As any web host who has tackled a website redesign knows, it is a long process with no shortage of challenges. But for all the hard work, a new website can really help refresh a brand and attract new customers.
For existing customers, the website isn’t as important. The feature that they interact with on a daily basis is the admin panel.
Media Temple, the Los Angeles-based web host that was acquired by GoDaddy last year, not only launched its redesigned website in January, but also worked on overhauling its Account Center. On Tuesday Media Temple re-launched its responsive Account Center to address some of its customers’ (and employees) pain points.
“Pain is all relative. For those of us who were working [at Media Temple]…it’s no secret that the account center was set up almost a decade ago at this point,” Jon Setzen, creative director at Media Temple says. “Systems change and there were a lot of things in the account center that didn’t change. For my team, for the daily maintenance and updates it was definitely kind of a slow process and we really needed to modernize that.”
Setzen says that at this point, there are hundreds of thousands of people using Media Temple’s account center all the time – including his team.
“The nice thing about working in a place like this is the people answering the phones and doing the support are also customers,” Setzen says. “So we all have things that we didn’t like about the Account Center and things we wanted to improve, but when you go use other administrative tools, especially in our industry, the account center was still a really good tool.”
Media Temple senior frontend developer Ian Moersen led the account center redesign project. “He did an amazing job and probably singlehandedly redid half of the account center by himself,” Setzen says.
Some of the changes to the Account Center include taking out the banner ads that used to be in the account center. Media Temple also worked to pare down the number of icons on its Grid control panel page.
“Our Grid control panel page is a page that had about anywhere from about 18 – 24 icons and five of the icons were for email,” Setzen says. “One of the icons was the happy-sad drama masks for email aliases and for us that really makes no sense at all. The iconography was older, and it had its time, but what we wanted to do was improve the experience by instead of sending someone to a page where there were five icons for different email functions to just make an email section.”
Throughout the redesign process and beta period, Media Temple gathered a lot of feedback from its customers. Because of its more design-focused customer base (Media Temple provides hosting for lots of web designers and programmers), the feedback was very specific, which Setzen says was incredibly helpful. For example, Setzen says during the website redesign, a customer tweeted to Media Temple that there was an errant white pixel.
“We didn’t want to do this in a silo because we know what a vital tool this is for our customers,” Setzen says. “We were developing in the open and really listening to feedback from customers and from people who work here. Everyone has the things that they want and it was really trying to just take a chance on some things.”
“It’s very different, and putting it out there and being okay with taking feedback, positive and negative, kind of helped to guide us. I think sometimes for designers, being able to accept feedback becomes one of the more difficult parts of the process.”
“I think people are resistant to change and if you bring them into the process it makes it a lot better. When I think about this design and this project it’s the fact that it really felt collaborative,” Setzen says. “My team really enjoyed coming in in the morning and looking at the feedback.”
While Media Temple didn’t overhaul the workflow of the Account Center, the design aligns it more closely with the website. “We didn’t really improve workflow, that wasn’t our number one priority, and now our next priority is to improve that,” he says. “What can we do to make it easier for people to sign up for an email address? What can we do to make it easier for people to use our file manager and continue to develop this in the open?”
“There were things that drive people that really care about aesthetics like me and people on our team a little crazy,” Setzen says. “We have this beautiful new website, it’s modern and a great reflection of who the company is, and then you would go into the Account Center and it was definitely a different sort of experience. The iconography was really outdated. It was really just trying to modernize that and we want to have a consistent feel when someone gets to the website and they login. We want that feeling to be consistent. We feel like we have that now.”
Feature photo of Setzen via Creative Mornings