Do you bring your iPad to work? Increasingly, employees who are dissatisfied with some hardware or software aspects in their work environment will simply use their own gadgets and machines. This trend has a name: "Bring Your Own Device", or BYOD, in short. It has its roots in bad user experience: people bring their devices to work because they want to recreate the ease of use that they experience at home.
While BYOD is all but undisputed and includes some serious security risks, it undoubtedly reinforces two trends: the need to accommodate to the growing tendency for personalization as well as a smooth user experience that works on all systems.
Magnolia 5, due in November, wants to take these trends up and develop visionary solutions for them. This is the challenge that user experience designer Andreas Weder faces. I interviewed Andreas to find out what kinds of UX problems he tackles, and how Magnolia 5 will satisfy these new needs.
Andreas, you restarted the Magnolia UX design about a year ago. What had gone wrong before?
We started out by trying to rework the existing UI to make it more scalable and extensible. Our idea was to rely on what was working and to refresh the visual design at the same time. We expected this would retain Magnolia's intuitiveness. It turned out that just inflating the existing concept wouldn't work. Users who tested and reviewed our first attempt weren't satisfied with the usability anymore. They missed Magnolia’s ease-of-use and lightness of appearance. We realized we had mostly lost the previous, positive user experience.
Our main answer to this kind of overblown and complex interface was to bring in the concept of apps: Magnolia 5 will have a very task-centered UI. The complexity is broken down into different apps, each focusing on a set of closely related tasks. This will help the user concentrate on one endeavor at a time and prioritize tasks accordingly. It also results in a very clean interface we emphasized with a new visual design, which is inspired by the many lessons learned in print graphics. When we re-ran the tests and showed our work to partners, we got so much positive feedback that we knew we were back on track.
Are there features of Magnolia 5 that will allow me to personalize my interface, to adapt it to my needs?
Yes, absolutely. The most important feature for personalization in Magnolia 5 is called favorites. Let me give you an example: to create a new article, you currently need several steps to get started with writing. With Magnolia 5, all you'll have to do is create a favorite for this action by modelling it after a previous one and you'll be ready to write the article within two clicks. Creating a favorite is easy, using it is easy. The number of steps you need to get you going on your common tasks will be significantly reduced. Your personal interface consists of a set of favorites tailored to your needs and thus becomes as dynamic and lively as your work often is.
Trends like BYOD show the need for software to run on all systems. How does Magnolia 5 accommodate to that?
Magnolia 5 will focus on running on iPad, too. Magnolia 5 on iPad runs a web app and will have the same features, the same intuitive usability, but it will of course be adapted. We can't just make it work by supporting touch and gestures - core aspects of the interface have to be adjusted, for example the menu area. Magnolia 5 doesn't only provide touch support, it has been designed and made for touch. The result makes for a stunning, almost native experience on the iPad.
Which feature of the new Magnolia user experience will delight the user most?
I think what's most important is to convey a joy of use. This was also part of what we were reminded of after the heavily criticized first attempt: emotions matter. The new user experience should still be generous, friendly and intuitive – things that are heavily connected to a user's emotions. As I mentioned, this is also reflected in the new visual design, which feels at once modern and well known; it hints to existing systems you love, but nevertheless is truly Magnolia. It is generous, easy on the eye and somewhat laid back. So I'd say that the positive emotions connected to the joy of use of Magnolia 5 will definitely blow everyone's mind.
Excited about Magnolia 5's improved user experience? Want to know more about apps, favorites and other new features? There will soon be more blog posts on hot new topics. Stay tuned and subscribe to our RSS feed here.