At Si digital, we specialise in creating bespoke software and systems that help our clients improve their internal workflows. Our client list includes Hasbro, Co-op and Hastings Direct and we’ve helped all of these companies with bespoke applications that have either increased conversion with their end users or made internal processes more intuitive, saving them time and money.
This is all achieved through solid, UX driven practices that help inform us to create systems that not only function seamlessly, but look beautiful too.
Moving company software forwards
Typically large companies have come to accept difficult to use and often clunky internal systems. This is normally due to legacy platforms dictating how new ideas are developed providing more obstacles than solutions.
Our starting point is making all of our systems web based, this negates the need for IT to have to install applications on each employee’s computer. Basing our applications ‘in the cloud’ allows incredible flexibility across devices and locations. This is just the first hurdle that we help our clients overcome. It’s important that by producing applications in this way, that we make them as effortless to use as it is to access them.
Understanding the users’ experience
The term ‘User experience’ is broad but in relation to software applications, we want to tick a few boxes when speaking with our clients about their current issues. These include:
- Is the application easy to use?
- Does it make you more efficient?
- Do you use it every day?
At the beginning of a project, the answers to these questions are usually a resounding no and it is our mission to change this. We sit down with users of the existing applications and talk to them about the problems and frustrations they are facing. This can be via group workshops or on an individual level. Every staff member who has exposure to an internal system is likely to use it in a different way to the next or have varying needs, so it’s advantageous for us to collate all these at the beginning of a project.
User problems will normally range from technical – ‘this is broken’, ‘this is slow’ or ‘the system doesn’t do this’ – to the broader design led user experience issues, where particular flows are over complicated or there’s a more efficient way of doing something that the application just doesn’t allow. Understanding these nuances from everyday users with hours upon hours of experience using these applications, becomes invaluable to our research. We understand that a lot of this initial research can be based on individual opinion so we ensure we collect user data from analytics reports to review any standout issues.
Studying research to make improvements
Once we’ve understood the user needs, we begin the project planning phase where we asses the current system and review the site architecture and user flows to see where we can make short and longer term improvements.
Working closely with the internal teams using the platform, we are able to run ideas past them allowing a collaborative approach to the improvements. Once we and our clients are happy and all agree that the site architecture is more logical, we begin to wireframe potential layouts of all key pages.
Our wireframes help communicate improvements around hierarchy and layout without the subjectiveness of colour and design elements. We present these to our clients in the form of interactive prototypes to allow them to perform simplified tasks at a high level. These tests give us immediate indications that we’re on the right track to improving workflows that are critical to their everyday tasks.
Making systems beautiful
Blending the technical and the creative is one of the keys to our success in helping our clients become less frustrated and more efficient. When using an application on a daily basis, it’s important that employees enjoy using it and that the design language makes this experience pleasurable.
No cramming of content here.
Our designs are perfectly spaced, provide contrast and the perfect typographic hierarchy. It’s these simple considerations that turn the average experiences into great ones. It’s not just the visual appearance that we pour over. Every interaction is considered and has to stand up to the key question from earlier – ‘Is it easy to use?’. This remains one of our primary goals throughout the project life cycle.
Testing with users
We know how important it is to make improvements by iterating quickly. Getting the first release of a client’s improved software into their hands is something our developers strive towards. We want users to test and compare alongside old systems and report back any niggles. We conduct thorough test periods with our clients and a new version isn’t rolled out until everything has been accepted.
Working with us
Once a client’s new software application goes live, it’s not the end. We maintain ongoing and long term relationships and help to evolve projects over time – be it making small improvements, adding new functionality or overhauling a new system. We provide our clients with the tools to report issues and gather internal opinion to help keep their application at the leading edge. Some of our clients also want to develop systems in a phased and measured approach with various phases on the development roadmap that could span years.
Above is just a small insight into the processes that support the creation of successful bespoke software applications. If you have a system that you would like to tell us about and take a look at, we’d be excited to hear from you. Give us a call on 02393 190 260 or reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org