Crafting a new presentation

Automated User Provisioning – a phrase that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. But user provisioning is a problem that plagues many IT departments all across the world. Zohno provides an easy user provisioning product for sys admins to automate that process with just the click of a button! With my design background and experiences with developing marketing campaigns, I was asked to help get things off the ground. Along with developing the company’s brand, I designed and built the company website. Here is how it was made.

Project goals

  1. Improve the presentation of the site.

  2. Execute a consistent vision.

My roles and responsibilities

  • End-to-end design

  • Marketing

  • Front-end development

The Why

Who is the customer?
Zohno makes software to make life easier for IT teams and system administrators. These individuals help manage a lot of the operations that help companies function. Without them, a critical systems and services would have to be handled directly by other teams.

What are their goals?
User provisioning deals with the internal processes that take place when an employee joins and leaves a company. IT teams and system administrators deal with a lot of different issues and get pulled in a lot of different directions. One moment, they might be diagnosing network issues, and the next, they have to figure out why someone's passwords aren't working. Getting everything done in a quick and efficient manner is their chief concern!

What are their pain points?
In a lot of companies, user provisioning is handled manually. Often times, system administrators will have to go in and directly edit the employee databases to create or decommission employee accounts. As you might expect, this is not ideal, especially when you consider that different services used by the company (like Exchange, Active Directory, Office, etc.) might need different things. Or rather, they might use the same information, but might need it in different ways. As you can see, manually editing database records is perhaps how things were done in the past, but it's not the way of the future!

The What

The original site (which I also made and won’t show how bad it was) was very basic, something that provided Zohno with a basic web presence and not much more. It was essentially a basic template that let the founder update or create whatever pages he needed. I later redesigned the original version to update the appearance because, quite frankly, the original version was terrible! The redesign helped with gaining more visibility, and I was asked again to update the look and feel of the website.

As usual, I start by sketching and writing. This time, it was more about developing and refining the brand, and I wanted to give it a more modern presentation. Most every tech or startup company site is organized into separate panels or sections to showcase different kinds of content. So this was where I began.

After noodling around with ideas, I created a higher fidelity sketch to try and define more of what it would look like. Working my way from high level ideas to more concrete details helps me envision what things could look like.

During this time, I also started looking into redesigning the company logo. I created the original logo a while back and I thought it would be good if the branding were included with the website redesign. I sketched out a bunch of different ideas. Not all of them are great, but that's the point of sketching, right? :)

I discussed different ideas with Zohno about the logo, but in the end, I decided that we didn't really need to make the scope of the website redesign bigger by tossing in branding and stuff as well. It was fun to dream about it, but I didn't want to delay the site design. Interestingly, the exploration into logo design helped me realize a nice visual concept that I could use on the website.

In the first redesign, I used the angles from the "Z" logo as a visual motif. It was kind of nice, and the subtle, suggestive nature of the graphic design to the brand felt like a good direction to go in, but I also wanted to change it up this time around. Borrowing ideas from the logo exploration, I realized that user provisioning is about interconnections. I mean, yes, the task for sys admins is creating or deleting accounts and things, but the nature of the work is very interconnected. The same data goes into all kinds of different accounts, in different databases, and it all has to be unified. This was the core concept for the new design.

Once settled on the main idea, I sketched how the same visual style could be applied to the rest of the supporting pages. I also needed to create icons for these pages, so I sketched concepts for those as well.

The How

With the underlying graphic design concept established, it was time to execute.

There were a series of different screens that needed to be made. The homepage was the main feature, but there were product pages, customer service and FAQs, an about page, and some more. So I started mocking things up!

If these mocks look incomplete, it's because they are! I left some of the details out of these mockups intentionally because I knew I would be building it, and I would just put in the details as I built up the pages!

Conclusions and take-aways

The site took a bit more work to complete. I was not only doing the design work, but also the front-end development. But all the hard work has paid off! Since launching the new website, we’ve seen traffic grow and sales increase! We've added some big name companies as customers and things have looked quite good. Having an improved web presence has been a useful evangelism tool, especially for a product like this. General ad banners or Google ad campaigns don’t really work that well (we tried) since people don’t generally search for tools like this. So it is more important to develop a good presence where people can find you first. We have been slowly growing customers (enterprise buying cycles take time) but we are poised for continued growth and things are looking healthy!

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