because they must be installed on the bottom of the ocean floor. Therefore, our product uses AI to compute the best possible positions given slope, sediment type, etc... My job is to effectively design the workflow of setting up the estimator and walking the user through a process that allows them to ultimately optimize the routes and compare costs.
We wanted the application to feel similar to other map applications, so we took an approach that allowed the user to select a location, route the cable, estimate the cost and view the report. The first two steps require map interactions and analysis on the users behalf and that meant we had to make each step as seamless as possible.
While this project has been really fun to work on it has
really challenged my problem solving skills. One of the
fundamental concepts of UX is that if you have to explain something to the user, its too difficult! This seems to be the case with the routing portion of the initial design. However, while working with developers and exploring the limitations of leaflet maps we had to come up with a to toggle buttons on and off in order to draw boxes, make adjustments, and then activate the cable drawing tool. We decided to include a color highlighted step process to walk first time users through this interaction.
Given the limitations of the map services we were working with, extra clicking inevitable. I wanted to make sure the user had a way of knowing they had successfully completed the routing section so errors didn't occur. The "We Need More Info" modal provided a way to tell the user that there was a step they had previously missed. This avoided calculation errors with the route optimizer.
After holding several stakeholder interviews with users, we found out an important feature is being able to edit parts of the estimate while still being able to see the performance of the route. We wanted to integrate something that would allow them to change numbers but not take the user away from the workflow since the end goal was to get the estimate and a report with a full summary of the performance and cost.
ADCAPE has been awarded additional
funds to continue development of the product. Testing will be a priority moving forward in order to see how our initial designs are functioning. This project is challenging because of the complexity of how the cable system routes. I believe that with user input we can deliver cutting edge capabilities to The Navy that offers functionality that far surpasses current methods of estimating cost effective routes and cable systems.