Protecting IP in Australia
With Australian Patent and Trademark applications increasing by 3% in 2018 [ 1 ], the growing importance of the protection of Intellectual Property (IP) is clear in this current age of innovation. In our collaboration with IP Australia we immersed ourselves in their procedures for the filing of Patents, Trademarks, Designs and Plant-Breeders Rights. These four forms of protection safeguard creativity, ingenuity and innovation in our local enterprise, they encourage the exploration of new ideas and vital R&D that keeps us competitive as a country. IP Australia identified opportunities to improve the navigability of their online application tools and enable greater differentiation between their four types of IP protection. We were tasked with assessing the complexities in IP Australia’s existing Information Architecture (IA) and recommending a way to ease users' understanding of the processes involved in protecting their IP.
A robust and collaborative design process
In a short, but intensive, discovery process we merged results from the following methods;
- competitive analysis
- an expert review
- user journey mapping and profiling
- task analysis
- interviews, and
- usability testing (predominantly tree-testing)
We were fortunate that IP Australia proved to be a highly-engaged client. With their assistance we steeped ourselves in their workflows, conducting close to 20 short workshops across a diverse pool of staff involved with the processing of IP applications. Our collaboration resulted in a large corpus of data on the existing IA, the analysis of which lasted 2 weeks given the depth and breadth of information we collected.
Deep analysis and detailed recommendations
We merged the analysis from our own methods above with the outcomes of prior research and found that the existing online tool favoured power users and IP professionals. IP Australia needed a way to guide new and novice users of the system so that the processes seemed more sequential and less daunting, with clearer differentiation between the types of IP protection applicable to them. This formed a broad theme from among more than 100 specific recommendations we outlined in a comprehensive report upon the conclusion of the research. To address these issues we designed a navigation aid that would inform users where they were within the process of applying for IP protection of each type. In doing so we championed new users’ need for learnability, while balancing expert users’ need for efficiency, both are key priorities for establishing good usability [ 2 ] and crucial factors in complex navigation systems catering to diverging user groups.
- IP Australia’s IP Report 2019 : https://www.ipaustralia.gov.au/ip-report-2019-welcome
- Nielsen Norman Group’s article on Usability: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/usability-101-introduction-to-usability/