The Pennsylvania State University manages a federally funded nutrition education program (SNAP-Ed) for low income Pennsylvanians called Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Tracks (TRACKS). Designed to help both children and adults live a healthier lifestyle and make better choices about what they eat, TRACKS relies on the efforts of hundreds of local partner staff to make the program a success.
After receiving positive referrals from other Infragistics Consulting Services customers, we made our decision. We didn’t feel the need to pursue any other UI companies.”
TRACKS has been making use of the same online reporting system since 2006, but recently its age began to show. The STARtracks data entry system, which converts information collected on paper into digital records, is crucial for compiling the demographic and program delivery data needed for program management and required reporting to federal funders. Deciding that the system was in need of a modernized makeover, the organizers behind STARtracks came to Infragistics Consulting Services for help. Since Infragistics tools were at the core of the original system back in 2006, a smooth transition made for an easy decision by Penn State.
“Considering that Infragistics controls were used in our old system, and that we have an existing relationship with them, we decided to explore their service options,” said Mary Montminy, the Health Informatics Analyst behind the STARtracks project.
Development of the new user interface for STARtracks was very much a collaborative effort between the team at Penn State and the UX Architects, Visual Designers, and Developers at Infragistics. The Infragistics team started the initiative by implementing the first part of their three-tier process: Discover, Design, and Develop. The discovery stage yielded a more solid understanding of project goals, users, and context of use, as well a solid review of existing requirements, legacy system shortcomings, and software architecture. From there, the team had the tools needed to address everything from the designs of the new application workflow, user interface, and augmented wireframes, to usability testing and development.
Once the initial discovery step was complete, work began on the critical design elements of the project. The Infragistics team started building the augmented wireframes with the goal of laying the framework that would allow STARtracks’ end users to navigate to key destinations within the application quickly, and in as few steps as possible. Once the concept was approved by Penn State University, a visual design was applied, giving STARtracks a modern and professional look and feel. For the project, UX professionals constructed a total of 51 different frames representing all of the navigable destinations within the program. Beyond the UX design components of the project, the technology of the legacy system also needed to be revamped. Because of the volume of data being collected, and the speed with which it was required to be input, the seven-year old system had become noticeably more sluggish.
“The old ASP.NET system they had in place was simply outdated,” said Ed Saunders, Vice President of UX Services for Infragistics. “To satisfy the need for a fast, lightweight application that would significantly improve the user experience, we knew that a full technology migration would be necessary. Having all the resources to deliver, we recommended a move to a jQuery-based program, built with Infragistics’ own Ignite UI controls.” By migrating to this new system, STARtracks would not only be lighter and faster, but would also allow users the ability to modify data on the client without needing to rely on frequent communications to the server.
The Client's Benefit
The final result was a new system that meets the ever-growing needs of the STARtracks user group, all the while making the system more practical and efficient. The successful implementation of the new STARtracks application was delivered in three phases that tested various aspects of the user experience among different groups of users. Phase 1 consisted of implementing a brand new user interface to be used exclusively by administrators. Within the group of 210 users that rely on this software, the new admin screens were successfully tested by about 20% of the user base. Phase 2 was designed to showcase new data entry screens for users with all access levels, while the final phase of implementation will be used by the users compiling reports.
User response to new interface and data entry screens has been positive, and users have commented specifically on the flexibility of new data entry screens, streamlined navigation between screens, and ability to more easily locate and edit previously entered data. The new JQuery-based system proved to significantly facilitate the workflow and provided a better user experience for all users.
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