As designers, we want to work on problems that are intriguing and “game-changing”. All too often, we limit the “game-changing” category to a handful of consumer-facing mobile apps and social networks. The truth is: enterprise software gives designers a unique set of complex problems to solve. Enterprise platforms usually have a savvy set of users with very specific needs — needs that, when addressed, often affect a business’s bottom line.
One of my first projects as a product designer here at Instacart was to redesign elements of our inventory management tool for retailers (e.g. Kroger, Publix, Safeway, Costco, etc.). As I worked on the project more and more, I learned that Enterprise tools are full of gnarly complexity and often present opportunities to practice deep thought. As Jonathan, one of our current enterprise platform designers said —
The greater the complexity, the greater the opportunity to find elegance.
As we scoped the project we found that the existing product wasn’t enabling retailers to manage their inventories as concisely and efficiently as they could. We found retailer users were relying on customer support to help carry out smaller tasks. Our goal with the redesign was to build and deliver a better experience that would enable retailers to manage their inventory more easily and grow their business with Instacart.
The first step in redesigning was to understand the flow of the current product. We mapped out the journey of a partner going through the tool and spoke with the PMs to figure out what we could incorporate into the roadmap.
Once we had a good understanding of the lay of the land, engineering resources, and retailers’ needs, we got into the weeds. Here are a few improvements we made to the tool —
We used the department tiles feature from our customer-facing product as the catalog’s landing page (1.0 above). With this, we worked to:
Our solution simplified a few things:
While it’s great that the older Item Details page was partitioned into sections, from an IA perspective, it offered challenges for two reasons:
To address this, we broke down the sections into what’s truly necessary. From there, we identified four main categories of information that the data fell under:
Sources now pop up on the top right of the input fields so the editor knows who last made changes.
Seeking validation through numbers is always fantastic. We did a small beta launch of this product and saw an increase in weekly engagement and decrease in support requests.
I learned that designing enterprise products helps you extend yourself as a visual designer and deep product thinker. I approached this project as an opportunity to break down complex interactions and bring visual elegance to a product through thoughtful design. To this day, it remains one of my favorite projects at Instacart as it stretched my thinking and enhanced my visual design chops. Most importantly, it taught me to look at Enterprise tools in a new light; now when I look at them, I am able to appreciate the complexity within