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Action Target

Patented user interface for advanced firearm training

Release Date May 2016

Action Target Patented UI/UX

Action Target was ready to redesign the user interfaces on their firearm range controllers and brought in Sawaya Consulting to help with the design, information architecture (IA), and user experience (UX).

The system was originally designed by engineers so bringing in a team that focuses on app design and how people use it made a huge positive impact. The UI was patented.

Client Since

October 2014

Other Projects


Range Control IA

Tradeshow Prototype

Process / Walk a Mile

Our UX process started the way it does on many projects—by walking a mile in our users shoes. For this project we visited the client’s range and several others throughout Salt Lake and Utah County. We observed range users, talked to law enforcement, and fired at a variety of targets. We ran the simulations, we used the interface, we got to the point where we really understood their business.

Please note, some of this information is confidential and has been obscured or redacted from this presentation. 

Visiting ranges throughout Utah. 

Process / Ground Work

The original system grew out of what the engineers originally put together, plus features tacked on over the years. This is what we started with:

Imagine a frustrating user interface—for instance, someone else’s microwave—now imaging using it, being frustrated, and having a loaded weapon in your hand. You can see why a user interface that is intuitive and works without much thought is important on this project.

Beyond documentation we conducted pre-interviews with key stakeholders and conducted UX tests on the original system.

The original interface…where to start?

Process / Information Architecture

Information Architecture (IA) is all of the stuff you do before design. Doing this helps you be ready when you do start laying down pixels to make sure you’ve accounted for everything that needs to go into the design. This also gives us a good opportunity to walk through things with the client and make sure everyone is on the same page.


We started with a set of persona cards to distill the customers into groups, humanizes them, and give us a shared vocabulary to discuss how to meet the needs of the user.

This is a project where it’s easy to guess what the customers might be like—and easy to completely miss who they really are. This valuable step helped drive several decisions, narrow down who we needed in our user testing, and provided a tool for several other projects the client is working on.

Action Map

To fully understand everything we needed to build we worked through the current system, photographing and documenting it. We built this into an overall action map. Unlike websites or apps it’s not possible to dig into the backend code and understand everything, so we had to rely on a front-end approach to this documentation.

Site Map

To fully understand everything we needed to build we worked through the current system, photographing and documenting it. We built this into an overall action map.

User Flows

Using the persona cards, we created a user flow to show which screens each type of customer would use and what option they would probably choose.


A set of wireframes are created so you can account for all elements on a page and work through conceptual issues.

Let’s see some design already

UX projects are different than traditional design projects—which means a new project can be weeks or months before the first design pixel is put down. UX projects are much more informed with user research, solid foundation work, and future-planning for long term success.

But seriously, let’s see some design already.

User Interface Design

When we work on UI designs we post early and often. Working iteratively with the client and using online tools so that the design is ready for review when you are.

User Testing

We tested throughout the project. The tests included not only this statistical data but also interviews about how people felt about using the system. Did they enjoy it? What did they like? Was anything frustrating?

There is nothing like watching a millennial button mash a screen that isn’t doing what they expect, or watching a boomer read everything and still hesitate to make a choice to crystallize what isn’t working.

By recording what users were doing we were able to watch not only what they did but listen as they gave feedback throughout the process. This doesn’t have to be fancy, we stood behind them and took video with our mobile phones while we talked them through the process.


Action Target’s UI was taking new users 30 to 120 seconds to complete the most basic task. Our redesign reduced that time to between 3 and 10 seconds. That’s a +90% improvement.

Bonus Shot

We were on hand in Las Vegas for the industry’s largest tradeshow, we’re talking 67,000 in one building, to debut the user interface prototype.

Here is a literal photo of going over and above for clients.

That’s Steve up on the ladder with our clients. 

Feedback from the Client

Sawaya Consulting’s UX process allowed us to bring new ideas to the table, challenging existing status quos and ultimately allowing the end user to guide us.

The UI wasn’t about what we [the Company] wanted, it was about what worked, and what didn’t.  We came out with a very user-friendly interface that is easy for a new shooter to use, but content-rich enough to keep a seasoned shooter coming back.

There were a few features we thought would be easy for users to understand, but during UX testing we found users struggled with them. By taking the time to do a UX test process we were able to weed out those issues and provide solid solutions.

The UX process we went through made us able to gear the retrievers to meet users needs instead of just redesigning what we already had.

Jesse Nelson
Product Marketing Manager, Action Target

The Action Target UI we designed is patented, with partner Amber Sawaya listed as the co-author of the patent.