Designing a simple UI for a complex solution

User Experience & Usability

(alt=”Person using an application on a laptop and mobile phone”)

The challenge

Software applications often solve very complex problems for businesses and consumers and aim to fulfil specific objectives. But offering a product that solves problems is only half of the answer. If the UI is as complex as the original problem users may not be able to achieve their objective and go somewhere else.

Our client who builds software to help charities apply for financial support in the form of grants, was working on a new version of their grant management software. The previous version of the application was complex to understand and to use and the learning curve was steep, to say the least. Consequently, their share of this very specific market was under threat by their competitors.

The main issue was widely considered to be the out-of-date and unintuitive user interface which had been modified over the years with added functionality. So System Concepts were approached to review and test the existing application to understand the user journey and discover what were the main pain-points and help to write a brief for a redesign.

What we did

We conducted a workshop in order to:

  • Understand their goals and objectives for the redesign
  • Carry out an expert review of the current ‘live’ application to understand the current experience
  • Create design mock-ups to explore ideas for the UI and overall layout of the application

The resulting brief covered the following:

  • Finalise UI designs based on agreed findings and recommendations from user testing and feedback
  • Produce UX/AX Design guidelines document to include:

A modern, fresh appearance

(alt=”A screen shot of the application redesign”)The brief would focus on updating the look and feel, ensuring that it had a modern, fresh appearance to stand out within their market space. We also needed to ensure that the design would provide an intuitive experience for all users and that the tool meets WCAG 2.0 guideline requirements. We worked with a number of current users of the application from inside and outside the client’s organisation to understand their experiences and garner their ideas and wishes for the application.

The final proof of concept designs needed to showcase how the tool could provide a more modern, intuitive and engaging experience for users. The design was felt to be modern, with good use of colour. Content was felt to be clearly sectioned and the example content (charts, applications and tasks) within the design was useful. Filter options were understood, along with the global navigation items and icons within the page.

(alt=”A screen shot of the application redesign”)

During testing the design was described as ”attractive”, “clear” and “fresh”. Users liked the consistency in expanding / collapsing sections continuing through to this design and felt that they could quickly determine application status. Key calls to action were also prominent within the page, making next steps / actions clear.



Streamlined Administration

The application provides one central system which includes a full range of modules providing extensive functionality which can track and manage whatever information users need.

An easy-to-use online application portal allows you to schedule grant rounds and downloads applicant data securely and automatically into the system. Standard and Bespoke analytical reports can be produced quickly, along with the assessment and grantee monitoring.

“Future Proof” Technology

The application is designed to make it easier to keep up with the latest web technology, so that it will continue to be effective for the organisations that rely on it. The “white label” UI design means users can fully customise the look and feel of the software to their branding and easily adapt it in the future.

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