Simplicity From Complexity: One interface to serve multiple products

outcomes:
  • Customization of the product suite for diverse corporate clients and varying usage patterns.
  • Improved the rate of up-selling by making it easier for existing customers to use new products.
  • 30% speed improvement in the most common user tasks
challenges:
  • The platform can’t easily be divided along product lines, because many functions are common to more than one product
  • Many customer administrators personally engage with more than one product in the course of their daily activity
solution: We sell multiple products that all operate on the same underlying platform with the same customer data set. The existing approach was “tool-focused”: a tool for creating webcast, another for creating self-study content, a third for tracking compliance. The tools were inconsistent in their workflows, terminology, and interaction patterns.
I replaced the tool-based approach with a concept-based approach grounded in real-world concepts: users, programs, content catalogs, and universities. Organizing the common platform into “hubs” that serviced these basic objects allowed users to visualize the entire system more easily, and understand what they were doing more clearly, and predict where to go to perform an unfamiliar task. Functionality tied to different “products” (i.e. purchased capabilities) appears as tasks under these consistent hubs. Up-selling customers to an additional product results in additional tasks located in familiar, predictable locations.
I also provided a dashboard which is configurable on a per-user basis. Each admin user can pin their most often-used activities to the dashboard so they are accessible all in one place. I identified the most time-consuming, repetitive  tasks these users face:
  • looking up an end user’s account
  • looking up a particular program
By automatically listing recent users and recent programs on the dashboard, I reduced the time users spend in these tasks by about 30%.