FirstSpirit CMS: A New UI for the New Year

Marketing CMS Innovation
by Romy Fischer

FirstSpirit's February 2020 release contains a welcome surprise for e-Spirit customers, including many new features and a new look and feel. In this post, e-Spirit UX Lead Daniela Reddig answers 5 questions about the importance of a good user experience while highlighting new features found in FirstSpirit ContentCreator's next generation UI.

What makes a good user experience?

UX is all about the experience a user gains when interacting with a product. Simply put: Good UX maximizes the positive experience when using a product.

User-friendliness has always been a central aspect of interface design, often combined with the focus on making users work more efficiently. But user experience actually goes far beyond this: It places users, with their various experiences and sensations, at the center of attention. It is about generating the best possible all-round experience--physically, haptically and emotionally. Therefore good UX requires a number of ingredients: The software must be stable and performant; it should support users in achieving their goals easily and quickly; and it should look as smart and modern as possible - all in all, it should simply feel good.

e-Spirit just released a revised design for FirstSpirit's ContentCreator. How will this impact business users?

At first glance, editors will see a fresh and modern software layout designed to make them immediately feel comfortable and "at home". The color palette was revised, the form layout simplified, icons and fonts enlarged. Overall, the UI appears brighter and "calmer".

Noticeable are the changes in the global control elements: The toolbar at the top of the screen was redesigned and the icons modernized. Some elements, such as the release status, were repositioned or their visual weighting adjusted. Editors will also notice changes in the user guidance: Multi-level "wizards" have evolved to dialogs with improved clarity.

Neues Design des FirstSpirit Content Creators
The new status dashboard

In addition, new functions were added, e.g. the option to scale font sizes and forms allowing for better adaptation to the individual working environment. The new status dashboard summarizes user-specific tasks and gathers helpful information and actions. Another new element is the Media Manager, which offers advanced editing options--such as cropping for example--and provides a better overview of all media assets in full-screen mode.

What was the goal of the redesign?

The main goal of course was to improve the user experience. The challenge here is that each user has a different view of UX - it depends on each user's experience to date. Someone who has been working with the software for years has a completely different expectation and perception than someone who is using the application for the first time. The challenge from the UX designer’s point of view is catering the new layout to both groups.

To accomplish this, we included a foundation of new and known elements to maintain a simple and familiar language for editors, while adding modern design elements and interaction patterns. No one should have to re-learn FirstSpirit.

The ContentCreator redesign also marks the beginning of a new generation of FirstSpirit interfaces beginning with the launch of the FragmentCreator client last year that is optimized for orchestrating omnichannel content. The redesign standardizes the look and feel of various specialized FirstSpirit UIs and introduces a uniform design language for future developments.

How did you develop the new design?

We invested heavily in the evolution of existing functions and also worked closely with our customers on new elements. Good UX is always a result of cumulated user experience. The designer's job is to translate feedback into a product and design language that best meets customer needs.

To ensure that today’s users can cope seamlessly with the new environment, we conducted user testing with existing customers. The goal was to find the right amount of change to significantly improve the UI without overburdening users. At the same time we looked at how first time users interact with the software. It is important that users get a quick and intuitive "feeling of success" without having to read documentation or attend a training.

Equally important is thinking outside the box: With the evolution of the Web came new cross-product, and cross-channel UI conventions and patterns that users intuitively understand. For example, three vertically arranged dots usually means "more options". It makes sense to adopt established concepts--they are important signals for users to perceive a UI as a "modern interface".

Vergleich altes Design des Medienmanagements im ContentCreator mit neuem Design.
Comparison of old (left) vs new (right) design

The marketer's tasks are becoming more and more complex, and the tools more powerful. What does the future of UX look like?

All sorts of software assistants already take the burden off of business users - they are no longer just a "tool" for executing a task, but rather work as an external brain. Software in many instances aims to support users with "best-guessing", anticipating a user's goals to provide answers before the user has even asked the question, and to prefigure the next steps based on learned behavior.

These tools have always been designed to help users work smarter and more efficiently, and they continue to do so only in new ways. For example, tools designed to help unburden people of physical work are being replaced by artificial intelligence which compiles vast amounts of information for automated decision-making.

This particular software evolution is already working quite well for the user experience: Tools that provide help before the user has even noticed that there is a "problem" or that support is needed. Another step is seamless integration into "real life", so that software support is perceived as so natural and self-evident that it is no longer seen as an external tool, but as part of life.

Occasionally this is summarized under the crisp headline "No UI is the best UI". But until that happens, we focus on making our UIs as UX-optimal as possible.


Feature: Where to find:
full-screen media management with large preview images and extended functions e.g. cropping and media bookmarks image icon in toolbar
central entry point for creating new content + icon in toolbar
status dashboard for user-specific tasks, next-best actions speech bubble icon in toolbar
“more options” menu (help, scaling) three vertical dots in toolbar
scalable CMS UI elements (icons, forms, dialogs, texts) three vertical dots in toolbar
last-viewed elements in report bar left-pointing triangle
context-specific actions and infos “page” dropdown menu in toolbar
deep links via URL to any content page global
Changed: Where to find:
colors, icons, spacings of UI and controls for improved usability global
toolbar elements moved to top-right:
release status bar
multiperspective preview
media management
green / orange section of toolbar
devices icon
image icon in toolbar
multi-level "wizards" now linear dialogs e.g. create new page
help is accessible under “more options” three vertical dots in toolbar

Experience the new design first-hand and request a demo!

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About the author

Romy Fischer
Partner Marketing Manager