This article presents a case study on Acumbamail, a project that saw us, the Growens design team, embark on a six-month journey to enhance the platform’s user experience design in 2022-2023. Acumbamail, a SaaS company within our group that specializes in marketing campaign delivery, didn’t have a dedicated internal product team. As a result, we joined forces with them on this journey.
Even though Acumbamail is no longer part of Growens at the time of this article’s publication, the project we undertook together remains a testament to our synergy and collaborative spirit. It was a shared endeavor that brought about significant improvements and valuable insights, reflecting the strength of our collective efforts.
Context and Goals
The Acumbamail project was initiated with a clear vision: to revamp the platform with a strong user-oriented approach. Our primary objectives were:
- User-Centered Focus: Our goal was to identify and rectify usability issues through heuristic analysis, setting the stage for a strategic redesign roadmap.
- Usability Boost: We aimed to elevate the user experience by increasing consistency and improving navigation across the platform. We knew that a usable platform, easy to navigate and consistent in its design, would lead to a more engaging and efficient user experience.
- Information Architecture Optimization: By employing heuristic principles, we planned to refine and enrich the platform’s structure, making it more intuitive and usable.
- Collaborative Development: Recognizing the importance of collaboration, we included developers as key stakeholders right from the start. We were convinced that this inclusive approach would not only ensure a smoother implementation process but also result in a final product that was both technically sound and user-centric.
- Business Collaboration and Metrics Monitoring: To assess the impact of our design changes on the business, we defined specific metrics for each section. This allowed us to measure the design impact, something that wasn’t done previously.
Unfolding the Journey
The project was a meticulous journey that spanned over six months. The process began with a comprehensive mapping of the platform, a crucial step that allowed us to understand the existing user flows and identify key user tasks and goals. We relied heavily on Information Architecture principles, such as those outlined by Abby Covert, to guide our evaluation of product usability.
We redesigned all these sections:
- Social media
- My account
- Website builder (new section)
Uncovering usability issues was a task that demanded attention to detail and a comprehension of Acumbamail users. This process was enriched by merging two complementary UX design perspectives – one focusing on the interface, usability and UI and the other on systems relations, flows and high level Information architecture.
Initially, we pinpointed areas of friction, then systematically organized and prioritized our findings based on their potential impact on the business.
This comprehensive understanding paved the way for us to devise and implement effective solutions, enhancing the overall user interaction with the platform.
Once we had a clear understanding of the problems at hand, we embarked on the ideation phase. Minor fixes were addressed directly in the UI, while larger issues required a more foundational design from the flows up and testing process.
For instance, we discovered that users were having difficulty navigating the platform due to a complex menu structure. To address this, we redesigned the menu to be more intuitive and findable, a solution that was arrived at after several rounds of cardsorting, sketching, and user testing.
After designing each solution, we set about defining the key performance indicators (KPIs) for each section. This was crucial in understanding the impact of our design changes. We aimed to quantify the success of our solutions and provide a means for ongoing performance monitoring. By setting clear, measurable goals, we could evaluate the effectiveness of our design decisions and make data-informed adjustments as needed. We used a dashboard in Leapsome to keep these KPIs monitored, giving us a real-time view of how our design changes were affecting user behavior and business outcomes.
The project concluded with a reflection on our key learnings and an exploration of opportunities for further improvement.
Insights, Challenges, and (also) Joy
As we embarked on the redesign project for Acumbamail, we navigated through a multitude of issues, ideated practical solutions, iterated on our designs based on user, business and tech feedback, and made informed design decisions. Along the way, we experienced both successes and failures, each providing valuable lessons that helped us grow as individual designers and as a team. In this section, we delve into the specifics of our journey, shedding light on our design process, decision-making, and learnings.
User Research Insights
Our journey began with a comprehensive mapping of the Acumbamail platform. We utilized Abby Covert’s Information Architecture heuristics as guiding principles to assess the platform’s usability. This systematic approach allowed us to identify usability issues across different categories, such as findability, clarity, and usefulness, among others. We used tools like Miro and Google Sheets to structure and analyse usability data: the first was instrumental in helping us map out the user journey and highlight areas of friction, the second allowed us to organise our findings and prioritise them based on their impact on the business, the technical development and the user experience.
During this process, we identified a multitude of issues. We can take as example the email campaign section.
These ranged from UI/UX design problems, such as issues with pop-up design and unclear segment interactions, to challenges with information presentation and user guidance. This thorough analysis laid the groundwork for the improvements we were about to make, providing us with a clear understanding of the areas that needed our attention.
For a deeper dive into our process, check out our detailed “Step-by-Step Guide from Heuristics Analysis to Developer Handoff”
Ideation Process examples
Once the problems were identified, we proposed specific solutions for each issue. For instance, to tackle the UI/UX design issues, we suggested enhancing the micro-copy and context, correcting color status and CSS, redesigning the workflow to be more intuitive, and improving component interactions.
Prototyping and Testing scenarios
In the SMS campaign flow, we proposed several strategic enhancements to foster a more streamlined, intuitive experience. These included prominently displaying credits and main actions on the SMS page, distinguishing link buttons within categories, and making users’ credit balance readily visible on the main page.
To ensure these changes were indeed beneficial and intuitive for the user, we created a prototype of the flow and conducted user testing. This validation process confirmed the effectiveness of our proposals, reinforcing that our user-centric approach positively influenced the overall user interaction with the platform.
Design Decisions (some of the thousands)
In the SMTP section, we identified several issues and proposed solutions. For example, we suggested creating distinct homepages for different user groups explaining feature availability and usage, providing all necessary copy and examples on a single page, and introducing action buttons with dropdowns for direct import method selection.
Successes and Failures
In the menu change section, we successfully implemented several changes, such as revising the categorization on the platform for clarity and consistency, ensuring a uniform look across the platform, and introducing a new feature. These enhancements notably amplified the platform’s usability, creating a more seamless and satisfying user journey. We were able to cultivate a more engaging and intuitive platform. However, in the homepage dashboard section, we identified several areas for improvement after our proposals. These include limited user exploration, lack of motivation for experienced users, and the need to better meet diverse user needs. These challenges underscore the need for further refinement in our design approach to cater to all users effectively.
Collaboration with Developers
The implementation of our proposed solutions would have required close collaboration with developers. We’ve made it a point to involve them as key stakeholders in our design process. This isn’t limited to just the implementation stage; we bring them in from the very beginning, during the low-fidelity design phase, and continue to involve them right through to the final, pixel-perfect versions. This approach has been instrumental in ideating realistic and praticable prototypes reducing friction and ensuring smooth transitions between design and development phases. It fosters a sense of shared ownership and mutual learning. We discovered the importance of pixel-perfect designs, comprehensive flows, and detailed interactions to ensure technical feasibility. We learned that every design decision, no matter how small, could have a significant impact on the final product. The developers, in turn, learned to ask more questions about the purpose of each flow, understood the importance of testing, and recognized the value of maintaining consistency through the use of a pattern library. This mutual learning process underscored the importance of cross-disciplinary collaboration in creating a user-centric product.
Personal Growth and Professional Insights
Throughout this project, my journey as a UX designer took a transformative turn. I was introduced to the agile development methodology, a dynamic and iterative approach that reshaped my understanding of project management. This experience allowed me to delve deeper into the characteristics of development, appreciating the nuances and complexities that often go unnoticed.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned was the importance of effective communication within a team. Working closely with developers who were deeply ingrained in their methods, I realized the necessity of finding a common language that bridged our different perspectives. This was not just about conveying design ideas, but also about understanding their constraints and challenges, and supporting their processes.
This experience was a testament to the fact that UX design is not a solitary endeavor. It’s a collaborative process that requires understanding, empathy, and effective communication. It’s about supporting each other in our shared goal of creating a product that meets the needs of the users and the objectives of the business.
It was a learning journey that has significantly contributed to my growth as a UX designer. It has taught me to adapt, to understand, and to communicate better, skills that I will carry forward in my future endeavors.
Data-informed Improvements: Quantifying the Impact of Our Design Decisions
In our work as UX designers, we understand the importance of data in validating our design decisions. We utilised Amplitude to create a dashboard for each section, enabling us to monitor the performance of each section continuously. This approach ensured that our design decisions were not only user-focused but also aligned with business objectives. The redesign of the campaign flows for both email and SMS campaigns brought about significant improvements, as evidenced by the decrease in error rates and time required to send campaigns.
For email campaigns, we observed a 161% decrease in the error rate. This reduction signifies the effectiveness of our design interventions in enhancing system performance and reliability, leading to a smoother user experience, increased operational efficiency, and higher customer satisfaction.
We also managed to reduce the average time required to send email campaigns by 66%. This improvement streamlines the workflow, enabling users to send campaigns more efficiently.
In the SMS campaign flow, we achieved a 0% error rate, demonstrating the precision of our design process. This reduction in errors not only enhances the user experience but also boosts operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.
The quick SMS sending process also saw a significant decrease in the error rate, with a reduction of 148%. This improvement underscores the effectiveness of our design interventions in enhancing system performance and reliability.
Reflecting on the Impact and Insights
Working on the Acumbamail project has been a journey filled with learning and growth.
As a UX designer, seeing our designs positively impact user experience and operational efficiency has been incredibly fulfilling. The usability challenges we unearthed represented substantial opportunities for business expansion. By addressing these issues, we’ve not only made the platform more usable but also more useful, aligning it more closely with the needs and goals of our users. This has the potential to boost user engagement and retention, contributing to the platform’s overall value.
While we made significant strides, the project also highlighted areas for further improvement. These challenges serve as reminders that in UX design, there’s always room for growth and learning. The process used in this project, from issue identification to solution implementation, has provided Acumbamail with a roadmap for future projects.
In conclusion, the Acumbamail project wasn’t just about redesigning a platform; it was about discovery, collaboration, and continual improvement.