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Learn how BMW Group turns data into insights for everyone.

Our Challenges

  • Managing Complexity

    Creating a pleasant experience for searching and processing highly technical and complex data in the Data Portal sent us on a bold mission: reducing complexity for the user without reducing accuracy.

  • A Diverse Audience

    The Data Portal has a diverse target audience – from inexperienced users to tech-savvy data scientists. We had to design and code a great experience for all of them.

  • Mind the brand!

    Instead of giving users just a faceless tool, we wanted them to feel the BMW Group brand character in every corner of the Data Portal. Thus, we had to find a way to give the data platform a brand-driven design.

  • What’s In A Name?

    Data science has its own vocabulary. In order to create common ground for both experts and beginners, we had to find a way to make technical terminology accessible to all users.

  • Controlling The Domino Effect

    Due to the high number of stakeholders and team members, missed deadlines meant high delays. This is why we had to keep an extra eye on accurate estimations and target dates.

  • A Large Team

    For the Data Portal, designers, developers, writers, and researchers from BMW Group and COBE joined forces. The project team was pretty large – and we had to take extra care to keep things efficient.

01

UX Research

Meeting the faces behind the numbers.

Qualitative Research

One of the most amazing things about the Data Portal is that it’s used by BMW Group employees around the globe. Since it was our goal to create a great experience for all of them, we needed to find out about the needs and preferences of a very large international audience. Therefore, our research team conducted remote interviews with BMW Group employees in Europe, China and the USA from different fields of expertise and levels of tech-savviness. The interviews focused on the general workflow of managing data performed by the participants. Moreover, we invited participants to take a look at the current version of the Data Portal, analyzed their understanding of the Data Portal, asked them about their general opinion on the Data Portal and their specific opinion about the potential of the Data Portal. Our results helped us to derive suggestions for improving the conception of the Data Portal as well as defining general design principles that serve as a guideline for the conceptual and aesthetic design of the Data Portal.

Two people in one room cunducting an interview
02

Brand-Driven UX Design

Bringing insights to life – and letting the brand shine.

UXi Strategy

Good news: Since we’ve worked with the BMW Group before, we already created a User ExperienceIdentity (UXi) for them. We adjusted our previous work a little bit, resulting in the core brand values Joyful, Empowering, Attentive, with the focus for the Data Portal being on the last two. Moreover, we prioritized the sub-values Reliable, Trustworthy, Transparent, Supporting, and Caring as being especially important for the Data Portal. These values gave orientation to our UX concepters and our UX/UI designers when shaping the structure and visual appearance of the platform.

Semantic map of the Dara Portal Project

Conception

The overall goal of our conception team was to create an easy-to-understand and intuitively usable web platform that works for a diverse target audience. Since for the Data Portal, this has probably been one of the most challenging and exciting projects, COBE has ever worked on. And that was fully due to the data portal’s complexity: To understand the whole system and to know what is feasible and what are possibilities was a big challenge. In addition, there was already an existing design and concept on which we needed to build on. Our secret sauce to delivering a great concept? Intense collaboration via Figma and close communication with the client. Both allowed us to answer open questions fast and efficiently and remove barriers along the way.

Wireframes of the Data Portal

UX Writing

Since the Data Portal is a professional data management platform, the terminology used is, in parts, highly technical. In order to ensure accuracy, especially for experienced data managers, we needed to stick with this terminology, while at the same time making sure that inexperienced and non-technical users were able to understand and use the platform just as well. Therefore, we paired the technical terms with clear and easy-to-understand instructions and hands-on explanations.

Mockup of the Data Portal on a laptop

Visual Design

Working on the redesign of a huge web application like the Data Portal is challenging on its own. The domain of this application is specific and technical. When working on product design, developing and maintaining a good design system is essential. For such a large-scale project, it is even more important to get it right. After trying out different tools, such as Sketch and Abstract, we have come to the conclusion that Figma works best for everyone in our team. Having figured out the perfect tool setup and having established a smart design system, our Munich and Osijek designers and developers were all ready to bring the brand-driven re-design of the Data Portal to life, and making data management not only more intuitive, but also more visually appealing.

Mockup of the Data Portal on a big screen
Various screen designs of the Data Portal
03

Agile Development

Crunching numbers for a seamless experience.

Web Development

Talking about bringing great design to life: The Data Portal is a great platform with many features and complex architecture. Turning the vision of its re-design into reality required a large team of developers (there were more than 10 of us!) working on the same codebase. Due to the large size of the code base itself, all of us needed some time to get familiar with the structure. Luckily, a lot of technologies used were already familiar to us – among them React, Material UI, Typescript and Jest /Enzyme. However, there were some technologies that were new to us, especially AWS, which marked the base of the Data Portal. Similar to our experience with Conception in this project, close collaboration with the client’s developers was key: The integration with the existing team of developers made it easier for us to get into the project. We had a dedicated developer for the first couple of days and did pair programming. We also had a warm welcome on the first Tech Sync, which is a weekly meeting for developers in our team. All of that made us pretty soon feel like a part of the team.

04

ADditional Services

Turning great into greatest: Quality Assurance.

Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance was one of the most important steps in our project, since we knew that the platform was used by many people in different countries – and they all relied on its functioning in their everyday working life. Here, interacting with the whole team while following our Quality Assurance process was absolutely crucial to manage the complexity of the product and to make sure that testing priorities were right.

One person showing screendesigns on a laptop to another person

Josef Viehhauser

Platform Lead | BMW Group

“With creating the user experience for our platform, COBE helped us to enable thousands of users at the BMW Group to leverage the power of data.”

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