The Brooklyn Navy Yard (BNY) was collaborating with the Industry and Technology Assistance Corporation (ITAC) to create an intranet for all the companies (330+) residing on BNY property. It would allow the companies to exchange and/or sell industrial supplies that would otherwise be trashed.
The initiative was in response to an effort by New York City to reduce the manufacturer’s waste stream.
ITAC identified that the manufacturer’s waste (ex.: leather by-products or palettes) might be necessary materials for another company. Selling internally would not only help waste reduction, but help companies to lower their production cost (reduced material cost).
Since this was a government initiative and based on a grant, the exchange platform could not be for profit, sponsored by a third party or found on search engines. User accounts had to be created via the current tenant database.
There were several challenges that involved technology, long-term maintenance and finances.
On the technical front, the intranet could not be built on the current BNY CMS, but it needed to either access or download the current tenant database for user access.
Since no maintenance budget had been secured, the selected platform needed to be easy for third-party and in-house BNY developers to manage.
The biggest challenge was the limited budget for UX, UI and development.
To meet all the requirements, our team suggested using WordPress (WP) and built it similar to the Craigslist model. We built current features and included as-needed new functions. The link to access the intranet would only be distributed to current tenants.
User Accounts and Permission Settings
Could view the seller info, follow and unfollow items, see related products, and contact the seller via a private email.
An RU also could post items to the classified section, add photos, add contact information and tag related items that might be for sale as well.
The Wanted Posting was another RU feature that allowed a BNY user to post requests for specific items within a price range.
The posting was not only visible on the intranet, but emailed to all the BNY network companies within the same industry.
Would be able to view and filter all for Sale Postings, but had no access to contact the seller directly.
A UU could request a login and password in the event that an administrator did not add him or her by default.
Would have privileges to add/remove user accounts, modify (add, delete, edit) company directory information, and delete postings.
By default, postings would be valid for 30 days unless they were classified by RUs as permanent.
Because of the rapid number of growing mobile users in 2010, we suggested building a mobile, optimized site. However, the limited budget and the tight deadline did not permit development of a unique mobile site.
To limit the design and UX scopes, the UI was designed to match the current live BNY website in page layout, fonts and colors. No new style guides or creative concepting was initiated to avoid a costly and lengthy approval process.
Craigslist is not an optimal UX experience, but the interaction patterns are very familiar to common users due to Craigslist’s popularity. The UU and RU functions were modelled after the popular platform, which lowered the entry barrier and optimized, when possible, a more well-defined interaction path between page elements and CTAs. Admin functions were left to WP CMS default layouts to avoid additional development time and cost.
Handing the Intranet Over
The client and ITAC approved the UI (Photoshop files) with only minor revisions.
The development was outsourced with a Russian development company and managed via Skype and basecamp. After two to three weeks of development time, Q&A by project management, UX and the development team, the source files were transferred to the BNY internal team for deployment.
Testimonial from Matthew Goodman, ITAC
Listen to his post-interview starting at 1:30min for the BNY project.