Captricity’s internal user base was not robust enough to meet the demands of a growing list of enterprise customers. Partnerships became a strategic initiative so that a new external user base could take ownership of the success of new enterprise accounts.
In order for this enterprise growth strategy to be successful, I focused on addressing the following:
- For sales enablement: present high level value in the sales process, provide legitimacy and clarity with minimal effort
- For partner enablement: enable external collaborators to autonomously stand up, monitor and maintain new use cases
- For scalable feature development: provide clear pathways for future product growth to compliment and maintain organization of existing architecture
The result was an architecture overhaul - a new site map, a new navigation pattern, and new user management. All of these pieces came together most apparently via the Partner Portal, a central activity dashboard that serves as a conventional and intuitive landing page that starts off each session with the product.
As the company's sole designer, I vetted and championed the problem and owned the end to end UX of this project. I worked side by side with a scrum team containing 7 app engineers and consulted with 2 MLEs throughout the project.
The external facing UI was irrelevant to enterprise:
- Disconnected architecture made the purpose of each page within the context of the product confusing
- The full set of product features was inaccessible to non-staff
- Multiple user collaboration was unsupported
The staff-only Django Admin pages was the only pathway to access the product:
- Users needed staff-level permissions to access essential product features
- Unlearnable navigation was unreflective of the actual user flows
- Users had to rely on memory and the browser search function in order to successfully navigate to their target destination
These architecture issues created barriers to partner success. Training was documentation heavy and adoption was impossible without close support from the professional services team.
Prototypes and Testing
9 months of internal shadowing led to an external-facing process flow with full stakeholder buy-in:
- I was personally trained on all professional services tasks, including tasks unsupported by the product
- I documented the current process, creating an artifact that enabled pain points to be understood and compelling to stakeholders
- I conducted interviews, demos, and feedback sessions with sales, customers and partners
- I developed a new, customer-centric process. This artifact became the foundation for the architecture redesign
Iteration on architecture proposal and prioritizing UI overhauls:
- I socialized my proposal with engineering and professional services leadership to ensure alignment between each’s priorities
- I pinpointed weaknesses in the current partner training and prioritized product solutions that would bring more autonomy around the more difficult concepts
- I iterated on lean prototypes that recycled existing UI elements for quick evolution and implementation
- I tested designs with those familiar and unfamiliar with the existing workflow to ensure a universally viable solution
Final Designs and Resolutions
1. Site map: I introduced new entities (accounts, use cases, users) as a foundation to achieving the expected enterprise structure.
- Foundational architecture for enterprise access controls project
- Entities reflect the units enterprise customers expect for reporting and accounting
2. Navigation system: An updated top navigation flow enables use cases to be entirely managed within the external-facing UI. The staff-only Django admin pages are no longer critical to a workflow and are only needed for staff troubleshooting.
- The UI enforces the project workflow creating learnable adoption by an autonomous non-staff user base
- The first time user experience is a reflection of the value and legitimacy of the product and no longer creates more questions but acts as a visual for greater clarity
- Engineering has a clear understanding of where future features can be built out so future scaling will not threaten the user flow
3. Access controls: The creation of roles and permissions allows for users to have varying levels of access across multiple accounts and use cases.
- Non-staff admins have autonomy in managing their accounts without the need for staff oversight
- A single set of credentials will grant access to all the accounts and use cases a user is assigned to
4. Partner Portal and individual page updates: Staff-only pages are redesigned and repackaged for external use.
- The Partner Portal dashboard anchors all UX improvements by becoming the landing page for task prioritization and intuitive navigation pathways. The Partner Portal’s transparency grounds the project and makes still unresolved product weaknesses less painful because they are now contextualized and accessible.
This work increased external user autonomy from 15% to 50%.
- Professional services and partners experienced immediate positive impact from these changes which was also encouraging for our engineering team
- This initial success has yielded company-wide buy-in for prioritizing the projects queued up that will continue closing the gap on user autonomy. Previously their value was less understood
Documented processes serve as an invaluable artifact when garnering buy in for major changes:
- Established user flows are not always directly translatable to different personas
- The status quo is less difficult to critique and challenge when it’s defined
Intuitive navigation aligned with the user flow is essential to a learnable, repeatable process:
- Good UX starts at the foundation. An intuitive page has less value if it’s not correctly contextualized within the larger flow
- Anchoring enterprise SaaS architecture with a dashboard is a dramatic improvement in the overall product experience, even if that information already existed in lower hierarchy pages. Aligning with this convention helps establish trust for adoption without the need for formal training