Witness a remarkable transformation as I unveil the revamped UI/UX of WinAutomation into Power Automate Desktop, elevating user-friendliness and visual appeal to unprecedented heights. Bid farewell to the outdated design and embrace a sleek, modern interface that effortlessly captivates and simplifies people’s experience.
One of the products I'm most proud of designing is a desktop app initially called WinAutomation from Softomotive.
I was the principal designer on the project, responsible for everything from user research to iterated UI/UX design in a truly agile (meaning that we abided by all the rituals) team of seven.
I conducted internal user testing and feedback sessions throughout the design process to ensure the app met the needs of our target audience. On the process, the app was acquired by Microsoft and is now included in Windows 11 with its new name, Power Automate Desktop or PAD for short.
PAD is a low-code desktop automation solution that allows users to free up time and focus on things that really matter. Its key highlights:
Automates repetitive tasks
Integrates multiple systems
Prior to its transformation into PAD, the product was known as WinAutomation and was under the ownership of Softomotive.
Upon joining the team, I encountered three primary challenges with the product:
It was dated
A visually outdated and disconnected design was observed by everyone
It was hard to use
A shift towards simplified user journeys for a wider user base was needed
It was not accessible
Inclusive design is paramount for users with various limitations
"How can we streamline and simplify automation support for a broad audience?"
To gain a deeper understanding of our users, I crafted a persona to empathize and connect with their needs on a personal level.
Execute without oversight
"I'm tired of spending hours on end doing the same monotonous tasks."
"The repetitive nature of these tasks leave me feeling unproductive."
Methodical at work
"I'm motivated to find a way to free up my time and focus on more important work."
"I yearn for a solution that brings ease and efficiency into my daily workflow."
Failing to meet OKRs
"The lack of automation options makes me waste time and my potential."
The design process for WinAutomation commenced with thorough internal research. I initiated discussions with key stakeholders, including designers, developers, managers, the CTO and the CEO who had started it all.
My primary focus was on customer care representatives who had valuable first-hand insights. Additionally, I collaborated closely with tech writers who had been writing help page articles based on customer requests.
After gathering all the necessary pieces, the head of design, product manager and I collaborated to meticulously subcategorize the tasks into four main categories that I worked on as a the principal designer.
When I undertook the UI facelift of the app (in 2019), it was still sporting a skeuomorphic design style reminiscent of the mid-2000s.
We embarked on a transformational journey by introducing:
Click on the switch below
Curious about details? Dive a little deeper
Power Automate Desktop (after)
During the project, I communicated with stakeholders, involved developers early, maintained consistency with existing patterns, made enhancements, prioritized accessibility and conducted design QA checks for usability
I conducted user research to gain insights
I clearly defined the objectives of the UX & UI improvements based on feedback and business priorities
I assessed the app's UX flows and identified opportunities to simplify them
Wireframing & prototyping
I created wireframes and interactive mockups to validate design ideas, with feedback from stakeholders
Incorporating feedback I iterated on the mockups and prototypes
I conducted usability testing sessions to identify further areas for refinement
Why it matters
Every human on the planet approaches situations differently.
We all have different ways to think about problems, different things we need to make decisions and different ways we like to learn.
— Cambridge Cognition
Inclusive design principles
My work was based on three principles:
Throughout the development process, I meticulously oversaw the implementation, ensuring that screen readers and high contrast modes worked without any disruptions.
When I joined WinAutomation, there was no established design system in place.
One of my responsibilities was to initiate the process by carefully analyzing the existing patterns and compiling an inventory of design assets and components across the entire Softomotive product family.
Just as I began the componentization process, the company underwent acquisition by Microsoft.
Consequently, I shifted gears and transitioned to utilizing Microsoft's renowned Fluent design system, aligning our efforts with their established framework.
Starting with a closed circle of beta testers, we verified that we had successfully achieved all the project goals.
From there on, since its acquisition by Microsoft, the app's user reach grew exponentially. As part of the Power Automate family (which allows other parts of Microsoft Office and more automation) it offers a lot more than originally anticipated.
Since it's included in Windows 11, it's attracting millions of users worldwide who rely on it to save time and prioritize their core tasks.
The business impact was huge and can be seen by the peer reviews it has received.
Effective collaboration: The project's success hinged on seamless collaboration among individuals from diverse teams and locations.
Clear communication: Open and effective communication channels were essential to ensure everyone was aligned and felt productive in a cohesive working environment.
Adaptability to change: The acquisition of the company introduced new systems and processes, requiring the team to adapt and embrace change, leveraging it as an opportunity for growth.
Humility and teamwork: A low-ego approach and a strong focus on teamwork allowed accepting feedback and a collective commitment to achieving the project's objectives.
Continuous improvement: Regular retrospective rituals provided valuable insights for refining workflows, identifying areas for improvement and implementing adjustments to enhance future projects.
The journey of Power Automate Desktop is an ongoing one, marked by continuous growth and endless possibilities.
By harnessing the power of Chat GPT's technology across our product lineup, we have revolutionized the ease of building natural language-based automations.
Thank you for reading!
Yet another daily standup
At the new office
Microsoft at night
George & Jesus
Apollo team on a typical standup
Apollo team in retrospective mode
Working on the icons
Design + QA
Good ol' fun around the Xmas tree
Design team out and about
Microsoft acquires Softomotive to expand low-code robotic process automation
"During his Build keynote, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella today confirmed that the company has acquired Softomotive, a software robotic automation platform." —TechCrunchRead article
Real world automation stories with Microsoft Power Automate
This post contains a set of automation stories curated by the Power CAT team with a focus on robotics process automation (RPA) in Power Automate. —MicrosoftRead article
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Senior UX designer (full-time) 2021 2022
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