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The Importance of UI/UX - and why Raito’s first hire was a designer

Data access analytics needs a new approach to UI/UX. Building intuitive products is a must in today's world of cluttered offerings. But how do you make sure that you get it right? And how do you quickly ensure that you avoid pitfalls while building something that a potential user actually wants to use? We explain why its a core focus at Raito, and why data access analytics needs a UI/UX overhaul.

Who hasn’t experienced getting lost in a new tool? You’re excited about a new toy that promises to make you more productive, but you lose so much time figuring out how it works that it is turning out to actually be counterproductive? And that’s just during your ramp-up period. Often, your struggle continues even when you get acquainted with the tool. I, for example, still can’t figure out how Microsoft tools work as they present too much functionality in an, at least for me, counterintuitive composition.

Microsoft word's header
Microsoft Word - an endless maze of functionality

Actually, I am certain I am not alone in losing myself in the Microsoft Labyrinth. As Hick’s law states:

“The time it takes to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of choices.”

Graph showing Hick's Law curve
Hick's Law

Making your product easy to understand and use is probably something every product start-up is thinking about. This becomes even more complex when you want to present insightful analytics. One major reason is that people might interpret graphical representations of data differently than intended. A traditional example of this is the pie chart. You can find many posts about why they are bad. I really like the examples provided in this post which clearly visualizes how bad pie charts can be at providing helpful insights.

SaaS solutions’ UI/UX best practices

I did complain about the Microsoft Word UI/UX. But fair to say, I do understand where they are coming from and why things evolved in such a way. Evolving over time, extending functionality… It increases the risk of developing a cluttered UI. It’s therefore no surprise that Modern (read recent) SaaS solutions are leading with UI/UX.

Miro's navigation bar
Miro navigation

Paint's navigation bar
Paint navigation

A good example is Miro. The ease of accessing elements that add items to your canvas outperforms the one from Microsoft Paint by miles. Which is not a surprise, as Paint added functionality over the years. Miro was able to rethink the panel from scratch, based on the functionality of Paint and probably many other competitors.

There are many other examples of this process of learning from your predecessors. Notion extending on Confluence, both outperforming Sharepoint from a usability perspective. Slack can be compared to Microsoft teams. Modern tools without great UI/UX will most likely not survive. Older ‘dinosaurs’ can continue benefiting from their existing market share, but as a new kid on the block, you need to make your mark by providing a great experience.

The user experience of access management

Raito promises to simplify access management to data, regardless of the place that it lives. Microsoft, to stay in the same stack of ancient user experiences, does not have a counterpart across tools, hence I will take the internal access management of one of their tools - Sharepoint - as an example.

Sharepoint's permission management tools
Sharepoint permission management

Once again,  the screen is cluttered with navigation panels, functionality boxes, information appearing multiple times, and an array of new icons. Within Raito, we believe an overview should be clean, actionable and not too crowded. For example the overview of permissions to a data object looks as follows:

Raito permission management view
Raito permission management

There is more to a great user experience than a neat UI. Your entire journey matters, what you are able to view and do should be consistent throughout your entire journey. When you are familiar with Microsoft Teams and Outlook, you might have already noticed that they both have a web version as well as an app. The difficulty arises here when you realise that both versions differ in functionality. This implies you have four distinct views on your calendar, all providing you access to different sets of functionality. I lost count of the number of times I was swearing because I could not access a Teams call from the view that I visited.

Raito's permission management view
Raito permission management - consistent view

At Raito we constantly focus on making journeys through the product consistent. If you have the rights to view access to a table, you should find this information on the access provider (our Raito counterpart of a role) as well as on the user page. You can’t imagine the number of hours we have put into thinking this over and over to obtain a consistent user journey for all roles and and all journeys within Raito.

The user experience of data access requests

This brings me to talking about requesting access to the data, which is purposefully quite similar to the actual management of access. In the end it’s about creating a link between a user and a data object, either for a request, an approval or the actual granting of access. Let me therefore discuss this functionality from the data users perspective.

Most IT service desks are working with a ticketing system to monitor the inflow, progress and outflow of work. Servicenow and TopDesk are famous examples of such systems, but even Atlassian’s Jira has its own service desk application.

Jira Servicedesk example screen of common requests
Jira servicedesk - example screen

From the perspective of the IT service desk employee, such tools are great. Yet from the viewpoint of the requestor, these are often awful. They assume you can clearly describe what you want, or first go and search this in another application where the ‘problem’ originally resides.

At Raito, we believe that a request should get raised at the most convenient place for the requestor. When you have discovered the data you require, you should immediately be able to raise a request, not copy it over to a second tool.

Raito dashboard showing how to trigger workflows quickly
Raito - Trigger workflows immediately

As an extra benefit, Raito automates the implementation of an access request after the approval, which takes place in Raito as well. This even means no intervention of any kind of service desk is required. The request ends up with the correct approvers and after approval the implementation happens automatically and instantly. This is a great user experience, as it speeds up a process that in many companies typically is long and cumbersome.

The user experience of data access analytics

As mentioned in the introduction of this post, everything up until now was the “easy part” of great UI/UX. From the moment you want to provide insights, it even gets harder. Reports or charts are only useful when they are intuitive and insightful, when everyone that takes a look at them immediately gets the same takeaways.

Actually, taking a look at the UI of Microsoft's internal analytics - Microsoft Viva - makes me happy, despite the pie chart as percentages are added next to it. As this is a relatively new service, I am not surprised.

Microsoft Viva statistics digest summary
Extract Viva digest mail

Yet if you take a second look at it, it does not always provide insightful information and I am looking for actionability as well. Take for example “50% of your time was spent collaborating”. Is this a good thing? What does “collaborating” actually mean? And how can I improve this?

Our data access analytics should immediately give you a feeling about whether things are good or bad. And, crucially, you should be able to act upon them. Let’s have a look at our first reporting widget while entering Raito:

Raito's dashboard statistics overview
Raito Overview

It’s clear that these are not grades to be proud of. People having access and not using it is not a good situation. You can either chase or train them to use data, or take the access away from within Raito. We had doubts about whether or not to provide the insight about used tables, as this action lies outside of Raito’s scope: data not being used should be deleted, and that’s something you don’t do from within Raito. But anyways: as the action is clear, we have kept it in there.

Making complex information simple is always a tough job, regardless of how it is being presented. However, when in a product this becomes even more important. If you want to have people using your product to make their working lives easier, and especially when this is around decisions and analytics, then you have to go back to the beginning and remember Hick’s Law:

“The time it takes to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of choices.”

So, that’s why our first hire was a designer

I’ve already mentioned that we have spent a numerous amount of time thinking about consistent user journeys. A bunch of elements described in this article are frustrations we all encounter in our daily digital lives. Yet finding elegant solutions is an art which, as with most disciplines, requires trained skills.

That’s why Raito decided to first hire a designer - a UI/UX expert who can guide the team, avoiding common pitfalls. While demo-ing our product to potential customers, the first feedback is often that the tool looks neat and feels intuitive. We are very proud of this. If you want to simplify data access management, you should really simplify it, until perfection.

If you want to test whether we really live up to this promise, do not hesitate to reach out to us for a demo or test the product out yourself.