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Why a Simplified UI Should be at the Core of Your BDR Experience

Posted June 24, 2016by Dan Zavala

User experience (UX) encompasses the interaction our partners have with our IT management platform. Here at Continuum, we can't be successful unless our partners are successful and because of that, one of our company-wide goals is to ensure that our partners have the best possible interaction when working with our platform. More importantly, we strive to make the product simple to use so it supports partners' work rather than hinder it. 

As a user experience designer, I'm responsible for optimizing how our partners interact with our platform and in particular our backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution, Continuity247®. Recently, we completed a significant redesign of Continuity247's Server Backup Manager user interface (UI) in an effort to improve the UX for partners. It was a long but rewarding process, and as with all our endeavors, our partners were central to producing the new and improved Server Backup Manager we're so excited to deliver to you today.

 

UX Problems We Identified in Our BDR Platform  

As explained in How to Design Your MSP Website with User Experience in Mind, there are many UX best practices to keep in mind, one of the main ones being to "do your research and know your user." When originally designing Continuity247 we identified our partners' needs and expectations and incorporated these findings in the first release. After the release, we received much feedback from partners about the Server Backup Manager UI. 

We’ve learned that our partners are multi-taskers and are often interrupted. They needed to minimize their time handling backup tasks so they could move on to more pressing, revenue-driving work. As they began to interact with the Server Backup Manager UI, partners noted that it was initially difficult to use and that it took them a while to complete some of their core tasks. In addition, they noted that there was some key functionality missing. This feedback prompted us to redesign Server Backup Manager with the goal of making it easier to use, seamless, intuitive and painless.       

 

How We Worked Towards Improving Continuity247 UI

With all that in mind, we doubled down to bring the new UI of Continuity247 you can leverage today. After consolidating all of the very helpful partner feedback we received, the team discerned which core tasks partners needed to complete. This included adding a server or desktop to the appliance and setting it up with a backup schedule, restoring files and virtualizing a server or desktop from a backup.

Next, we reviewed the patterns and structures in our IT support portal. These patterns and structures were crucial to review because they reflect how our partners expect to interact with our IT management platform as a whole. After creating three different versions for a redesigned UI for the Server Backup Manager, we reached out to our partners and scheduled time with them to demonstrate our concepts. With each, we asked partners questions along the way to elicit feedback. Once enough qualitative data had been gathered, we focused on what worked well and what could be improved with each concept. Finally, the Continuity247 team consolidated the partner input and took the best parts of each concept to define a direction for the redesign.

Now, our new and improved user interface design expands on the simplified UI philosophy that we introduced the first time around to integrate all platform functionality into one, easy-to-use interface. As a result, all core tasks, including protecting and virtualizing machines, restoring files, viewing local and cloud storage analytics and predicting monthly billing can all be performed right from the main dashboard allowing partners to maximize their efficiency within the platform.

Take a look!

Redesign of Continuity247's Server Backup Manager User Interface

 

What's Next

Meeting with partners before implementing a design helps us verify that whatever is developed meets their needs. When working on any UI or UX project, you have to know your user. If we hadn't worked so closely with our partners and if they hadn't provided such helpful product reviews and requests, we wouldn't have the end result that we're so excited to release today. But that's not the end of it! User experience design is iterative and ever changing.

There are always ways to enhance the UI and UX so we encourage all partners that have adopted our fully-managed BDR platform, Continuity247, to send us your feedback and reach out to your Technical Success Manager to participate in our research efforts. In the same way that we take all input to heart with our remote monitoring and management (RMM) software, delivering monthly releases, we'll pay the same careful attention with our business continuity solution. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the new look and feel of Continuity247's UI!

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Dan Zavala is a User Experience Designer at Continuum, where he focuses on understanding how Continuity247® fits into Continuum partners’ day-to-day work, and finding simple solutions that make Continuity247 easier to use. His love for researching user needs and providing services that makes their lives easier stems from his time at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College, where he received his Master’s degree.

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