The Challenge

The Center for Governmental Research (CGR) created a powerful cost-benefit analysis tool for economic development professionals. InformAnalytics enables municipal officials to make responsible, data-driven decisions for their local community and government.

However, the outdated interface and lackluster experience was making it difficult for the CGR team to market and sell the product to yield sufficient growth and ROI. Their goal of expanding into new regions across the United States to increase revenue proved challenging.

CGR’s InformAnalytics tool needed a new interface, brand, and marketing website to expand their business and better meet the needs of their customers.

Identifying Weak Areas

My first step in any project is to identify the weak areas. This establishes where my focus and attention will yield the most positive, impactful results. I quickly realized that the marketing website was sporting an outdated and unprofessional logo, color scheme, and design. This caused prospective customers to question the quality of the product, which was hindering their ability to meet sales goals.

(The old logo and marketing website home page)

From there it became immediately clear that the main product interface was also clunky and visually outdated. The intricately detailed reports were very difficult to read and understand. The entire brand needed a makeover to better serve the customers needs.

Since the product and marketing website were staying the same from a structural standpoint, there was no need to waste time creating a sitemap or flowchart. In fact, I completely skipped the wireframing process for this project to save time and meet the fast-approaching deadline.

(The outdated product interface was clunky and difficult to understand)
Updating the Brand

Despite being anxious to start designing a new interface, I knew InformAnalytics was in desperate need of a new logo to serve as a foundation their brand overhaul. My goal was to recycle some of the elements from the old logo while making the brand appear more trustworthy, reliable, recognizable, and professional.

I also used clean, uppercase typography in two different weights to create a strong anchor for the icon and optional tagline. I adopted the color scheme from CGR’s main company website to fit the product redesign which helped associate the product with its owner.

The “Powered by CGR” tagline was designed to be optional and can be used as needed throughout various applications. The bar graphic icon quickly indicates the type of experience someone can expect when using the product and visually associates the word “analytics” with the rest of the brand.

The logo also works well on a variety of colored backgrounds and in a wide variety of sizes making it a versatile marketing asset for the CGR team.

(The final logo on a dark blue background)
Redesigning the Product

The login screen really sets the tone for the user and indicates what type of experience they’ll have when using the product. Unfortunately, login screens are commonly overlooked and under-designed. It was important to keep this screen simple and welcoming while setting the tone for the entire product experience.

As I move into the core screens, I began to recycle some existing ideas from the original UI such as the persistent sidebar navigation, which worked well. However, the data entry process needed to be much simpler and more friendly for the user.

(A simple login screen to welcome the user to the product)
Simple Data Entry

The majority of a users time is spent entering the data necessary to generate a powerful report. With no less than five pages of data to enter, it was critical that the user never felt overwhelmed by what they saw on any given screen.

When creating a new project, I wanted to get the user started as quickly as possible and make them feel like the data entry process wasn’t going to be a time-consuming hassle. I was able to accomplish this by simply isolating 2 critical questions to their own entry screen.

All the user is required to do is name their project and select what type of report they’d like to create. This is especially beneficial to the marketing team when presenting the ease-of-use to a prospective customer.

(A simple, welcoming screen to get a user started when creating a new project)
Smooth, Conversational Design

From the very first screen, I wanted the user to feel like they were actually having an intelligent conversation with their screen by asking them questions in an interview format similar to TurboTax.

Since there is so much data entry involved in a cost-benefit analysis, I re-phrased the questions to be asked in a simple yes or no “interview” format whenever possible. Each question has a default value to minimize the time and effort it takes to enter the required data.

The questions are also uniquely numbered so the user can glance at the page and know how much work is ahead of them. They can also use the numbers as a reference when talking to the CGR support team. This is done using an HTML ordered list so that CGR never has to manually update the question numbers.

Educating the User

When the page loads, each question fades in sequentially as to welcome the content onto the page. This makes the user feel as if the interface knows this is a lot of work and is doing it’s best to make it more relaxing.

Below each question is a mandatory description that replaced the old “help” icon beside each question. This allows the user to read the instructions for each question in context and minimizes the amount of support calls CGR receives.

When a user moves on to a new question, a small red progress bar grows across the top of the screen before fading away. This informs the user that their information is safe and they can leave the page without losing their progress.

The navigation encourages the user to continue on to the next section at the top and bottom of each page.

Beautiful, Printer-Friendly Reports

Once the data entry process is complete, users can simply continue on to see their customized report generated instantly. The reports are completely optimized for screen and print mediums and automatically update when changes are made on any of the previous screens.

When printing a report, a special cover page is added with the customers name and logo. Page breaks are automatically added, shadows are replaced with thin borders, font sizes are decreased, and the entire layout is optimized for print.

A New Marketing Strategy

The old marketing website made a great attempt at speaking the wide range of relevant audiences. However, it was lacking content and the design hindered many visitors from exploring further. Accessing an interactive demo was also a confusing, cumbersome task.

To beat the competition, the CGR team decided to publicly offer access to a free, interactive demo of the InformAnalytics tool. Instead of restricting the content to the home page, I designed a features page that allowed CGR to showcase the power of their product, minimize questions from potential customers, and reduce their time spent selling the product over the phone.

(The home and features pages of the new marketing website)
The Results

Now that the project is complete, the CGR team can launch a new version of InformAnalytics that is sure the blow the competition away and generate more revenue than before. With a strong, recognizable new brand, CGR can more easily market and sell their product to economic development professional across the country instead of only in New York state.

A superior user experience will keep users coming back to CGR year after year and increase the word-of-mouth referrals that help drive sales. As the data and analytics are collected in the coming months, I will update this case study to show how the improved designs and UX strategy turned a product that was destined for termination into a valuable business asset.

Disclaimer: The thoughts expressed in this case study are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the client and their business.