Altis: The next-generation Digital Experience Platform

Product Design Lead, UX/UI, Creative Direction

The product

Altis is a highly flexible and extensible enterprise platform rooted in open source, that provides tech teams with a robust framework and ecosystem that enables them to build tools for digital teams so they can create, manage and measure the impact of their content.

The ever-evolving digital landscape is forcing businesses to stay competitive and up-to-date with the latest trends and regulations. Human Made, creators of Altis, which in the past 10 years offered hosting, development and consultancy services to enterprises all over the world, know very well the scale of these challenges. Altis, as a subscription-based product and full-service solution, gives those companies the peace of mind they need to focus on what they can do best: innovate and create great content and seamless, omnichannel experiences.

Users

Altis targets writers, editors and marketers that use the platform daily to tell stories or test strategies. Our secondary users are the developers that use the Altis framework to extend or customise the details of those capabilities. Making it extremely easy for them to familiarise with Altis and get started has been one of our core objectives.

I’ve been in charge of four main aspects of this product:

Discovery & Research

Observation

I had the chance to spend time inside a well-known newsroom observing how tech team and journalists/editors collaborate. This front-line experience, face-to-face with ideal clients is what I found most useful when discussing Altis’ features with the rest of the team.

For example, the editors I talked to longed for a unified suite of tools, an intuitive interface, an easy way to assign tasks to other team members and the autonomy to make small changes to media assets on the fly (like resizing an image, changing the crop, etc.). The newsroom’s tech team, instead, really needed a strong and reliable UX framework to quickly ship functionality requested by the editorial team in a way that is always consistent and cohesive with the rest of their tools.

Personas & Empathy Maps

As soon as we conceived the idea of a platform, we worked with Personas and Empathy Maps to identify our core users, reflect on their needs and empathise with their concerns. We never considered this as a one-off activity, it’s important to constantly validate and update those profiles with new learnings. For this reason, we’ve always kept this work very lean, using docs and spreadsheets.

User Journeys Maps

B2B User Journey Maps can be much more complex than B2C. While for the latter you can generally focus on one single flow for the main user, B2B products and Platforms especially, require you to focus on multiple experiences with many more variables. It’s a great amount of work that needs a smooth internal collaboration. Therefore, whilst other teams focused on a customer’s touch-points with our Sales department, I was in charge of analysing the journey of a developer that gets to know Altis for the first time and needs to implement it at its current company.

Interviews

We arranged periodic interviews with relevant stakeholders to get their insights on the work in progress. This was very useful to test/validate our hypothesis and take back that information to the rest of the team.

Surveys

Surveys can be a great, inexpensive way to test a design direction. When researching the best creative route for Altis, for example, my team created four style tiles and we run a survey that involved a small, selected pool of ‘ideal’ users that told us which approach resonated the most with them, and why.

Design & Product Management

Interactive Prototypes

Interactive Prototypes are one of the tools we use to share and validate ideas for our product features. Part of my job included creating and maintaining a UI kit that would allow us to quickly and easily mock-up any feature. I would normally work in autonomy and regularly present prototypes to the rest of the team to gather their feedback and, whenever possible, I’d do the same with our clients.

Altis' WordPress-based CMS

Altis' WordPress-based CMS

Altis Cloud control panel

Altis Cloud control panel

Example of individual feature (Publication Checklist)

Example of individual feature (Publication Checklist)

Workshops

I facilitated many remote workshops (e.g.: Lean UX Canvas) using tools like Zoom and Miro, to come up with our own Product Design Principles. It’s been a great experience to formulate our internal ‘rules’ so that we can all align and commit to building great, ethical products!

Feature Spec Docs

During the design process, we found that we needed one hub for all teams to retrieve information about a specific product feature, including initial User Stories, demo videos, marketing pitch and details about its actual performance. I created a process and a framework for the rest of the Product Team to spec out features from inception to post-delivery.

Download my Feature Spec template.

Outcome

We launched the new brand and a new, refined product on schedule in May ‘19. Our existing clients and prospects are currently responding positively as Altis keeps being shaped around their workflows. The real challenge this project represented for me was executing an important shift from agency to product company mentality that was uncharted territory for Human Made – and I got the chance to play an important role as Product Designer and Best Practices advocate when Product, Sales and Marketing struggled to cooperate.

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