Version française aussi disponible: https://medium.com/@pawelutr/untill-ce-nest-plus-un-pain-in-the-pos-6963c0486e19
Untill is an all-in-one platform for hospitality management. Restaurants, bars, cafés, hotels, events, you name it. They’ve been around for 20+ years, delivering software for the hospitality industry and over time they have accumulated a big, impressively loyal user base. We’ve partnered with them to catalyse a digital transformation — quite an elaborate one, might I add, even though we were on a really tight schedule.
Over the aforementioned 20+ years, the Untill toolset got so complex and branchy that it has become nearly impossible to assimilate it without one-on-one tutoring with a company representative — which was a major obstacle preventing Untill from welcoming new customers.
Year after year, modules with additional functionalities kept being added, seemingly without much thought going into the overall user experience. Piled up one on top of the other, features sparked more confusion than joy even amongst the most seasoned users — often due to poor logical connections.
…to bring about order
“Ogarniesz to?” is a question I remember being asked by someone from the pre-sales team involved in closing the deal with a client from the Netherlands. It basically means “Can you handle it?”. “Sure” — I replied, without overthinking it, even though I was only beginning to comprehend the complexity of the challenge ahead and it was giving me anxiety.
Untill takes pride in:
“giving invaluable insight into business administration and delivering automation that makes everyone work more efficiently.”
All that came at a cost of what felt like never-ending indentations of forms, redundant page duplicates, and content nestings occurring within the interface in places you wouldn’t expect them to occur.
Quick to adapt
A rough cost estimate has bound us to a tight deadline — and since the client had only hired a team with one designer, the scope seemed impossible to fulfil. After a brief catch-up with a few senior members of our product design team, we’ve decided to introduce a junior designer to the project, free of charge for the client. That way the workload could be split between two people right from the start. Jakub Kuik — the newly-hired designer invited to join the project — proved a fantastic fit, handling UX-related questions (which were popping up at every corner) really well and swiftly adapting to the imposed fast pace.
The library is now open
The application’s dated look was an issue of course, but the most important challenge of this project was rethinking and rebuilding the web app’s structure. We needed to make entering, editing and viewing data more accessible and pleasurable.
To achieve that, we’ve begun with a strong UX focus, creating new flows and high fidelity wireframes. A shorter UI phase would follow, during which we’ve delivered final, polished screen designs and a library of UI components to set Untill up for the long haul. Assets included in that library have not only facilitated our workflow as we were designing screens but also enabled for a smooth handoff to the developers later on.
Krzysztof (our Quality Assurance Specialist) and his diligence during these few months reassured me time and again about the advantages of including QAs in design projects. He questioned each design decision that could possibly have resulted in users getting confused and pointed out even the tiniest inconsistencies which without him we would have missed.
Two teams becoming one
Close collaboration and continuous idea consulting between the Untill product owners and the Netguru team resulted in the updated interface being that much better. We successfully streamlined the application’s flows and simplified the experience for future users greatly, which would not have been possible without the Untill stakeholders’ openness to exploring new ideas and their continual trust in our expertise.
At many points we were faced with what seemed like roadblocks, issues that were bound to set us back. Each time, however, the obstructions were dealt with quickly — thanks to prompt, direct communication and having the liberty to investigate even the unobvious solutions, often only to better understand and appreciate the value inherent in the simplest answers.
Some lessons I’ve learned
- 🤯 Approaching big challenges methodically (though always with an open mind) makes them appear smaller.
- 🚨 Don’t get stuck on an idea if there are red flags suggesting it may not work in the long run. It will cost you more time further down the line to improve upon the desultory solutions you decided to stick with despite your gut telling you to scrap them.
- 🙈 Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Advice and support may come from unexpected sources — when they do, greet them with open arms.
- 😵 Don’t move around your mouse unconsciously as you’re presenting your work via Google Hangouts, because one of your interlocutors might actually be trying to follow the cursor and get dizzy.
- 🕶 In the words of Vanessa De Luca: Remain humble — but let ’em know.
- UX strategy
- Creative direction
- UX/UI design
Wojciech Domagala (PM), Jakub Kuik (PD), Pawel Utr (PD), Krzysztof Ziolek (QA)
A big thank you to Netguru’s Gabriela Bryndal, Luke Pachytel, Marcin Paluch, Magda Pitula, and Dawid Wozniak and to our Dutch collaborators Marco Hibma, Franklin de Pree, and Peter Schepers for these few fruitful months of working together.