VersionOne’s New UI – the Challenge of Web Apps

If you’ve been following along at home you know we just pushed out a brand new UI with our latest release. It’s been an arduous road these past few months but we are quite proud of the results. As VersionOne’s new UI guy I was brought on board for this very task and I can say I am very impressed at how the development team stepped up to the task and got it done in such a small amount of time.

Getting rid of popups helps avoid cross browser issues

Sure there are some rough spots here and there but we had to set priorities and we placed our most used and most desirable features to the forefront. From the new “Details” lightbox approach to the simplified look of the grids we have approached every area with great consideration, and even a bit of user testing.

To help you understand just what it took to get where we are today I wanted to touch on the process we used as we carefully approached each section with changes so here goes.

Step 1: We identify the strengths and weaknesses of the section in an overarching view (to assess whether the current approach is best or if this feature/item needs some re-thinking) keeping in mind that we don’t want to recreate (if needed) the feature/item in a way that would alienate current users.

Step 2: We decide on what to add, take out or leave alone (if it ain’t broke…).

Step 3: Now we assess what we can and can’t accomplish via usability, look and feel and technical (code improvements – this is of course very important for developer sanity but more importantly app performance) given a reasonable time frame and avoiding scope creep.

Step 4: We begin feeding out these ideas at first internally within our teams to assess value and traction.

Step 5: We develop the feature/page/item etc. and test, test, test!

Step 6: Now we put the feature/page/item before a set of users both internally and from clients who agreed to provide users for feedback and user testing purposes, as well as using it ourselves to see how it feels in our on process.

Step 7: We refine the feature/page/item based on feedback and experience.

Step 8: Rinse and repeat.

Simplifying the grids lets you focus on info not graphics

I think for me the toughest part of this process was letting go of some usability enhancements to make sure we had a consistent UI across the product. There just wasn’t enough time to do everything we wanted to do but it was important that every page look like it was part of the app since this was a key goal at the start. That’s not to say we didn’t get some great stuff in there we just didn’t get to do everything…just yet.

Going forward however I am seeking to improve every area following the steps above to bring you improved performance, less steps to accomplish your tasks and an app that makes you just feel good using it.

Are we finished? Not if I can help it :) Look for more great changes over the next releases and into the future.

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