From the website to the app, we have started to redesign the image of Didacte in the last few months. After 5 years, it's time for a makeover!
However, the design for an online product like Didacte goes far beyond the branding appearance. Besides the style and look of the app, every element of the interface should be practical to ensure a pleasant user experience.
What influences these decisions? What challenges arise from these changes?
Jules and Mathieu share their opinion and experience with us regarding the branding of an online product!
Jules Coupal-Lafleur is a web designer and head of artistic direction at Didacte. Since joining the team in 2020, he has already made several changes in the branding and is working on the redesign of the product.
Mathieu Dumont is president of Didacte, but also very involved in marketing and product vision. He has done a lot to raise awareness of the app and make it easier for our customers to use and understand.
How has Didacte's branding evolved over the past few years?
(Mathieu) From our early days, the goal was to develop an application recognized for its ease of use rather than for the number of features it offers.
It was, therefore, important that the branding reflected this desire. We have always relied on a minimalist approach, both in terms of interfaces and our corporate visual identity.
We played more conservatively in the first year to validate the interest in the market among our 2 audiences, which are very different. One aims to sell courses, while the other one wants to invest in the professional development of its team.
We have opted for clean visuals and a message large enough to remain attentive while being responsive to comments and requests from early adopters.
Over the years, we have refined our positioning and the branding must follow this progression. We, therefore, decided to segment our audiences in 2018 to better consider each other's problems.
The tone is different according to our audiences while respecting the same common lines that we consider to be fundamental to Didacte: transparency, proximity, trust and actionability.
In 5 years, Didacte has gone from “the training sales platform for trainers and self-employed workers” to “the learning management solution for SMBs”.
It is important for us that the branding allows our customers, present and future, to perceive us as a long-term strategic partner rather than a simple supplier of technological tools.
Yes, we sell an app, but above all, we sell a business management philosophy.
What do you think are the biggest challenges in redesigning an existing application?
(Mathieu) Respond to everyone's needs, while the perceived needs are very different between our audiences.
When developing an application, it is important to understand the most common use case. Each business has specific needs. Each company thinks they’re special.
Considering that a SaaS solution meeting 100% of a company's needs is very rare, the challenge is therefore to identify common and constant problems between them. You can then develop a tool that meets all of these needs, for a fraction of the cost.
It should also be understood that Didacte is regularly the first training platform for its clients. The needs perceived by them, versus the real needs, are often different.
The platform must therefore help customers understand what their real needs are and anticipate the features that may be useful to them, even if they are not always aware of that from the start.
The redesign of an existing application must be based on the recurring problems that we note following our interactions with our customers.
We must know how to respect the organic limitations of our customers, such as technological ease, pedagogical knowledge or available resources, to reduce friction as much as possible during the creation of a training project.
In return, it is also important for us to regularly reaffirm which target audience we aim to help to consider their behaviours and problems.
One of the underrated challenges of app development is listening to everyone. It is very easy to lose the focus and direction of development if you don't accept early in the process that the application may not be suitable for everyone.
(Jules) In my opinion, from a graphical point of view, the challenge of a redesign mainly concerns the already existing users of the product. Over time, the user creates their landmarks and gets used to some interaction with the interface.
The redesign of an existing application requires a conscientious approach, to evolve the product without creating confusion or a loss of reference.
This is one of the reasons why we have a progressive approach when improving the visual system. Several small one-time changes are more likely to be naturally appropriate than a sudden major change.
What does the creative process look like when you want to create a new page or interface in Didacte?
(Jules) First and foremost, the creation of a new interface stems from a need or the identification of a problem.
Whether it is a problem coming from a customer or an internal need, we always make sure to have documented and analyzed the request before taking action. Thus, at the start of the project, we have a roadmap that establishes the main lines of the project.
Before doing anything, I always start with a research phase, which aims to inspire me graphically, but also to have a strategic design reflection. For example, I list different ways of doing things and identify certain possible solutions that meet our needs in the context of the project.
Then the actual execution begins. Usually, I start by sketching and developing several possible solutions, then eliminate possibilities and, eventually, bring out the best solution.
After approval, it is at this stage that I begin a mockup that is more faithful to the integration of the real content. After this step, the only potential changes are normally minor graphics adjustments, often done in conjunction with the integration team.
My work is closely linked to the work of our strategist and the development team. This is why throughout the project, my process is interspersed with sporadic meetings to ensure that I am in line with the expectations of the various stakeholders.
Is it difficult to design an interface for two different user levels (trainers and students)?
(Jules) This aspect certainly complicates the way of approaching the design. It may sound simplistic, but it's really about keeping in mind the purpose of different users, sort of asking the question: "what is their reason for using this particular interface?".
Sometimes this brings to light common elements and elements unique to each user. Very often, from this reasoning arise the graphic necessities.
It's also important to think about the route that takes them to the actual interface. Concretely, it helps to identify which are the points of contact of each type of user.
From a general point of view, given the aspect of learning management, the challenges for the interface of the trainers consist in the organization and the hierarchy of the visual elements, as well as the intuitiveness of the functionalities.
For the student user, the objective is more to facilitate navigation through the platform, accessibility to the training offer, clarity of the lesson plan, etc.
What are the user experience objectives that we aim to achieve or improve with the next planned changes?
(Jules) As Mathieu stated previously, we advocate ease of use. Concretely, in terms of design, it goes down to ensuring that we eliminate or reduce irritants during the interaction between the interface and the user and, secondly, to make a complex functionality intuitive.
In this sense, we are currently working on several projects that should help improving support for new users. First, by improving the journey of potential customers on the website, by directing them to information following their needs.
Then, we want to facilitate the onboarding of new users on the application with a guided and more sequential approach, to optimize their appropriation of the platform.
An application that invests in its user experience is noticeable, and ultimately it is the element that distinguishes a digital product from its competitors.