Content management: then and now
I worked with OpenText on their product suite of enterprise applications for over a year. Together, our team launched a suite of lightweight SaaS apps called LEAP apps designed to attend to a range of content-related use cases and integrate with any content repository. After release, in continuing the product development efforts, the Leap team took an investigative look at some of their existing products.
One product stood out in that it had managed to retain a steady number of active users despite the product not being updated in 15 years. We were curious-- could an updated version of this product sit at the table with our other, more modern, LEAP applications?
Working through it
First off, looking at a product that hadn’t been updated for 15 years (before UX was a known term!) and working with a team who saw this product come to fruition was a valuable and humbling experience. When eRoom was created, there was a lot of interest in the integration of collaboration and content management. That still rings true today.
How might we
My first design exercise would be a 15-question “how might we” iterative sketching session. I started by sketching out the dashboard of the existing product to-date. Through each question, I slowly made adjustments to the hierarchy, navigation, and tried to modernize the feature set.
Organization was crucial for this product concept, If the user did not have a solid understanding of how the content was organized, the collaboration aspect would be unusable.
From the dashboard, a user can access and create different rooms. Within each room the user is able to organize their content using a common file tree structure. This was the best decision as it's the most common and intuitive used pattern for file organization. The eRoom product was utilizing something similar, but in a more complicated fashion so I consider this a major UX enhancement.
An organized and intuitive structure benefits the product by ensuring we maintain multiple levels of user permissions and the granular levels of communication that is important to eRoom users.
This panel on the right is where all the magic happens. This panel shows the user all of the activity and comments happening at this level, which they can then filter to see information only pertaining to the exact level versus summaries of what's going on in the subsequent levels. These cards link the user directly to that level to view the information.
Special consideration was taken to ensure it was as intuitive as possible for the user to understand the contextual nature of the product, and the level of hierarchy they were in or navigating to. This interaction shows the user the comments or activity transition in from the right (for deeper levels) or from the left (for higher levels) as they navigate.
Data tables are one of the most important features in eRoom today; they are the main reason it has retained so many active users. Data tables are a unique content type in this product as the user is able to access an additional granularity to collaborate on: an individual row.
Here the user is presented the option to choose which view would be best to configure their information: table view or form view. From that point on, the data table would allow the user to quickly switch between the two views (below). These two different views are tied into the same information and reflect back to one another as the user makes adds content or makes edits.
The experience map shown below helped our team in understanding this robust feature and all it's capabilities, and kept us focused when communicating the functionality in meetings.
We never made it to a visual design cycle of this project, but I wanted our stakeholders to be able to imagine it in the real world, sitting next to our Leap products so I came up with a quick iteration to end the project.
These all have the same size shadow, with same shadow color, opacity, etc. The differences are all in the positioning.
For the duration of this project I was able to spend a lot of time in heavy iteration mode and in the end I feel strongly that the solutions we reached accomplish our goals in modernizing the features while striving for an intuitive experience.