Document Management System
From humble beginnings in a suburban garage, Cleanawater now leads the Australian market in water treatment system design, manufacture, installation and servicing. Starting out as an oil water separator manufacturer, the business now also offer wash bay, rainwater harvesting, pump stations, skimmers and chemical control solutions – both off-the-shelf and bespoke. Cleanawater proudly boast household names like Boeing, VISY, Toll and the Department of Defence as long-term clients.
The concept of the Document Management System (DMS) was presented to the client to solve issues around the management, display and accessibility of their technical documents online, and the ability for other organisations to be able to subscribe to a service in order to show that content on their own mediums. My first objective was to build the user interface for the end-user of the DMS, which would be a simple, utilitarian and device-agnostic solution. Secondly, I designed the administration area which would be used by the client to manage their entities.
Identifying common problems
The client was originally providing all of their documentation through their main website, and we understood that the existing platform was being used by the client (particularly when out on work-sites), their existing customers, and also prospective customers looking for industry/product information. Though we had a relatively clear picture as to what needed to be improved, we had to dig a little deeper in order to really understand our users pain points. After looking at web analytics and interviewing stakeholders, we discovered issues with navigation, file size and organisation.
Designing user-friendly search
After we established that search would be the primary function for the DMS, my first goal was to design the search bar to be clearly visible and quickly recognisable, as this would offer users the fastest route to discovery. Since the application would be very content-heavy, it was critical that we minimised user effort and maximised ease of use. We did this by providing auto-suggestions and blended search, which would limit the amount of data entry required and provide immediate results for both folders and files. We also provided the option for users to search within a specific folder, or all folders within the system.
There were two use cases for the DMS; users that know exactly what they're looking for, and users that will want the ability to explore data. Though we prioritised search, it was important that we facilitated these particular users. The main consideration was that we would not be responsible for organising the document architecture of the DMS, so the interface would need to be as simple as possible when navigating through multiple levels on different devices. I approached this by introducing list and grid views, as well as icons that clearly differentiated folders and file types.
The administration area
The next stage was to design the administration interface for managing the various entities of the DMS, including companies, users, documents and subscribers. The main challenge here was to build a simple and clear interface that would give the client enough control over the system whilst reducing the chance for error or mismanagement. To further support the client, we created a user manual for administrators to use as a reference if required.