Connected Suite Spotlight Series –
How UX Design Helped Shape the New Enterprise Supervision Workflow
This Connected Suite Spotlight Series focuses on Enterprise Supervision - notably, an interview with the user experience team about creating a best-in-class customer experience.
"User Experience, or UX, is the overarching discipline that ties all the different aspects of product design together. Disciplines such as user research, interaction design, and visual design all focus on very specific elements that together create a wholistic end-to-end experience."
Staying ahead of current software design trends and the way our customers use our technology is an ongoing focus at Smarsh. Our in-house user experience (UX) design team has been hard at work on these efforts to create positive and productive experiences with our new and improved Enterprise Supervision solution.
We asked Amanda Zhang, UX/UI Designer and Antoine Juhel, UX Lead, to answer some questions about their approach to the Enterprise Supervision application design, their creative process, and the importance of advocating for the end-user.
Antoine Juhel and Amanda Zhang, UX at Smarsh
What is the value of User Experience Design in business software?
Every interaction with business software is an experience. Whether that experience is good or bad heavily depends on whether it’s being purposefully curated. The UX team analyzes then validates all workflows in the product to ensure they meet and exceed our users’ business needs, while still providing them with a delightful experience. This is especially important because many of our users spend their entire workday using our products. Making sure they are having a good experience with our platforms is paramount.
What is the difference between UX and other design disciplines?
User Experience is the overarching discipline that ties all the different aspects of product design together. Disciplines such as user research, interaction design, and visual design all focus on very specific elements that together create a wholistic end-to-end experience. For instance, a visual designer creates the look and feel of a button, an interaction designer works on all the different states and animations of the button, while the user experience designer addresses when and where to use the button within the application, generally guided by the findings of user research.
"You have got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology."
How do you prioritize the order of features that you work on?
Feature prioritization is always a balancing act between continuing to improve existing functionality and adding new features. Every research effort we go through yields a lot of data, sometimes indirectly related to the research at hand. This means we always have a list of potential items to work on. The question we must ask ourselves is how big of an impact will these items have on the overall user experience? This is when we partner with the product management team and discuss what makes the most sense for our customers.
Can you take us through your typical process?
Our process is very iterative. We always start with research to fully understand the potential use cases we will be addressing. This involves reviewing our user personas, performing user interviews, and using analytics data to understand how users are currently using a specific feature of our product. The initial research effort informs our direction and allows us to start developing a prototype. That said, research and testing are ongoing—we are continuously learning new things about our users as we go. The initial research provides a baseline and we extrapolate from there. We continuously go back and test new design iterations with our users then the process starts over again.
"We consider the user to be our customer, so we try to represent and advocate for them throughout the development process."
How does UX most benefit Smarsh customers?
Through diligent design, our customers have fewer barriers to delivering on their compliance practices. We consider the user to be our customer, so we try to represent and advocate for them throughout the development process. We use advanced practices like usability testing to back-up our designs and ensure an objective focus when making product decisions.
You’ve been working specifically on the Enterprise Supervision product. What are some challenges you’ve encountered?
Enterprise Supervision is a primary tool for some of our larger customers, so we wanted to keep the disruptions and changes to a minimum. But we also had the responsibility to make purposeful, paradigm-shifting updates that would improve their efficiency. No matter how much something can be improved, when you use a product so much you get used to it, including all its quirks and issues. Any changes will result in some disruption in your workflow.
It’s always a balance, but as we’ve worked to update the Enterprise Supervision product, we’re confident that we’ve achieved a more efficient and enjoyable experience for our users. And they seem to agree! Early user feedback has confirmed this direction was a positive one, and they cannot wait to leverage this new experience in their supervision work.
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What research did you do before undertaking the Enterprise Supervision project?
When we first started talking about a new supervision experience for Enterprise Archive we had a lot of initial questions. Supervision can be a complex process, and before we could start talking about simplifying it, we had to understand how the application was currently built to serve customer needs. We spent a lot of time with our product managers to get a good grasp on all potential use-cases of supervision responsibilities.
As we previously talked about, having a strong understanding of our users is a critical step in the design process, so that is where we focused our attention next. The initial user interviews gave us a direction to start from which led to our first prototype. The feedback we received from our users validated this direction, but it was clear we still had more work to do.
While analyzing all the data we gathered, patterns started to emerge that informed which aspects of the new experience were working for our users. Then we took all the elements that were not working and went back to the drawing board. We went through this cycle a couple more times until we had a prototype which was testing well with users and met all our expectations.
Since that last prototype we continue to make changes to the experience, but this initial testing and evaluation phase provided us with a solid foundation we are proud of.
How do you see UX evolving at Smarsh?
Our team doubled in size just this past year, and that significantly increased the amount of user research we can do. Whether it is through interviews or usability testing, we now have multiple avenues at our disposal to ensure the experiences we deliver to our customers are rooted in data and help solve legitimate business needs.
As we keep growing our team and presence throughout Smarsh, we are looking forward to partnering with other departments, and expanding the reach of our work to some of our other products and services.
Reveal and manage risk with Enterprise Supervision.
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