Filed in by Brian Hartsock | December 17, 2008 5:58 am
Making big changes to an application is hard, but sometimes necessary. When we added Exchange, we knew the Control Panel would need some dramatic changes. Making that change and helping our users adapt has been a great learning experience.
About a year ago, development began on the next version of the Control Panel. Not only did we want to add Exchange, we wanted to make the Control Panel the best application out there for managing your email. One of the biggest challenges we faced was navigation. Adding Exchange functionality to an already large application made the left menu break down. So, we set out to figure out how to organize all these pages.
That is exactly what we did. We made a more hierarchical menu organized by product, Exchange, Noteworthy, etc. This allowed us to add Exchange, while keeping the menu size manageable.
In April, we launched and received a lot of feedback. Some was positive. Some was not. One common theme emerged: the new Control Panel required too many clicks. Users did not want a hierarchical menu. They wanted an application that allowed them to add mailboxes quickly. While we set out to solve one problem, we actually caused another.
So we set out to try and fix the problem. Our designers and developers collaborated with users to improve navigation. A few months after the initial launch, Control Panel 3.1 was released. It contained many usability improvements, such as:
•Dashboards for quick links to common actions
•Products not purchased are collapsed by default, to reduce confusion
•The number of mailboxes and domains are listed, again to reduce confusion
•The product drop-down was removed in favor of simple links
•Features that spanned multiple products, like Spam Filtering, were made easier to find in each section
The best thing is we are not done yet. We are continually improving the design and usability of the Control Panel, as well as all of our applications. Along the way, we welcome any and all feedback. Our goal is simple, to make our users happy.
Source URL: http://www.rackspace.com/blog/adapting_and_changing/
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