In June we launched the Summer Release ’15 of the Intronis ECHOplatform. This release was the first step in our initiative to drive new levels of clarity and effectiveness into the Intronis ECHOplatform, incorporating feedback from Intronis Partners about the features they find most useful and those they’re looking for in our management portal.
In the release, we introduced a radical redesign of the Intronis ECHOplatform’s dashboard. The crisp, new layout reveals more detailed information on what backups are working and what backups need attention. With this information easily accessible on the dashboard, partners are able to save time managing their customers’ backups, which improves their efficiency and frees up more opportunities to focus on growing their businesses.
To truly understand the new look, we asked Intronis User-Experience Designer Chris Fisk to give us the inside scoop on the design, what went into creating the new dashboard, and what experiences and feedback the team drew on to bring the new dashboard to life.
Q: What design inspiration did you draw from while working on the dashboard redesign?
Inspiration for the design we’re presenting to our Partners can’t be attributed to one specific thing. We needed a means to present data for quick reference without over-complicating anything. Taking a page from anti-virus software, data recovery tools, and even diagnostics tools, we started looking into visual presentations that were informative yet visually uncomplicated. The result was our decision to use "doughnut charts.”
Q: They do look like doughnuts! We know you have experience in video game design. What lessons did you bring to this project from that experience?
The targeted demographics of video gamers and IT resellers are quite different, but there are elements that can be carried over from one to the other.
For example, gamers (especially in the freemium markets) must instantly know how to use your product. They’re using it for entertainment purposes, and if they can’t understand how a system works without enduring a lengthy tutorial (or, worse – reading a manual), they’re not entertained—and you lose them as customers.
In IT, our solutions are essentially that spare tire and wheel-jack kept in a car’s trunk. This means users aren’t using your product for entertainment — they’re using it because they need something reliable in a pinch. Users shouldn’t be mired in overly convoluted steps to address a problem. They need all the information and actionable items immediately at their disposal.
Although IT users tend to be more forgiving when it comes to wading through a visually unappealing or esoteric interface, the goal remains the same: Provide an intuitive interface that accommodates the users’ needs.
Q: While you were looking to create an intuitive interface, the process for making that happen is often less straightforward. What was the most challenging aspect of the design process?
The biggest challenge has been finding that perfect alignment that pleases most of the people most of the time. As we adapt the interface to accommodate some, we often find the interface isn’t as accommodating to others. This means we’re in a constant tug-of-war to find that optimal balance in both flow and interface design.
What is perfectly functional to some blinds others with an intimidating wall of options. What comes off as visually appealing and intuitive for some is gaudy and a waste of space for others. It goes on and on. We continue to receive feedback from both newer and older partners to massage the design into that sweet spot that keeps the user experience balanced.
Q: What did you learn from the process? What were the key takeaways?
One of the lessons I learned from the onset is the difference between videogame feedback versus the feedback from IT professionals. Gamers are a vocal group and aren’t shy with providing some very colorful and inflammatory feedback. It became a game within itself to decipher the valuable information from some angry gamer’s tirade on a forum or observed play session. We have a much more civil and reserved feedback system here, but it’s slightly more challenging to make sure we receive a larger sample of feedback.
In freemium mobile game development, we observed our daily KPIs’ rise and fall to determine the success or failure of designs. In IT, we’re not afforded that kind of rapid indication because UX feedback tends to trickle in a bit slower. This is why I’ve become more proactive in reaching out to our partners to obtain as much feedback as possible. The more feedback we have, the better our product becomes.
Q: What is your favorite part of the new dashboard?
My favorite part of the new dashboard is how there is no longer a need to continually “set up” the page to conform to the filtering and arrangements of each user’s preferences. It’s all remembered for future use! Couple that with a quick and intuitive way to immediately know the status of all accounts, and it becomes an easy-to-use dashboard that provides a depth of information at a glance without visually overwhelming users.
Q: How are you hoping the dashboard will help partners?
Our three pillars for the dashboard design are: Improve backup status communication, reduce setup time (to accommodate user preferences), and present actionable elements without a need to wade through obsolete information. By tackling those three points, we believe users are better able to diagnose their backups quickly and access the backups that need their attention.
Q: Do you have anything else you’d like to share about the design experience?
A common question asked of designers is “When do you know you’re finished designing something?” The answer is: “When the customer says so.” What this means is that no design is static, and it will continually evolve to improve. No one can design in a microcosm, so the designs we make require constant feedback from our users to be their best.
We look forward to hearing more feedback and continuing to introduce more design improvements in our upcoming releases. Intronis partners can always leave feedback in our user voice forum within the management portal. Or you can share your insights by contacting email@example.com. We are rolling out the new dashboard in phases and Intronis partners can expect to see it live in their management portal by the end of this month.