It is the natural progression of most applications (and companies) to travel from a simple, categorical focus to a more complex, multifaceted approach.
Whether it’s Facebook moving from a student directory to a conglomerate of virtually every social feature imaginable and their attendant targeted advertising strategies, or Amazon moving from an online bookstore to one of the world’s leading ecommerce platforms, successful companies evolve.
With that evolution comes rising complexity in their site, product, or app. Many organizations adopt a Digital Experience Intelligence platform like FullStory for just that reason—to understand how their customers interact with their application, identify areas of complexity or confusion, and use those insights to streamline the digital customer experience. (As an organization, FullStory is not immune to these challenges as we grow, but fortunately for us… we have FullStory.)
Designing FullStory’s new Home experience
Accidental complexity vs. essential complexity
In preparing for our recent update to the home page experience in FullStory, we used both quantitative trends in our customer behavior and qualitative data from user sessions to identify potential areas for simplifying the experience.
In doing that, we developed a framework that outlines a clear distinction between accidental complexity and essential complexity. Let’s define them:
Accidental complexity confuses the user in some way and makes it harder for them to realize value. It’s the kind of problem that surfaces over time as product and design teams make tradeoff decisions across many features.
Essential complexity exists in features that lose value when simplified. The power and flexibility of those features make things possible for users that can’t be accomplished through other means. We strive to make sure that whenever our users encounter a complex workflow in FullStory, it feels worth it in the value it produces for them. Along with these distinctions, we need to account for both our existing users that have grown accustomed to our UI and new customers that are learning it for the first time.
Designing with users in mind
Our first order of business was to decide what should occupy the home page in our application. Our customers are used to logging in and seeing the segment builder, which allows them to quickly filter down to specific sessions while also providing some high level metrics. It’s a powerful tool, but for new users it can also be overwhelming.
As users become more familiar with the segment builder, they often want to edit, save, and re-use the high level metrics on their other Dashboards, but can’t. It also narrowed focus onto viewing sessions only by segment, obscuring other methods like metrics and funnels that connect qualitative session data to quantitative data.
Transitioning to the new Home experience
To ease the transition to the new Home experience for existing users, we began by taking a “first, do no harm” approach.
Here are four key features of the Home in FullStory:
The existing Segments experience remains virtually untouched. While the Segment Builder is no longer your first login experience, it's easy to travel to and retains its entire feature set.
Now at login, users are greeted with a Dashboard-like experience that’s oriented around the individual user. It has a variety of starter cards that provide high level insights, which users can edit and add to any other Dashboard in FullStory.
To make Home easy to personalize, it features a drag and drop interface to move any card precisely where you want it.
And lastly, cards have been enhanced to support a new full width format, giving charts room to breathe and a playlist session view that can turn any chart into a set of playable sessions.
What’s new in navigation
While having a solid home base is important, we also know users won’t be spending all of their time there. So the next step was to improve our navigation to make it easier to get everywhere else.
FullStory navigation is now housed entirely in the sidebar, significantly reducing the amount of screen real estate it takes up. And if you really need that extra space, it’s also now collapsible.
Previously, the sidebar also restricted users to the context they were in. For example, if you were in Segments, you could only view and search Segments in the sidebar. The new sidebar is universal. Your favorites for any chart type are always readily at hand, and you can now search anything in your library from anywhere in the application.
There’s no place like Home
This release was significant—but the work is never done and more updates are on the horizon. Soon, users will have the option to keep work private while you build it. This can be used as a sandbox to explore data without clogging up your org with new charts, or as a way to draft charts and get them just right before publishing. We’ll also bring all of the powerful new features from Home to Dashboards—drag and drop layout management, size and format controls for cards, and more will be available across the board.