IBM Design Challenge


Problem Space

"The biggest problems with the command line is that you don’t know how to proceed."
— G.Soni, Developer at Microsoft

How can we redesign IBM's CF-CLI to help developers know what to do next without ever leaving the terminal? 

IBM's Bluemix product is a cloud platform for building, managing, and deploying applications. The interface is beautiful, but developers feel more efficient in the command line. IBM has developed Cloud Foundry Command Line Interface (CF-CLI). How can we bring some of Bluemix's supportive features into the CLI to help developers in this key moment?


Our Design

'Cf help me' is a command that makes a simple 'help' function much more helpful. 'Cf help' returns every possible function, 'cf help me' aggregates relevant information from your current situation to return personalized recommendations that only get better with time.



Lets consider the journey of Jane, a fictional software developer for "Game Castle" using the CF-CLI for the first time.

Pain points

  1. In Jane's first experience with the CF-CLI, Jane doesn’t know the exact command lines even for pulling up the help list.

    • “Unless you know the commands, you are kind of lost." - A.Wazalwar, CS student at IU

  2. When Jane needs help, she goes to Google. Finding what she wants is possible, but it takes time… often 2-5 minutes to locate a solution or 20+ minutes for a response on a forum.

    • “It is easier to search on Google than to look at the documentation and figure it out.” - G.Soni, Developer at Microsoft

  3. After finding the appropriate command, Jane finds the help list to be too long.

    • “More explicit next steps for solving errors are too few and far between” - Anonymous, CS student at IU

Design Goals

  1. Help developers figure out what's next

  2. Offer help based on personal needs and context

  3. To offer help only when asked for

  4. Not change the CLI - the interface must remain text based, so we'll utilize tone as our vehicle for design.


How it Works

1. Upon launch, the CF-CLI lets the user know that if they should get stuck, 'cf help me' is there to help.



2. The initial time a user tries the new 'cf help me' command, it shows everything. As time passes, results get more specified.


3. But what if the list is too long? 'Cf help me find..." allows users to narrow their 'cf help me' command. Like shooting fish in a barrel. 


4. Here, the user enters 'cf help me find create new apps' The shortened list of is smart and to the point, allowing the developer to get back to coding. 


View Our Full Presentation:

Project Type

  • User Research
  • Experience Design
  • Copywriting


  • Journey Mapping
  • Interviews
  • Competitor Analysis


  • Adobe Illustrator


1 week, Fall 2014

My Role

I was the design lead on this project.