CKB UX Workflow & Process Flow



Cassandra Kennedy Beauty (CKB) is a Fine Art Beauty team in Portland, Oregon. The business was losing potential clients because the administrative assistant wasn’t familiar with the unique challenges of bridal beauty booking, scheduling and communications.

This caused extra work for the owner, but even working solo, it was difficult to stay organized and meet her own standards of service. On top of those challenges, she was experiencing a learning curve while working in a new CMS.


My goal was to set CKB up for the upcoming wedding season by detailing and documenting her workflow and process flow to increase her CMS's functionality, improve communications and successfully onboard future administrative assistants.
This resulted in the removal of bottlenecks and unnecessary steps that, in turn, streamlined processes from acquisition through to project completion.

My Approach

My design process walked through four main steps:
Gather information about current workflow and CMS
Identify key problem areas and potential solutions
Create a set of useful living documents
Workshop documents for greater usability

Research - Gathering information

These complications fell into four main categories:
The owner and I talked through her difficulties and concerns, and I poked around the CMS and took notes. I found that a semi-defined workflow, communication issues and CMS limitations created extra complications that were costing CKB time and money.

CMS pipeline label and stage disorganization

The CMS had a semi-customizable workflow called a "pipeline" with some built-in automations for tracking each project’s stage, but the labels and stage functions weren't memorable.

This made automatic and manual movements of projects high-stakes because some were getting lost in the shuffle.

Missing decision trees and prioritization in workflow

While the owner’s work process partially existed in her CMS, many important, nuanced steps still lived in her mind.

This knowledge gap plus a few critical junctures in the workflow meant an administrative assistant needed Cassandra’s input to move forward, but with asynchronous working hours, their assumptions were causing mistakes.

Limited CMS options for internal communication

The administrative assistant used email for questions and work reports, but there wasn't a quick, easy way for either of them to know exactly what was happening in each project at every stage.

The CMS's clunky To-Do page was tucked away behind extra clicks and was constantly flooded with unimportant tasks, so it wasn't a viable way to communicate about the urgent ones.

Sometimes this meant the ball was dropped with current and potential VIP clients.

Redundancies and missteps in external communications

In the wedding industry, client email threads can grow to of hundreds of messages over the course of a project.

Communicating with stressed-out clientele requires strategic judgment calls and a certain level of finesse, so writing emails from scratch on the owner's behalf was difficult and time-consuming for the assistant.

Synthesis - Identifying key problems & their solutions

Organizing a business workflow is similar to organizing a house: it needs to work for multiple people that think and use things differently, so creating a shared understanding of purpose and priorities was a crucial first step. This took a measure of vulnerability for CKB in showing me the messy closets and allowing me to painstakingly probe every corner, scrutinizing her mental model.

After a couple work sessions, I was able to narrow down our objectives to three main endeavors:

Organizing CMS Pipeline

Label and define each stage to eliminate confusion and keep track of projects.
Learn and implement automations to reduce admin hours.
Create alternate steps for workflow in lieu of automation limitations.

Planning CMS client communications

Create email templates specifically labeled for each stage of process to streamline communication between all parties.

Documenting workflow outside of CMS

Create a high-level business workflow that orders the interactions between CMS’s pipeline stages, automations and involved people.
Create a detailed process flow checklist for each project to avoid mistakes and unnecessary communication between owner and admin.

Design - Creating useful living documents

This is the home-organization stage called "elbows-deep in knick-knacks." It took lots of communication as we moved around, got rid of, repurposed and added things to improve the functionality of CKB's workflow.
We remodeled and defined CMS Pipeline stages
Cassandra and I talked through all the specific scenarios that can happen with a project, especially complicated situations that might move a project backward in a pipeline. We wanted a series of stages that would work for the majority of projects but still be able to handle edge cases.

Then we specified labels and defined the parameters of the stages. What are we talking about when we say a client is in this stage? What things need to happen in what order and what specifically triggers the move to the next stage?
We integrated CMS automations
We met with an automations expert to learn the capabilities of the CMS, and then adjusted the number and order of steps to meet the limitations. It also helped us plan our auto-response templates.
I created a high-level workflow
I wanted Cassandra and her admin to be able to see a project's stages from a bird's-eye-view, so I set up a Google sheet to order the basic interactions between the CMS, owner or admin, clients, and independent contractors.

I didn't include details or if-thens, but did add color coding to highlight important junctures in the project's lifespan that would require special attention to push through to the next stage.
I created a detailed work processes checklist
I used the high-level workflow to create a more detailed step-by-step checklist that can be used for each project. This included if-thens for more complicated situations, so that Cassandra and her admin could see history and circumstances that might be affecting the progress of a project.

I also specified when and how an admin needs to communicate with Cassandra throughout the project's lifespan, whether sending direct emails, texts and calls, or writing notes and To-Do tasks in the CMS.
For the time being, we chose the third option because it was the least terrible, but I hoped to find a better solution with a noticeable location and easy interactions.
During a follow-up meeting, Cassandra conveyed that she hated using Google drive and wanted everything in one workspace, so we brainstormed around how to add it to the CMS.

It seemed our only options were:
Adding it as a document file to a project-related team workspace, which has a great location, but it would be uneditable.
Placing it in the main message area so it could be edited by responding like an email thread, but then we risked having it buried beneath other messages and forgotten.
Copy/pasting the text into the editable project file notes, but the reformatting and interactive options were limited, and all notes are tucked behind a button on the side of the project page, so it might be forgotten.
We wrote templates for client communications
After mapping out the workflow, I was able to mark occasions in each stage where CKB would need both automated emails and various templates to fit different situations.
I created a document for her to reference while creating templates in the CMS, and wrote some sample copy as a jumping-off point.

Iterate - Improving usability

I checked in with Cassandra several months later and unsurprisingly, heard the checklist sitting in the project's notes section was not working for her.

I once again scoured the CMS for another option. I discovered that the customizable questionnaire templates can be pulled into a project’s workspace and stay editable if unsent to the client. This met both needs of interactiveness and visibility and additionally saved time by eliminating shifting between team and bride workspaces.

I redesigned the checklist to utilize its multi-page capability, added images and then incorporated definitions of each pipeline stage to add clarity. Now Cassandra didn't have to reference the Pipeline Stages Google doc either!

She was thrilled.
Repurposing a CMS template to house the process checklist
Designing for clients is a collaborative process in which the vision will continue to evolve. It was fun to see Cassandra iterating on the email templates' copy to achieve her personable tone of voice.
Refining copy to better fit CKB's brand

Results & Response

After several months, I checked in with Cassandra to see how the new system was working for her. She reported that she was dumping her CMS to return to her previous system which had more automation flexibility and customization features.

She said that she presented our documents to a prospective administrative assistant team, who were extremely impressed and delighted to have that mountain of work done for them.

Cassandra also shared that the process of detailing her workflow with me gave her so much clarity that later on, she was able to eliminate more steps in the flow. I was so delighted to see that all our work was continuing to pay off with time, effort and money saved for CKB.
Building on our foundation

Let's collaborate on your next project.