Earlier this month, Accellion introduced a new user interface (UI) for its content collaboration platform, kiteworks. We spoke with Jeremy Fong, a Director in Accellion’s Product Management group, about the refresh, some of the new features and how the new UI has been received.
What prompted the refresh?
There wasn’t one single event that prompted the decision to refresh the UI. The decision essentially stemmed from a single question: is kiteworks what our customers expect from a UI? kiteworks has been in production for a little over 3 years now. With the understanding that a lot of UI frameworks change over time, we felt that the timing was right for a significant update.
Customer feedback played a critical part in the refresh. We’re constantly speaking with our customers in order to gauge their experience with kiteworks. This entails a lot of benchmarking and measuring to see how customers are using the platform. Those findings are what drove the decision making process and defined a clear end goal: how do we enhance kiteworks to continue to drive adoption, both among users and more broadly within the customer organization?
After extensive feedback and testing, we chose to focus on areas where we differentiate but not change how customers use kiteworks. Our customers primarily use kiteworks to share sensitive content with external partners to ensure data security and regulatory compliance and we decided to focus on and enhance these key tasks.
As a result, we strove to make kiteworks an easy solution to find, access, and share files.
The challenge with any product that emphasizes security is finding a balance with usability. We can’t make it hard for users or else they won’t use the product. And you really only have one chance to get this right. So, striking a balance between usability and security was our goal and this new UI does that very well.
So what’s new in the new UI?
Ultimately, we simplified the layout to make kiteworks even easier to use. I think customers will notice right away that the new layout is more simple and clean. We adopted a white background and dedicated more real estate to our key differentiators like secure file transfer, what we call “Send File,” as these are the tools that people use our product a lot for. We also updated all of the iconography for files and folders so you can identify documents more easily, including differentiating between shared and private folders and Microsoft office documents.
Users will also notice the navigation has improved considerably. Connectors to on-premises and cloud-based ECMs are now more accessible, requiring less searching and clicks. We want users to be more productive and a big part of that entails getting to the files they need quickly.
Did you make any changes to the performance or add any new features or capabilities?
Absolutely. We’re always optimizing as we add and enhance capabilities. Last year, we invested heavily in seamless integration with Microsoft and Office 365. We’ve taken the best productivity suite on the market and made it even easier to use. And more secure. With kiteworks, users can access, edit, and securely share any Microsoft file, whether it’s stored on SharePoint, a CIFS share, Box, OneDrive, Documentum, Dropbox or other systems while demonstrating compliance with industry regulations. It’s important to note that this can be done from a single interface. Also, the experience looks like email and works like email, complete with Send File and Reply capabilities, but the big distinction is security. Sending files with kiteworks is like secure email without any file size limitations.
Another performance enhancement is Search. Obviously, being able to find content quickly is critical to being productive, and this is hard to do when you have files stored in lots of different on-premises and cloud-based repositories like SharePoint Online, OneDrive, OpenText, Google Drive and the other systems I mentioned.
There are many more features but the common thread for this update is usability. We’ve made kiteworks more responsive to enhance the overall usability.
What is your favorite feature of the new UI?
The improvements to Search are notable. Search is a big problem – how do you find what you’re looking for easily? End users are hard wired for immediate gratification. The immediacy of search – finding a document by using keywords in the file name and being able to do so quickly is huge. With the new UI, we have optimized the Search function. As an example, when you search for a file, the results appear dynamically. Not only that, but we also have full text search which will look at the content in a document and retrieve results based on that search criteria.
How has customer feedback been thus far?
Customer feedback so far has been fantastic. Every time we shared the prototype, every customer – literaly every single one, asked when they could get full access. That says a lot.
We launched an early access release asking for honest feedback and it was overwhelmingly positive. And trust me, product managers don’t want just the good news.
Based on all of the positive feedback, we have since rolled out the new UI to the broader kiteworks customer base and continue to be pleased with the results. We’re really proud of this achievement.