If you’ve been updating your Wistia settings in the Account Dashboard lately, you might have noticed it got a little facelift. Well, it’s been a while in the making.
When I joined the Wistia design team in February, one of our customers’ nagging frustrations was making simple account updates. It was such a bummer to hear! So, the account dashboard was one of the very first things I took on.
Aaron Walter describes a Maslow-inspired hierarchy of user needs in which a design should be functional, then reliable, then usable, and then finally pleasurable, or, as we Wistians like to say, delightful.
Looking at our old dashboard, I felt that it was functional, reliable, and mostly usable. I mean, the settings displayed and updated as they should, but couldn’t we make this experience more usable? Delightful, even?
First, I had to familiarize myself with our customers’ needs and the current design. This was tough in itself. I was redesigning an interface that was very new to me, for customers I was still getting to know. We spent about two months iterating, discussing, and scribbling. Finally, we reached a final design for the entire account dashboard. It was a complete overhaul: totally new from the styles to the structure to the interactions.
And then… nothing happened. My designs began to collect dust in Adobe Illustrator. We started talking about this overhaul, or “Cleansweep” as we were calling it, in the hushed tones normally reserved for more taboo topics like “people who don’t recycle.”
Looking back, it makes sense. We had created a project that seemed technically insurmountable. When I’d glance over the chasm between the current and ideal designs, the leap seemed enormous. Where would we even begin? Finally, Jeff, who had apparently had enough of our shoegazing, got us back on track. He suggested we snap out of our paralysis by simply taking a step.
Over several cups of coffee and lots of whiteboard marker, Jeff and I came up with a plan to build and implement Cleansweep in phases. It wasn’t too hard to identify and bucket changes that belonged in the same “phase” — style changes should happen all at once, but a re-organization could wait for later. Totally new functionality? That should be separately scoped and built on its own timeline, instead of holding up the show.
One thing we refused to sacrifice in this phased approach was creating a delightful experience. Delight goes beyond adding Easter eggs to make people smile (although we do love that, too!). Creating a delightful experience means starting from the users’ perspective, and giving them exactly what they need intentionally and efficiently. It’s an intricate balance between creating expected interactions and surpassing expectations with pleasant surprises.
How do you make an account settings page more delightful? By speeding it up and reducing the amount of time it takes to complete a task.
Phase One introduces a new style paradigm that makes it easier to scan and find the settings you are looking for (because we hope you won’t have to change these settings often).
We added sidebar navigation to speed up clicking between the settings sections. An overview landing page allows you to easily see your most important account information at a glance. A greeting by name commends you for your video wins with some just-for-fun stats — as well as an exploration of how many adjectives we can apply to the word “videos” (hint: refresh your overview page!). And that is just the beginning.
As a relatively new web designer, this whole phase-planning idea was a bit foreign to me. Bringing a pixel-perfect vision to life was what I was trained to do! But as my first-phase design began to fall into place, I realized why this phased approach was what building for the web was like. Having a web prototype to interact with exposed situations I hadn’t planned for, and it made it much easier to share my vision for things like interactions.
What was perfect yesterday will be in need of work by tomorrow. This dance of staggered refinement keeps us always moving forward, never stagnant. One step is more attainable than a giant leap, allowing for quick iteration and improvements between steps. Besides, rolling out smaller changes incrementally provides an easier transition for users, mitigating the risk of disorienting them. That’s a win-win in my book!
I’m pleased to present this first phase to all our customers. You’ll see that the settings you know and love are where they’ve always been, just in a slightly more intuitive layout and a more delightful look. We’ve made some fun changes under the hood, but I’ll let you discover them (or even better, be blissfully unaware of their positive impact!).
Phase Two of Cleansweep aims to make the account section even more usable and delightful. We’re working on more intuitive organization, smoother interactions, better billing notifications, expanded API controls, celebrating your Wisti-anniversaries, and applying all of these new styles to the rest of the account section.
We’ve got a few more planks to lay down on this bridge, but we’re a whole step closer to a more usable and delightful dashboard for all.
How do you approach projects that feel insurmountable at first? What changes would you like to see in your Wistia account dashboard?