Revamping User Experience of Internal Mobility Apps: Navigating Workday's Challenge

About replacing the functionality of a Workday App (discontinued in Workday 2023 Release 2 September 9, 2023) accessed over 1.1 million times by employees in the previous six months.

My Role

I worked as a contractor on the tail end of a three-year Workforce Experience Design project. My primary contributions were in the context of a team working on projects like contextual support modernization, and writing guidelines for the creation of new content in Workday. My main project was an independently managed contribution related to replacing the functionality of a Workday App discontinued in Workday 2023 Release 2 (September 9, 2023). The discontinued applet featured 17 very frequently accessed reports by the client’s employees — one business process accessed as few as 77 times and one accessed as many as 1.1 million times in a six-month period. 1.1 million times is a lot— we knew that (if that button was to be relocated) we’d need to move it somewhere so that the user’s cheese didn’t move.  

The Challenge 

In the context of all Workday users, we were struggling with the same challenge as every other system administrator— Workday was moving our cheese. As a matter of fact, any organization that hadn’t customized their system was probably presenting a “Career Worklet” to their users that included (out of the box) business objects like: 

refer a candidate (action)
withdraw applications (action)
my referrals (view)
my application (view)
find jobs (view)
education (view)
professional affiliations (view)
skills and experience (view)
jobs history (view)
certifications (view)
languages (view)
development items (view)
training (view)
my interests (view)
work experience (view)
achievements (view)
professional development plan (view)

The discontinuation of this feature necessitated swift adaptations for systems serving 37,000 employees and generating 1.1 million user interactions in the previous six month.

User-Centered Methods 

I used methods like contextual inquiry, stakeholder interviews, low-fidelity solution design, concept testing, and usability testing. First, we decided to run quick and informal-feeling tests with randomly sampled employees. I worked with business stakeholders to narrowly identify 17 important tasks that we’d need to relocate and created a table to track the other options users had for locating that content. I asked people to show me how they used the system when they had to do regular self-evaluation exercises like professional development plans and skills-based items.

For the sake of time, we agreed to distill 12 similar tasks down to a representative 8 items. We completed contextual inquiry with 10 users to assess their ability to locate the items we were asking them to find. If the user couldn’t locate the item within 90 seconds but did complete the task, the research coded the task yellow. If a user couldn’t complete the task within any allowable period of time), the research coded the task red.

Mixed-method contextual inquiry allowed us to observe that a great number of users (over 90%) didn’t interact with two of the Workday menus at all. In fact, when we asked users to recall things they’d previously stumbled upon 3-6 minutes prior, they were often unable to do so. I also conducted semi-structured interviews with randomly selected employees about their experiences with the Workday system in the context of these 17 essential business functions. These methods allowed me to deeply understand the user context that Workday data couldn’t fully explain.

The only thing that business-side developers could see was that the reports were being called— they didn’t fully have a “Voice of the User” in terms of how they were interacting with some of the actions hidden within the Career worklet. We found that users had (up to) four paths for each item that was being discontinued, but we didn’t have any data to indicate if the items were discoverable by users through those paths.

The research methods that we practiced on this project allowed us to present the development team with clear requirements towards a minimal, graceful solution that could be quickly implemented. 


The app we’re working on was frequently used— each employee averages twenty-seven times each year. That’s more than twice a month. We presented findings to stakeholders and made recommendations for resource allocation prioritization. We can’t put ourselves fully in the user’s shoes (because Workday doesn’t provide data about user behaviors within the experience). If each of the 1.1 million times an employee accesses the “Find Jobs report” were disturbed even by just 1 minute per time could result in a net loss of over 700 days of hourly labor. That’s incredible, right?

We ultimately accepted the roll-out of a new Workday feature we felt would automatically replace some of the previous Find Jobs functionality, but that occurred at the expense of finding ways to surface other content to the users about talent development.

The project produced recommendations to surface and discover content like [languages] and [training] items more prominently. One of the major findings of this project was that we shouldn’t try to disguise that Workday was retiring a feature just by renaming it the old name.

When we ran the same informal tests with our first solution, things actually got a little bit worse. That was because users didn’t think that some of the solutions we came up with to present some of the information they needed were as discoverable as we had anticipated. 


I produced final MVP mockups in Figma and delivered a clear checklist detailing how to implement changes that would make user paths more discoverable and retraceable by users for some of the most common HR tasks being performed at the organization (i.e. applying for a new job, referring someone else, applying for a promotion, adding credentials, etc.).

We included a second round of testing into the research that produced the argument for simplification of some of the content categories (i.e. relocating languages, certifications, etc. to the Personal Information applet). Ultimately, the business leaders in charge of this project made the decision to hold a few of the major recommended changes in the backlog because Workday (ultimately) changed the date for the degraded Career applet.

The ongoing dance with Workday continues because the business didn’t end up having to allocate immediate resources to this project since Workday flip-flopped on their discontinuation of support for the Career Worklet in the first place— pushing it off their September release calendar. Further complicating this Workday project, the business wasn’t ready to adopt another Workday feature release called CareerHub which would further impact some of this content in the company’s system.