From “Good” to “Incredible”: the SAP Jam Evolution UX
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…”
~Teddy Roosevelt, 26th US President
Incredible product experiences aren’t born overnight
Incredible product experiences are not born in a laboratory by following strict process to arrive at some final, predictable state. Incredible product experiences are the embodiment of the enthusiasm and passion of the people that built them, and the lengths that team behind them went to in order to get the experience just right. And incredible product experiences are a journey of many steps, sometimes into new and unfamiliar territory. This is true of all things that possess an enviable design quality. They are familiar, intuitive, they evoke a deeply positive emotional response, and they are truly delightful to use. And without question, they took trial, error, retrial, re-error, and lots of sleepless nights to get just right. But incredible product experiences build customer loyalty, trust, and end-user satisfaction. And in the modern world of cloud software, incredible product experiences drive end-user adoption and renewal, while driving down total cost of ownership and maintenance for both customers and the company that stands behind its products.
Introducing EvoUX: evolution with a little revolution
I am truly excited to introduce, on behalf of the entire SAP Jam development, user experience, and product management team, a highly evolved user experience — code-named “EvoUX.”
What we’ve managed to achieve with the recent November 20th, 2014 release of SAP Jam is truly an evolutionary step in the usability and user experience — it is something that will instantly feel familiar, yet modern. It is more aligned to the SAP design specifications for the SAP cloud portfolio, and introduces hundreds of significant improvements that we are sure our customers will love.
Our customers guided us on this journey
Our customers and end-users were the driving force behind all the changes we designed. Most teams spend months, if not years, trying to study and re-study design challenges. With a tiger team of just 4 designers and product managers, we moved at lightning speed and managed to interview a total of over 20 customers and 80 end-users, including many in deep one-on-one sessions, in just 2 months. We interviewed everyone from line of business leaders managing large teams, IT leaders managing large software deployments, to everyday business users who used the product as direct consumers. We could not deliver the quantity and quality of improvements to the product were it not for our SAP Jam Customer Steering Group, which now includes over 100 customers with whom we meet on a quarterly basis. They provide insight into every aspect of how the product is helping them reach their business goals, where their challenges are in adoption and usage, and where we could innovate with new capabilities aimed at solving business process challenges. Thank you to each customer who spent time with us during this process to provide us with their insight and feedback.
No detail was too small to overlook
The level of attention to detail that went into each improvement in EvoUX was staggering and unprecedented in the history of releases we’ve done with SAP Jam. Even the smallest details were reviewed, often over many successive iterations, and many important concepts were considered along the way, including:
- We knew from talking to customers that SAP Jam is often used in conjunction with webinars and internal meetings, where a user is sharing a screen in front of an audience. We made sure that each of the design improvements increased visibility and fidelity of the experience on a webinar. We also made sure that the same screens looked good when being projected using an overhead projector.
- We made sure to look at readable line lengths, and we found thatsome of the original lengths of key lines, like feed updates, spanned too long and made the text difficult to read easily.
- We made each individual feed post more readable by making it a visually distinct card, making the feed much easier to consume.
- We added touches and elements of warmth and humanity — including small things, like rounding out the profile pictures in feed updates and posts.
- We made sure that common actions were easily accessible and visible, such as looking at tasks or accessing notifications.
- We increased the size and prominence of the search box to make it easier for people to locate, and we fixed the header to the top of the page so that performing a search or accessing a common action did not require scrolling back to the top of the page.
- We improved the visibility and functionality of feed filters — some customers commented that they had no idea some of these features even existed in the product.
- We made the page transition effect much smoother, with a softer fade in / fade out effect.
- We flattened the user experience, and removed unnecessary and visually distracting dropped-shadows.
- We made sure that we were consistently using easily readable fonts and font sizes.
- We added lots of minor improvements, such as sharing a feed post between groups and moving groups to sub-Groups.
… Plus literally hundreds of additional considerations went into the changes and improvements, all aimed at making SAP Jam more intuitive, enjoyable to use, and requiring less training and support costs for our customers.
Nothing worth doing well is easy
These changes certainly did not come without a tremendous amount of work from everyone in the SAP Jam development, user experience, and product management team. I wanted to recognize the extraordinary team effort required to make this release a success. Without a doubt, all change is hard. And changing an entire user experience, overhauling it with hundreds of usability improvements, is no small effort. Most teams would buckle and crumble under the pressure to make this happen. But I am proud to say that I have the pleasure of working with a group of extremely talented, enthusiastic, passionate, and skilled colleagues that evolved the user experience of an entire application in a single 3-month release. And the result clearly shows in the incredible product experience we’ve developed.
Want to learn more?
If you’d like to learn more about the recent November update, please visit the SAP Jam Help Portal at http://help.sap.com/sapjam. You’ll find all the release notes, administrator guide, user guide, developer documentation, and mobile guide as well.