DirectWest

Rebuilding Mysask411 from the core

DirectWest built a legacy connecting buyers and sellers throughout the province of Saskatchewan for over 100 years. The phonebook served as a source for customers to seek out and connect with local businesses, but as times changed, DirectWest modernized its business offering with a suite of digital products and services to keep up with the global pace of technology innovation.

The Mysask411 platform anchors DirectWest’s modern approach to helping businesses in Saskatchewan be found, get chosen, connect faster and stay connected, as a single source for customers to find what they’re looking for through a comprehensive business search. But the user experience came up against digital headwinds disrupting traditional industries around the world. The web version and mobile applications faced technical debt and a dated user experience. The Mysask411 platform needed a renewed user experience, informed by users and built to last.

Case Study

Technical assessment

The web and mobile versions of the Mysask411 platform struggled to perform on modern devices and needed to be rebuilt. Speed and performance were major issues. The applications were built for first generation mobile devices. Initial upgrades to the SDKs and libraries only went so far. The front end experience needed an overhaul to cut down on workflow so that users could find businesses faster and more intuitively. One of the biggest pain points was networking, especially in rural areas, where a majority of Mysask411 users are located.

 

mobile phone lit up and showing mysask411 app home screen

Sketch drawings of the design process during the Mysask411 rebuild

Roadmap for a modern platform

Technical gaps were limiting modern features seeking to meet today’s user expectations. This led the business case for rebuilding the platform. Together, we detailed a plan for overhauling the Mysask411 mobile applications.

  1. Foundation: The first step in rebuilding the Mysask411 platform involved architecting brand new backends leveraging Swift (iOS) and Java (Android). The modern code base would enable our team to craft an experience that leverages powerful native features to enhance the user experience.
  2. Form: Using design thinking methods to engage various stakeholders within DirectWest, we were able to achieve buy-in around a single direction. An initial design sprint empowered stakeholders to collaborate on ways to improve workflow, sketch new features based on customer feedback and test scenarios. All within the first week of production.
  3. Test: It was imperative that new workflow and features be tested early to validate core assumptions and influence the final designs. Using InVision, our design team crafted a working prototype of the apps. It was taken to users, tested, and the results informed the final designs presented to DirectWest leadership.
  4. Build: With the feature set validated and finalized, our developers began building the core. Working closely with IT, who manage the robust API powering Mysask411’s business search, the apps came to life bit by bit. Intensive UAT was completed on both sides throughout the development phases.
  5. Ship: The final stages of development included comprehensive analytics and tracking to support business intelligence passed on to DirectWest customers. The apps were submitted to Apple and Google app stores and, voila, Mysask411 was reborn stronger than ever, and ready for what’s next.

 

Ready for what’s next

Now that the rebuilt Mysask411 platform has launched, DirectWest is truly positioned for long term growth. The applications and web version are tightly aligned with account syncing for managing preferences and viewing recent searches. Performance received a major upgrade and the interface has been completely redesigned. The updated platform will allow the company to grow into new areas as DirectWest builds on its 100 year legacy in Saskatchewan.

 

Key Features
  • Redesigned interface
  • Enhanced native features for maps, social sharing and location services
  • Account syncing between the web version and mobile applications for previous searches, favourites, location preferences and account details
  • Multiple business listings views
Client Testimonial
Utilizing a prototype for user testing on the most important screens of our app was very beneficial. It showed us where the features weren't as intuitive as we had assumed and helped us make the right decisions to finalize the design. Although it was a small group of testers, it created some excitement for our team when zu reported back their positive reactions and feedback - definitely a great check point before diving into development.
Chelsea Rink, Director of Marketing - Mysask411, DirectWest
What zu Thought
We had done a number of updates to the Mysask411 app in the past, but we were really excited to be able to rebuild it holistically from the ground up, with totally modern technology and a fresh user interface. This was a large, fast-paced project, and the highly collaborative relationship we have with DirectWest was key to its success.
Chelsey Schaffel, UX Lead, zu