As simple as possible

When I was at MIT, I studied aerospace engineering. One of my classes, called “Human Factors,” focused on how designs for spacecraft and airplanes need to keep human operators in mind. To the average person, I know the airplane cockpit picture below can look pretty scary. Plus, it takes a long time to train a pilot. When we build our employee app, Sitrion ONE, we know that people don’t have much time to learn how to use new tools, especially on mobile. And so we focus on making the tools and the greater user experience (UX) as simple as possible.

Your employee app shouldn't look this scary
Striking a balance

When you build software, you have to know how it works. This makes it really easy to say, “Let’s put in a setting for that,” every time you have a new use case. The problem is that a new user doesn’t know everything about the software like the designer. If you keep putting in settings, the new user sees something like this aircraft cockpit above. There is a ton of things to look at, and it’s not always obvious what you should do first.

The other side of this story is that, more often than not, situations are complex. The airplane cockpit above has all those buttons and dials because they all have potential use for some specific situation. If you take away one of those buttons or dials, some pilot is going to be unhappy when they’re unable to carry out its function. 

An IComms scenario

Designing Sitrion ONE’s authoring screen for internal communications has been a story of continuously balancing simplicity and power.

Sitrion ONE's authoring screen for IComms

One of the biggest advantages in this situation is that the user is trying to do a specific kind of task when she is working on this screen. When a communications professional is sending a message, it’s best to lay out the choices from top to bottom to create a simple process flow:

  • In the top-left column, a user first selects which channel to send the message through. 
  • Then the user fills in the headline and message body text, with simple choices for formatting and attaching an image or documents.
  • As the communications person is making these choices, she can preview the message on the right-hand side of the screen, so she can see what the audience will see.
  • At the end of the process, the user can choose the target audience from a list of pre-defined groups and either send the message now or schedule it for later.
  • These targeting choices, along with the subsequent user reactions, then go into reports for later analysis.

Of course, Sitrion ONE has many capabilities, so there are more options on the right-hand side to choose from. A user can choose to send a push notification with the message or allow users to re-broadcast the message to a social network with simple checkboxes. However, these aren’t required for sending a message, so we keep these choices separate to declutter the process.

Personalizing the approach

Sitrion is fortunate to have such great UX people on our team who care passionately about the user experience. They even build functioning models and ask strangers in cafes to try them out.

The last big advantage at Sitrion is our ability to learn and adapt to make the experience better. Unlike an airplane that you can’t change once it has been shipped, Sitrion ONE can continue to evolve as customers give us feedback. Even as we add new capabilities, our goal is always to keep it as simple as possible.

Find out how a streamlined UX is key to our employee app by checking out our “day-in-the-life” employee stories.

Brian Kellner, Chief Technology Officer

Brian Kellner is responsible for Sitrion's product strategy and development. Brian has held product or development management positions for over a dozen years. Most recently he was Vice President of Enterprise Products for Webroot Software. Brian holds a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.S. in Management from Colorado Tech.


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