In early 2019, we will roll out a redesigned SpotX Publisher Platform with a new user interface and reorganized navigation. This is the first significant step we are taking to make managing both inventory and demand on SpotX easier for our publishers.
We sat down with Paul Radliff, product design lead at SpotX, to learn more about the new SpotX Publisher Platform design and how we hope to evolve and improve the user experience of the platform in the future.
What is the overall design strategy for the SpotX Publisher Platform?
The new SpotX Publisher Platform design strategy is focused around our UX design principles, which were introduced in the spring of 2018. These principles promote design thinking across the organization and aid both design and engineering to collaborate in the creation of a faster, more efficient platform for our users. We have worked hard to build a better code base, reusable design components, a modern frame, efficiencies in the overall user experience, and a unified look and feel. In following these principles, we hope to set the stage for a streamlined design and development process.
Our design strategy will also provide SpotX the ability to adapt and scale our product faster. We can now respond even quicker to user needs because of our updated design process. Our goal is to enable our development teams to build and launch new features in shorter cycles. And, most important of all, we can have a stronger focus on the usability of the product. This means our product teams can spend more time connecting with our customers to build better quality features faster and continue to place SpotX as an industry-leading video monetization platform.
The SpotX Platform is about to make some significant changes in the design of the platform. What is driving these changes?
One of the largest driving forces behind the initiative to overhaul the design is the complexity in navigating our platform. Many of our tools and features have been organized organically over time, which is common as a successful product grows. When we are evolving a product and addressing user needs, new features and functionality have to go somewhere in a product. What happens over time is the slow layering of functionality and navigation that fits a specific need at a specific point in time. These added layers begin to add complexity and intricacies that almost always need to be evaluated later in a product’s life. SpotX is now at a juncture where we can step back and look at our platform more holistically. Both engineering and design are collaborating to evaluate how we can make the platform more efficient. A common topic has been around our navigation and its inability to scale over time, as well as the growing discord in its organization.
Since navigation is so critical to our customers’ success, many of the significant changes we are making have grown out of this effort to improve it. We can now create consistency in various areas of the platform. Design can also review our taxonomy and groupings of content to create a more intuitive flow throughout the platform.
What is the most significant upcoming change in the platform?
The most significant change to the platform will be to the navigation. We are introducing a new side navigation, which attempts to address many of the challenges we’ve learned about from our users. The new navigation will provide better structure for locating access points to content, tools, and functionality throughout the platform. It will also provide a more consistent, unified interaction for users as they look for a singular point of reference when navigating around our platform. What’s more, as the navigation grows, the new sidebar design allows our design and engineering teams to add functionality and features faster by eliminating large amounts of guesswork around placement.
Some beneficial side effects of this large change include:
- Additional screen real estate in the main content view
- Supportive iconography for quick scanning of labels
- Affordance of sub-navigation to allow for platform expansion
What are the key benefits of making these types of changes?
Making radical changes to the platform is more about the opportunity to improve an already valuable product. Each change is vetted for efficiency gains and consistency within the new experience. As we scrutinize these changes for value and usability, design and engineering become increasingly confident that we are layering on new or improved features in the platform with a sense of purpose.
Design is in the constant pursuit of solving business problems and user needs. Every change we make is an attempt to improve the experience of our platform. It may seem like an obvious statement, but feature regression is a common problem when it comes to UX within the product. The navigation change we are making is an indication of where we are headed as we create design enhancements to manage the complexity of creating campaigns, managing creative, upholding brand safety, or increasing revenue for our customers.
We want our product to be engaging to our customers. Our desire is that users enjoy their experience with the SpotX platform and it’s not seen as a just a business tool. Any change we make should support our design principles by empowering our customers, working efficiently and consistently, and projecting a level of sophistication and polish software users have grown to expect. All of this ultimately helps with customer satisfaction and retention through their ability to easily navigate and operate our platform to streamline demand and maximize ad revenue.
Will this change impact future features and changes in the platform?
Short answer is, yes. The SpotX Product Design Team chose to tackle the navigational user experience challenge because it gives us the ability to add larger features to our product. More importantly, it allows users to efficiently search and explore the functionality and features we already have in the platform.
Scalability is extremely important when it comes to working on a mature product. If we cannot scale and add features to the SpotX Platform efficiently, we have to work harder to be competitive in an industry that thrives on competition. The change in navigation has already paved the way for new features that are being introduced to the platform, and we will continue to push forward with more robust features around inventory forecasting, reporting, and campaign creation. The SpotX Product Design Team is excited to take these challenges on, and we look forward to introducing more features in the future.
As the SpotX Product Design Team continues to work on the design system and component library, we will be adding entirely new experiences to our platform. For example, we are working on a new contextual side panel as a secondary experience to display tertiary data, reducing the need for modal windows that take you out of current context.
A new set of visualization widgets will be introduced as part of our robust analytics and reporting initiative. Users can also expect to see a new suite of dashboards that will turn the entire experience of the platform on its head. In these new dashboards, we want to drive a new navigation paradigm by allowing users to navigate to relevant content by interacting with any dashboard widget or panel. In time, we hope to create dashboard experiences with a holistic view into various compilations and dimensions of data in a way that positions the SpotX Platform as a true trading and video advertising analytics platform.
Paul Radliff, Product Design Lead