Businesses can more easily schedule and track people and equipment with new business management applications powered by Magnetize and built by Company-X.

New Zealand owned and Pukekohe-based Magnetize launched new business management software after Hamilton software specialist Company-X spent six months redesigning and rebuilding its seven-year-old desktop and mobile app from the ground up.

The result is a vital tool for businesses struggling to schedule people and equipment with full visibility from quote to invoice. Magnetize is used by a wide variety of industries including civil engineering, construction, earthworks, hire, rental and transport companies.

Magnetize handles quoting and scheduling and is integrated with accounting software Xero for invoicing. It allows for the hosting of associated job-specific files like photographs, health and safety documentation such as Microsoft Word documents and PDF files.

Before coming to Company-X for help, Magnetize had spent seven years and millions of dollars with offshore software developers in India building its feature-rich business management software. Users loved the features but found the desktop app overly complicated and cumbersome, and the mobile app unusable.

User experience (UX) and user intreface (UI) review

USER EXPERIENCE EXPERT: UX and UI designer Briana Christey.
USER EXPERIENCE EXPERT: UX and UI designer Briana Christey.

Magnetize technology partner The Instillery recommended a user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) review and suggested Company-X as a technology partner. UX and UI designer Briana Christey reviewed the existing software and interviewed users concerning their experience.

“The purpose of the UX review was to assess the existing desktop application, website and marketing collateral to identify opportunities to improve engagement, sales conversions and adoption of the product,” Christey said.

“Importantly, Magnetize wanted to build a world-class product that was driven by clients and solution for their pain points.

“Overall, we found that Magnetize user application was feature-rich, but rated low in usability and aesthetics, affecting overall satisfaction and adoption of the product.

“Originally the problem we were looking at was how to increase adoption and conversions from the website. But once we got in and started talking to actual users, we discovered that there were some usability issues and that we wanted to see if we could fix them.”

Magnetize turned to technology partner The Instillery for advice.

“We were talking constantly with The Instillery general manager Richie Jenkins about our frustrations, our desire to bring development back to New Zealand and to partner with the best,” said Magnetize chief executive Paul Lyons. “He said, ‘If you're going to do this, you've got to get Company-X onboard.’

“We had development goals but just as important to us was a good cultural fit. Magnetize is a values-driven company. Our values are centred on honesty, integrity and trust-based relationships. We take pride in being accessible. It is critically important to us that we partner with similar companies, leaders who excel at client service. We met with the Company-X team, they are outstanding and have exceeded our expectations, which are high and, as they say, the rest is history!”

User experience (UX) issues

Luke McGregor

Company-X senior software architect Luke McGregor examined the existing software and recommended a replacement approach as the best and most cost-effective way of resolving the usability issues and modernising the technology.

“I found UX issues scattered across pretty much every aspect of the application that meant we would have to rethink every page,” McGregor said.

McGregor also found security issues with the old software.

McGregor recommended a replacement approach as a cost-effective way of resolving the usability and security issues and modernising the technology.

“At that point, when you've got that much modification you want to do in that capacity, it's cheaper to just start again,” McGregor said. “That's kind of a sad reality of it.”

As a result, Company-X led a full product development process which resulted in the design and build of an entirely new, easy to use, version of Magnetize from the ground up.

The decision to rebuild allowed the team to start again with a customer-focused product design methodology.

The project included exhaustive interviews with the Magnetize team behind the original concept as well as existing and prospective users. Feedback was collected at every stage of the project.

“At times we didn't always know what we were building, importantly throughout the project we stayed focussed on the Magnetize clients and their pain points and knew that if we employed the best methods or the right methodology, we would be on the mark. That begins with talking to people to understand what the pain points are and then looking at UI that similarly solves those problems,” Christey said.

Humanised user experience

USER INTERFACE: Logging your time with Magnetize on an iPad.
USER INTERFACE: Logging your time with Magnetize on an iPad.

In the redesign and rebuild, Company-X humanised the user experience.

"Humanising the experience is about adopting a user-centred approach and thinking about real people, going about their workday, who will be using this software,” Christey said.

This was accomplished with user personas. "Lisa" the office administrator, "Steve" the operations manager and "Jase" the worker and “Les” the owner was kept front of mind as the new software was designed and developed.

“Sometimes we would role-play a phone conversation or speak aloud user stories to clarify the contexts we were designing for. At every stage of development, we went back to users and a group of potential users to get their input and feedback. Being user-centred keeps us on track to solve real problems in the best way.

“An example of a usability issue was the use of long, linear forms to create a job. To input data into the system, the user would need to complete multiple compulsory fields before they could click save at the bottom. Unfortunately, long, linear forms are not uncommon in this industry, and they result in a real headache for administrators and a slow pace of work.

“In Magnetize, users can create a job in a few seconds because we've simplified the number of fields and clustered information into logical groups,” Christey said.