NetSuite chief executive officer (CEO) Zach Nelson unveiled the new NetSuite user interface (UI) with a more intuitive and visually engaging work experience during his keynote address at the company’s SuiteWorld 2014 conference yesterday. Founder and chief technology officer (CTO) Evan Goldberg discussed and demonstrated the new capabilities more deeply in his SuiteWorld 2014 keynote presentation today. NetSuite plans to roll out the new UI with NetSuite's 2014.2 release, scheduled for Q3 2014.
As the pioneer in cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP), NetSuite has been at the forefront of UI design trends. Its first release in 1999 abandoned the Microsoft Windows desktop standard look and feel of the era and adopted the web metaphor. The company’s UI introduced role-based business intelligence (BI) dashboards, while its 2006 UI featured in-line editing in web-based applications (instead of just viewing) and incorporated Ajax technologies to develop dashboards and portlets that live natively in core business applications (see image depicting the development of NetSuite UI over the years).
NetSuite's 2014 UI
To again reinvent its business application UI, NetSuite conducted 3 years of deep usability research with its customers. It reportedly completed extensive research, user observations, and usability testing with users across various roles—from front-line sales, marketing, finance, e-commerce, human resources (HR) and services employees through to C-level executives. Leveraging and supporting HTML5 and based on principles of modern ‘flat design,’ which emphasizes crispness and clarity, the NetSuite UI exhibits easy-to-read fonts, attractively redesigned icons and graphics, increased whitespace, and greater aesthetic simplicity (see figure).
Overall, 2014 UI highlights include easy access to navigation and tools such as Global Search, Recent Records, Help, and Shortcuts, as well as a new global Quick Add feature that enables users to rapidly add tasks, events, contacts, and more from anywhere in the product. In addition, the ‘progressive disclosure’ feature conceals action prompts until mouseover for a “cleaner” experience, and there is also an improved experience on tablets through a responsive dashboard, larger menus and controls, and improved scrolling (see image).