Project Design Lead
- Web Application
2019 - 2020
Contentstack develops cloud-based content management system intended to power omnichannel content.
Contentstack is an enterprise, headless CMS, with clients including Airbnb, Shell, McDonalds, Chase, Cisco, and more. While the backend functionality for storing, sorting, searching, and serving information worked well, the user experience of the Contentstack web application was lacking in several areas. I was contacted by Rose Digital - a digital agency that was working with Contentstack, conducting user research interviews - in late 2019 to help improve the UX and UI of the web application.
When examining the experience that existed when I joined the project, there was a lot of room for improvement. The interface had an inconsistent visual hierarchy, scattered user flows, confusing usage of color, and didn't utilize available screen space efficiently. All of these factors contributed to making the experience un-necessarily complex. Users had the same sentiments. One user who Rose Digital interviewed stated that, "It definitely looks like a tool you would use at work. It’s lacking some elegance".
After reviewing the user and market research, it was decided that the updated UX would focus on the following:
Existing Areas to Improve
New Areas to Add
- Bulk Actions
- Data Points
- References & Nested References
Here’s an example of a poorly designed interface. You don’t get any details about the assets.
on previous Contentstack UI
I started the redesign with mid-fidelity wireframes. Low-fidelity wireframes certainly have their place in the product design process, but when a client either has already worked with product designers, and/or has a focused vision of what they wish the redesign to include, I've found that mid-fidelity wireframes are a suitable starting point.
The first series of wireframes featured the concept of dividing up sections of the application into "Create", "Organize", and "Publish". The concept was to simplify the CMS experience. This approach was particularly aimed at content managers, who had reported that using the exisiting UI was difficult as it required intervention by engineers. This concept meant that different roles could focus on different tabs within the application, creating a centralized "hub" of sorts.
While the simplicity was appreciated by some of the Contentstack team, this approach was ultimately not deemed sufficient enough to accommodate the various tasks that most users required of the application.
The client wanted to see how a new customer experience might feel, so I mocked up a series of wireframes demonstrating an onboarding flow.
The third series of wireframes explored the concept of restructuring the navigation of the exisiting application to better accommodate user workflows. This idea built upon some of the positive attributes that the current application had - notably a structure that was clearly divided up into certain pages. When working on this concept, the redesigned navigation would allow for a better understanding by users where functionality was located, as well as provide for a UI element that could be expanded to show additional information, and hidden when power users needed more screen real estate to complete tasks.
Once the general concepts had been established in the wireframes and approved by the client, it was time to refine the concepts into the final UI.
The new UI is a game changer for enterprise software, bringing simplicity and elegance to content management. The focus on productivity means a streamlined editing experience with more space for content, fewer clicks in the editorial process and faster discovery of content.
A mentor once told me, "design work be presented like a meal at a Michelin Star restaurant - think of the small portions on an oversized plate and the impact that has on the feeling of the dish presented." That idea has stuck with me over the years, and I strive to present the final product design work in a way that is impactful, highlighting the work while not showing too much in any one image.