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Workday 21—All about a New User Experience

Written By: Raluca Druta
Published On: February 7 2014

Workday has recently announced a new user experience as part of the 21st release of its solution. The new architectural and visual redesign complement other trendy technologies that the vendor has embraced—i.e., cloud and in-memory database. During the past 5 months, Workday—inspired by the consumer Internet—has worked on applying a minimalistic style to its user experience.

In an analyst briefing with me, Joe Korngiebel, vice president of user experience at Workday, stated that the new user experience has been designed with the help of a partner group formed of 30 of its customers. One member of this group is Intuit—the creator of TurboTax software, a product that provides an intuitive user experience for individuals who want to handle their tax filings on their own. Intuit’s consumer-Internet expertise has helped Workday push consumer-Internet concepts to payroll, financials, and other human resources (HR) areas. According to Workday, the redesign is not a simple coat of paint, but rather a comprehensive change to the way the Workday solution delivers transactions, from self-service to the back office.

From an architecture perspective, Workday 21 places all the business logic of its software solution in one place—i.e., on the object management server. This server passes data and metadata to the user interface server. Furthermore, the vendor displays that data and metadata in a consumable form to its customers—i.e., via iOS and Android user interfaces, as well as the HTML5-responsive, touch-optimized mobile Web solution.

With version 21, Workday has translated its original flash-based technology into HTML5, and is now focusing on the browser experience. Except for three areas—org chart, the 9 box grid, and the business process visualization, which are still in flash, the rest of the interface is in HTML5. This is in line with Workday’s eagerness to adapt its user interfaces to the trendiest technology on the market—starting with HTML and Ajax, continuing with Flex, iOS, and Android, and now using HTML5.

The “Wheel” interface design that users have been accustomed to has been replaced with a simplified and fluent cross-device version. Joe Korngiebel emphasized the benefits of the new interface compared with the old one.  “Our users around the world benefit from a more intuitive experience to navigate their HR and financial decisions from the point they land on Workday’s brand new homepage.”


Workday 21 home page


With the new user experience, the navigation is now on the left side of the screen, much like that of Gmail. An improved predictive search facilitates the navigation. Similarly, the access to the user profile is now on the right side of the screen.


Workday 21 navigation and search


In addition, following the ‘inbox’ model of most free e-mail providers, Workday 21 now displays the user’s pending items in a list, like an e-mail inbox that the user can navigate through. The user profile uses simple iconography, guiding the eyes to the image and name of the user. The data describing a profile is organized such that it can be easily followed.  


Workday 21 user profile


Transitioning to a new user interface may not be necessarily easy for most customers, and therefore Workday provides its clients with an opt-in window between the months of January to April of this year. This is possible thanks to the single line code that Workday is currently using. With version 21, Workday has evolved to a continuous-development model, which allows features to go through a preview mode before entering the production mode. As a result, customers have been able to preview the new user interface throughout the month of January and provide feedback via the active Workday community. To opt-in, users can switch from the old to the new interface with a simple toggle, much like they would do with a consumer-Internet Web site.

Besides the new user experience, Workday 21 has advanced its financial application with more sophisticated and global features, added compliance support and flexibility, and extended mobility in human capital management (HCM) to talent management.

 
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