A beast of an application

Realizing a business strategy through a better interface with Borealis.

Borealis, a software company for managing environmentally responsible oil and gas projects, discovered something that could've threatened the company's plans for global expansion — its own application. So CTO Philippe Hammond and CEO Jules Paquette turned to ZURB to make the application less of a beast to use.

Data reveals core problems in the app

Customers were struggling with Borealis' application. They found it harder and harder to perform day-to-day tasks. Why? The interface was a tangle of various database tables that stored various customer data — one database added atop another. Customers could no longer navigate it easily, impacting their workflow.

As a result, sales people were resorting to making additional promises to sell the application. Along the way, ZURB discovered that the sales promises created so many one-off engineering solutions that maintenance and scale were becoming issues that would bring any growth spurt to a grinding halt. Worse, we learned after interviewing customers directly that customer engagement was even lower than had been previously thought.

Organizing the app around customers

Thinking of the user first to build a great app.

The common denominator for the entire application were the people and stakeholders who benefited from Borealis' mission. They were the spark that would ignite the flame of our work.

Sketches & Wireframes We produced a series of sketches that led us to detailed wireframes to fully describe the application.

We explored reorganizing the app around people's profiles, based on customer feedback. This was essential to solving the interaction problem, but also better fulfill Borealis' mission of social environmental responsibility. There was also another benefit.

Focusing on customers created a new opportunity to sell application "modules" in preset packages of mini-apps. And that's when we had an aha moment — we could use a sidebar navigation and a contextual upsell with each module. As Jules, Borealis' CEO put it, "This can totally change the way we sell our products to our customers by giving us opportunities to resell additional modules once we have them."

A better, stronger application

The final result is beautiful and more intuitive web application.

With thorough investigation of the problem, we were able to set up Borealis with the tools they needed to make their production app better and stronger.

Using sketches and paper prototypes, we were able to fully lay out an end-to-end redesign of the application. This allowed us to put our designs in front of customers and get direct feedback from them.

We also created a visual direction that would allow Borealis to stand out from their competition. But they didn't want to deviate from their established marketing. So we explored various options, then focused on three areas of the app that were at the root of their indecision: backgrounds, feeds and default layouts.

All the patterns to build with

A digital style guide to build out the rest of the site.

Style Guide A cohesive style guide helps bring all the pieces together.

We created a well-documented, interactive style guide. The style guide provided them with tools like a layout grid overlay and fully-coded reusable patterns for any page of the app. The style guide and other elements we produced allowed them to build the production app and get going on a new potential pricing structure

In the end, the application became less of a beast. Structuring the app around their customers through profiles gave Borealis the means to better serve them and their own mission.

This can totally change the way we sell our products to our customers by giving us opportunities to resell additional modules once we have them. — Jules Paquette, Borealis’ CEO

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