Kentico Kontent Improves UI
Modern CMS platforms have had to rapidly reinvent themselves to stay relevant with technology advancements such as the cloud, headless, agile, and the often blurred definition of being a digital experience platform (DXP) solution. Something that has not changed over the last two decades with the top CMS platforms is the importance of providing customers with an adaptive and perceptive user interface (UI). It’s what fundamentally drives the success of any solution. I don’t care how advanced and feature-rich a platform is — if it’s frustrating to use, it has failed one of its core functions as a CMS.
On April 15th, 2020, Kentico Kontent released its new user interface, boasting improvements which enable enterprise organizations teams to more effectively manage their content. When any leading platform comes out with significant UI changes or updates, I’m always driven to learn more, so I popped the hood of Kentico's press release and connected with Vojtech Boril, Vice President of Growth & Marketing at Kentico Kontent, to discuss the latest UI updates.
Interviewee: Vojtech Boril, VP of Growth & Marketing at Kentico Kontent
Kentico Kontent states that these improvements create a more intuitive authoring environment that can execute content operations faster and with a minimal learning curve. How did the previous version fall short as far as intuitiveness?
"The previous UI had several issues, but, to be honest, I would say the visual design was the thing that really needed to change. Users who do not work in Kontent on a daily basis had troubles navigating through the UI every time they returned. All the UI elements looked very similar to each other and were of almost identical size and color, so they were easy to overlook as a result. Also, the main navigation buttons were missing labels, which, again, did not help with orientation and discoverability. The last issue I would mention was brand misalignment. Kontent is a brand we are proud of, but the old UI looked and felt too different if you compare it to other visuals and our main website."
|Previous Kentico Kontent UI
||New Kentico Kontent UI
Click images above to enlarge
Could you share specific feedback from customers and partners which aided Kentico in updating Kontent’s UI?
"Well, in fact, we took most of the inputs for the new design from usability testing sessions and various field studies, where we watched our users work on their tasks. But, of course, we got plenty of feedback related to the old UI over time. To be specific, I can refer to feedback provided by one of our Enterprise customers (one of the largest retailers in Europe): 'Input fields should be more recognizable, e.g., by giving them a border. This will help everybody who has to maintain content. Many of us have trouble finding the input fields again and again.' Also, we got a lot of UX feedback on the modular content capabilities. The following was provided by Andy Thompson, CTO at Luminary and Kontent MVP: 'The experience for modular content editing experience is not good. Technology is good, the feature is good, and you can do a lot of cool things with it, but the experience isn’t very good.'
What are the key features and improvements in the UI?
"The greatest ones are the new visual design and layout changes. The UI now has a clear hierarchy and does not feel cluttered. Interactive elements are more prominent against the 'background,' and the most important controls are popping out thanks to bold colors and more contrasting space. Our UX team has done a tremendous job improving accessibility in general. The whole user interface can now be accessed by users who can simultaneously interact with each other more easily thanks to redesigned color contrasts, better typography, and various visual cues in the UI. In most of the UI, we’re AA compliant according to the WCAG 2.1 standard. I’d also like to follow up on the feedback about modular content that I’ve mentioned. Our teams have put a lot of work into redesigning how users work with modular content because that’s one of the things that differentiates Kontent from other headless CMSs. We can say that now our users have a much better overview and editing experience of modular and nested content in our app. You can also learn more about the new UI features here.
Do you have any feedback from Kontent customers on the new UI?
"Of course, we do, and I’m happy to say most of the feedback is very positive and enthusiastic. One of our large customers from the US, a leading insurance firm, said the following: 'It looks better than the older UI, it feels lighter and more user friendly. It’s very clean and easy to navigate and what I like about it is that there isn’t anything distracting me.' Customers also enjoy the left navigation menu as mentioned by Kramp, one of the largest agriculture suppliers in Europe: 'The left side navigation menu is way easier to use now, as the Icon + title is clearer than only the icons. I really like the usage of colors and the new UI. I think it looks fancier, which gives me an even more positive feeling when using the tool.' Naturally, we’re continuing to collect customer feedback regarding the new interface, and we’re also committed to delivering more UI updates that will ultimately improve usability, accessibility, and managing content on mobile devices."
Can you elaborate on Kontent’s Collections feature?
"Collections are a great feature tailored for large content teams to manage all their content in a single repository while providing them with an option to share the content across departments, websites, or channels without losing control. With Collections, users can still control who has access to what content and maximize consistency across global and regional channels at the same time."
What are the next plans for the Kentico Kontent team?
"From the product perspective, we want to continue building a best-in-class headless CMS that empowers both content teams and developers to create digital experiences that transform their business. We’ll be soon releasing some exciting improvements to our product add-on Web Spotlight that our customers love and that has already differentiated us from other headless CMSs. From the company’s perspective, Kentico Kontent has seen a huge growth over the last couple of years, so we’ll be focusing on scaling the teams and operations while putting our customers first as we always do. Last but not least, we are already starting to plan Kontent Horizons 2021, a brand-new event we introduced last year. We brought together 1,000+ digital professionals in 2020, and our goal in 2021 is to grow the event and, most importantly, keep building a great relationship with our community, even though the pandemic is still not over."
Having worked with many of the leading content management systems over the years, I can honestly say that the authoring environment is not always “what you see is what you get.” The usability and simplicity of an authoring tool are the most important features a content management system can and should deliver to its users. All platform solutions have their weaknesses, but an inadequate authoring interface should never be one of those weaknesses.
Looking forward, the Kentico Kontent team appears committed to advancing their product capabilities and user experience. They believe that providing a best-in-class authoring interface is essential for organizations to succeed — I would agree and add that it’s fundamental for any platform vendor to succeed.