User Experience: How Axcient Prioritizes 6 Aspects of Product Design
The solutions Managed Service Providers (MSPs) rely on for their clients need to work quickly and simply, while also being favored by developers, technicians, and engineers. User experience (UX) on a managed services platform is especially important because it’s the hub for business continuity, recovery and restore, and data protection.
You may not think UX is as important as what the actual solution can accomplish, but it’s even more important. Without a positive UX, technicians won’t be able to, or won’t want to figure out solution capabilities. Instead, wasting time frustrated and confused. In this post, we’re taking a deeper look into UX priorities and design updates to give you an idea of what a strong UX should look like.
What is user experience?
According to Nielsen Normal Group, world leaders in research-based UX, “‘User experience’ encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.” First, UX needs to easily meet the exact needs of the user. Second, UX needs to deliver a simple, enjoyable, and preferable experience. In order to achieve these objectives, companies have to work collaboratively between developers, marketers, designers, and strategic business objectives.
UX at Axcient
Axcient’s dedicated team of UX designers crafts each part of our three products – x360Recover, x360Cloud, and x360Sync, all on the unified x360 platform. With the overall goal of providing our MSP partners with solutions that are useful, easy to use, and aesthetically pleasant, the Axcient UX team has a variety of elements to consider. Since the user is number one in UX, our team goes straight to the source.
We learn what our partners want and need by meeting-on-one, conducting surveys for feedback, and applying usage and engagement data and analytics. Coupling what partners want with UX best practices, we design mockups for product managers and developers. As they’re building and optimizing Axcient products, they reference the mockups for optimal UX.
The image below is one of those mockups. You can see our note to the developers to hyperlink the text to a specific destination.
UX never stops in an agile environment
One of Axcient’s values is, be agile: prioritize, execute, evaluate, and iterate – so of course, we practice the Agile methodology. Based on the principles expressed in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, our UX team prioritizes consistent, iterative updates, over large reconstruction projects. And there is always more to do!
Axcient’s development teams are always working on the next feature, so it’s the job of UX to identify and communicate which design improvements are most important at that time. While we consider every aspect of UX to be important, we prioritize things in the following order.
#1: Intuitive workflows
The number one goal of a UX designer is to make a product easy to use. We carefully consider information hierarchy – that is what and how information is displayed – text, and visual elements. Every piece of a design should provide helpful information, and/or allow users to take action.
#2: Reduced cognitive load
Working in the channel poses unique challenges because the industry is quite varied, tech heavy, and information-dense. Trying to learn new software, or recall specific functionalities and their usage can consume a significant amount of time for users. We try to reduce time sink and frustration by speaking directly with partners before new elements are added, and after beta testers have some experience. Since they’re the users, they’re the experts. From them, the UX team can learn what critical information should be where.
Additionally, consistent icons, labels, and visual patterns let users know what to expect when they interact with Axcient products. For example. Axcient users can reliably find table action buttons on the top right of all interfaces. In the image below, I’ve highlighted those buttons on a couple different pages.
#3: Cross-product consistency
Intuitive workflows and cognitive load are analyzed within each of our three products – but users also need consistency across all Axcient products. With many partners standardizing on the x360 portal, for cost savings, profit growth, and all-in-one BDR, we need to deliver a single experience for usability. Generating a report for instance, should look and work the same way in every product, so users don’t need to relearn the feature within each individual product. Consistency also helps partners recognize when they’re working with Axcient products, versus another vendor in their stack.
The image below shows how we rebranded our interface after relaunching our products under the unified x360 platform.
Accessibility is Axcient’s opportunity to serve a variety of needs and preferences. You may think immediately of visual and hearing impairment, but accessibility can reach even further. For example, we consider people working without a mouse, due to injury or physical disability. We avoid flashy graphics and small, hard-to-read fonts to accommodate vision impairments and people on the autism spectrum. We’re always evaluating design accessibility, which may take little, or no extra effort to develop.
#5: Mobile responsiveness
A great user experience should be intuitive on any screen and across devices. We’ve seen partners use multiple monitors of various sizes, so we consider these differences during our design phase. The UX team optimizes for color, scale, text and image size, to make sure experiences with Axcient products always match. Specific use cases are also incorporated into the UX design. Things like opening an email and checking a file from a mobile device – it all needs to be available and consistent regardless of where partners are accessing their x360 portal.
#6: Fun design
Design is what sets software apart and brings joy to everyday tools. We want partners to enjoy using our products, so we continue to explore implementing elements like color palettes, personalization options, and aesthetic features like graphics and dark mode.
How can we help?
As mentioned, we put a strong emphasis on partner feedback and requests. It’s not on our list of priorities because it’s a driving force behind all of our priorities. We review and discuss each bit of partner input we get, and consider it across all products. If you’re an Axcient partner, we want to hear from you! Contribute to the evolution of our designs and products by dropping us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author:
Yuni Groff // UX & Content Manager, Axcient
Yuni Groff manages Axcient’s UX and Education & Training teams. She has been in technology for eight years, working with data analytics, marketing, and writing, before finding her passion in UX. In her free time, Yuni enjoys video games, hiking, gardening, and playing percussion in a community band.