A better user experience is coming to Simul
A brand new user interface is coming to Simul over the coming days. In this article, we'll outline what's changing and why.
Over the past year, we’ve been on a mission to speak to as many of our users as possible, and have to date amassed over 100 conversations with new and old users alike.
Some of the most frequent pieces of feedback we heard were ‘Simul is great once you get to know it, but it can be difficult at first’ or ‘I love Simul, but I’m struggling to get my colleagues to use it’
These two pieces of feedback led us to reassess the user interface of Simul, and I’m excited to announce that after a lot of design, development and iteration we’re launching our new user interface!
Although the product will now look a little bit different, the functionality and overall usability largely remains the same.
Here’s an overview of the key changes:
When it comes to navigating throughout the different sections of the product, the old User Interface largely relied on a vertical navigation. The key sections of the product were accessible via icons that ran down the left side of the interface.
This was fine once you were familiar with Simul, but when you were initially trying to figure it out it presented a few issues:
- It hid really important parts of the product, such as adding members to your document, behind small icons.
- It gave importance to features that we found to be rarely used and not really a core part of how people collaborate on documents using Simul (such as Tasks)
So, we re-designed the navigation to bring out the more important and frequently used parts of the product (like adding members) and hide away the less frequently used parts (Tasks, Copies, etc)
We also tried to add a bit of logical structure to the navigation:
- Things that apply at the account-level, like Settings and Notifications, appear in the blue bar at the top.
- Things that apply at the document-level appear in the secondary white bar, like adding members, managing tasks, etc
- Things that apply at the version-level, like naming a version, publishing a version, etc sit alongside that version in the main section of the interface.
Some subtle changes to user flows
There’s a concept in User Interface design called ‘User Flows’. It’s basically the series of steps someone has to go through in your product to complete a common task (like uploading a document).
We reviewed all of the common user flows in the product to make sure they were as optimised as they could be, and we actually made subtle changes to a lot of them.
Most changes you likely won’t even notice, but combined they should make the product much easier to use.
One of the more significant ones that you might notice though, was adding the ability to name a version and leave a comment on it when importing a version from a file.
We realised that the main reason people were importing versions was because someone had made changes to the document outside Simul, so it made sense to enable you to give it a name (e.g. Joel’s Edits) and leave a comment (e.g. Joel added the Results section) within the Import a Version flow.
More modern, on-brand look
If you’ve visited our marketing website recently, you would have noticed that it got a significant overhaul at the end of last year.
This was one step in a larger overhaul of the Simul brand, and so we wanted to take this opportunity to bring the product into line with that. We changed the font and some of the other colours and styles used throughout the product to better match our overall brand, with the goal of creating a more seamless experience across all the ways you interact with Simul (product, website, emails, etc)
This is probably the biggest change we’ve made to the user interface of Simul since we launched the product, but it’s certainly not the end.
As we launch new features (you can read about some of the things we’re working on this year here), we’ll continue to refine the user interface of the product to make it as easy to use as possible.
Similarly, all of these changes have been the direct result of feedback from you, our awesome users. So as the new interface goes live over the next few days, please feel free to send your thoughts, your likes, your dislikes, etc to [email protected].
We genuinely love hearing from you, and we’ll read and respond to every email. The feedback you give us helps us make the product better for you, so it’s a win win!
Ben & Aaron
Co-founders of Simul Docs