As a web designer at Civo, it’s my job to make the site look pretty and functional as well as giving the user the best experience possible. But as a designer a lot of the jargon used in and around Civo is sometimes lost on me.
My background as a designer has always been surrounded by hosting platforms, domain names and email, but normally these products are aimed at your every day person trying to get a website up for the first time. This means the marketing department break down the technology into simple terms, which is great for me. Because Civo is aimed at developers and not your everyday Joe looking to get their first website up and running, we like to focus on the technology itself and put that at the forefront.
This becomes slightly tricky for me when it comes to designing for features and working out priorities and the best way for the information that needs to be displayed. Luckily, we’re a close team and this becomes a great chance for me to learn about not only our platform, but about the technology, when I have to sit down with a developer and ask, “Why does an instance do this”, or “Load Balancers… what and why do I need one of those?”.
The users experience is something we’re really passionate about at Civo. Keeping things simple, so things would be where you’d expect them and allowing our products speak for themselves. But this is where design and functionality can sometimes clash. Whilst a flashy sales page looks great and entices the user, the product is what keeps the user happy. Our dashboard is the main gateway to our product and from the start we wanted to make sure that this was slick and simple without compromising usability.
An example of this is our instance index page above, you'll notice we like to keep things minimal. This is to avoid the page becoming a strain on the eye and helps avoid big elements distracting you. We use colour to draw your eye to an action but it shouldn't take over the page.
Whilst this page is designed to give you an overview of an all your instances, we didn't want it to just be a standard table. Speaking to the team here, I quickly realised that most of the work on an instance would be done via command line. So to make this page more functional, we added quick action buttons so that developers could simply restart multiple instances in seconds, or shut down instances that aren't currently in use, without clicking into the instance itself. This allows the page to look neat and tidy whilst also giving the developers the tools they need.
A learning experience for me has been to accept that a design that looks pretty, isn’t always going to be the best for the user. Developers have different requirements to your every day user so putting myself into that frame of mind has been both interesting and challenging. I’m not saying I understand cloud servers and could tell you how to get a Kubernetes cluster up and running (I know a man who can though (Blog Post - Rails hosting in the 21st century), but developing an understanding of our product has been key to a successful relationship between design and development.