In 2015 I spent a year working in product development at Omniata, a San Francisco-Helsinki-based analytics company. I was leading the design work in the company of around two dozen people (at its peak), both for marketing and product.
I had the privilege of working on an interesting, very complex analytics product for serious use cases of big-name customers. I enjoyed working closely with our growth and customer success team members to bring a more all-encompassing service design mentality to the company in order to serve our users better throughout the entire customer life cycle.
Home page of Omniata's Support Portal with categorisation and search.
Omniata is a complex tool and our job in product development was to teach our users to not just use the product, but also about the domain. Each user's journey with us was a long one, from first sales pitches and marketing materials all the way to our analytics panel and customer support materials. When you're serving a complex tool that your users invest in learning, you should also invest in providing learning materials, and consistent service communication in all user touch points is absolutely essential.
To deliver better expert material to our users, I worked based on our customer success team's insights and constant customer feedback to design and develop a searchable support portal that houses all our guides, tutorials and FAQs. The messaging of various product and domain concepts was aligned to our revamped marketing materials and public-facing web site, which I also designed.
Unfortunately our users were also legitimately struggling simply due to product quality and usability issues, as was our market credibility and our aging frontend tech. In a typical startup growth story, Omniata never had a focused designer to keep the UI patterns, IA, and visual design of an evolving product in shape – not to mention design scalable UI solutions to house a staggering number of very low-level features. So I changed that.
Omniata's refreshed query builder tool.
I chose a bottom-up strategy to make meaningful progress and learn more about the tech as well as user flows of the expert tool I had still spent relatively little time on. The main reason was that we could identify so many inconsistencies, UI bugs, broken layouts, badly handled error cases and lack of any onboarding patterns that by simply implementing best practices would yield significant return of investment.
And it did. I refactored all our Rails and Angular templates and rewrote the entire SCSS codebase to deliver a meaningful, big design refresh and bring our aging main product closer to standards. While the technical challenges were quite significant and prevented many ideal, modern UI solutions from being implemented, the reaction from customers, marketing and other developers was very positive. In addition to the technical improvements, the product now has navigation patterns and visual tools in place that will scale to support new features. In addition, Omniata now has a unique look that is not dictated by Bootstrap.
Omniata was sold to King in 2016.