User centered development – the key to making Visma Control twice as efficient

Developing software products is a joint effort. There are several aspects and fields of expertise that need to collaborate in order to create a good product. The re-launch of Visma Control is based on close collaboration between me as a user experience designer, quality assurers, developers, the product owner in the team and most essential of all, the users. Together we created a product that is better, faster and more satisfying to use.

control5.6

Visma Control 5.6, previous version

At the time we started the project with Visma Control, the software had been in the market for over 20 years. It was a financial software that was appreciated by the 11 000 Swedish users, since it offered the functionality they needed and good performance. 20 years ago when Control was created, focus was on providing the needed functionality, not how easy the functionality actually is to use. Improving the ease of use and efficiency in the product has therefore been the focus in this project.

The process

I believe it is an exciting journey to be a part of a user centered development process. With Visma Control we started with evaluating the software through user observations, which means that we studied the users working with their normal tasks in the product and noticed the problems they encountered. In addition to the user observations, we also analysed support statistics of the product. This gave us useful insights about the problems in the existing product and the users’ needs. We identified three main areas for improvement connected to ease of use.

  •  Commonly used functionality needed to be simplify and separated from less used functionality to provide clearer screens and workflows. Related functionality also needed to be gathered closer together and visualised to increase intuitiveness
  • Search needed to be made more easy accessible and faster to use so the users do not have to memorize data such as IDs and names
  • The menus needed to be improved to support faster and more logical navigation inside the product

One essential task after identifying the users’ needs and the problems in the existing product is to prototype and test iteratively in order to adjust and fulfil the needs. I find that close collaboration with the product owner is necessary in the whole process, especially in this step. In this project the product owner had great knowledge of the product and domain and a deep understanding of the users’ needs, as a result of being in close contact with the users regularly. This made it easy for me to create good prototypes and also to test these prototypes. We performed three rounds of user tests with a total of ten users, improving the prototypes between each round.

The result

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The goal for this project was to deliver a product to our customers that was easier to use and more efficient. To ensure this we conducted a test where 20 users got to test the new version as well as the previous version.
During the test we measured time, number of mouse clicks and keyboard strokes. The result shows that all three factors were drastically improved.

graph_keyboardstrokesWe believe that the most important improvement for our customers is the time saved using the new solution. The time spent went down to half in the new version, which we regard to be a result of more efficient and easy to use workflows, search functionality and navigation.

In June 2013 we reached the goal and re-launched Visma Control as a new and improved product. It does not only offer the functionality needed, but also offers functionality that is easy to use.

graph_mouseclicks

The new product includes major changes compared to the previous version, hence an adaptation process is necessary for existing customers in order to get going with the new version. Due to intuitive design and saved time the adaptation phase has been considered as short and worthwhile by the customers that have upgraded so far.

Sales of the new version of the product have also increased rapidly. The main reason new customers are  buying Visma Control instead of a competitor is due to its unique concept with workflows that will make their daily work more efficient and easy to perform.

control7.0

Visma Control 7.0, new version

If you are interested in finding out more about Visma Control, visit the Swedish product site.

Have you tried the new Visma Control 7.0? Please add a comment and let us know what you think.

Camilla Johansson work as a user experience architect at Visma Software’s International Product Unit. Been working at Visma for 6 years and has a passion for working with user centred development. Believe that conducting user observations and test as well as developing prototypes are the most rewarding and interesting parts of her work. M.Sc. in Interaction design, B.Sc. in Informatics.
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