Our journey to a great User Interface

Can royalty processing be an engaging and enjoyable activity?

A great app is one that is focused, intuitive, fast and a pleasure to use.

RoyaltyCloud is a unique and intelligent royalty platform designed to bring an inter-connected network of publishers and composers closer together. Using powerful computer algorithms, data processing and sharing techniques we can simplify the distribution of royalty data right along the chain from CMO to composer.

The underlying functionality and content of RoyaltyCloud has always been special but showcasing it through a great user interface (UI) proved more of a challenge than we expected. It was a real labour of love and the journey is worth reflecting on.

I have spent my whole career working in large finance departments, using in-house systems where little value was placed on user experience - it simply wasn’t necessary because as an employee I didn’t have choice. Publishers do have a choice whether to use our software and we therefore have to place value on the UI.

Person Relaxing

At the start of the process, we set ourselves some development red-lines. Cross these and we felt the power of our product and our company ethos would be compromised.

  • No over-engineering – the number of ‘button presses’ by the user must be minimised.
  • No content clutter – data must be concisely presented.
  • No complex user guide or tutorial videos – if it needs explaining it must be redesigned.
  • No confusing workflow – navigating the pages of the app must be obvious.
  • No waiting for pages to load – processing time must be minimised.
  • No unnecessary steps to the workflow – the process must be automated as far as possible.
    Pleasure to use
  • No fear of use – the user must enjoy using the system and not dread opening it.
  • No ‘black box’ features – the user must understand and be engaged in their royalty data.

I asked the management team to come up with a list of apps, websites or software packages that they liked and enjoyed using. I thought that if we could learn from the best apps then we would be able to build ourselves that killer user interface.

There were a few obvious names in the list such as Spotify, Netflix and BBC iPlayer. In our opinion these apps all look great. Content is presented visually using relevant artwork to allow the customer to browse content as if they were albums or DVDs in a shop. This is arguably more engaging and a better customer experience than presenting page after page of titles in text form.

There were also a few left-field suggestions such as HMRC’s Self-Assessment Income Tax tool. We admired how the workflow was structured – effectively hand-holding the user through the process giving little opportunity for missed steps or mistakes.

While visually these apps are polar opposites, they provide the user with simple and intuitive interfaces where navigation between pages is smooth and bug free.

What this exercise proved was that there wasn’t a straightforward blueprint we could follow for RoyaltyCloud. Our system processes data via a well-defined workflow, but it does not naturally lend itself to heavy use of visuals like Spotify or Netflix.

So where did we get to?

  • RoyaltyCloud refines royalty processing to a few simple steps.
  • Data screens are set out clearly and logically.
  • Only relevant information is presented back to the user.
  • RoyaltyCloud is simple and intuitive to use .
  • The processing workflow is well defined, making the next step obvious.
  • There is a focus on working software rather than producing onerous instruction manuals and training video tutorials.
  • RoyaltyCloud automates the royalty workflow.
  • The proprietary processing algorithms will match PRO or sub-publisher statements to a library in seconds.
  • Statements are automatically produced facilitating simple and quick payments to clients.
    Pleasure to use
  • RoyaltyCloud is structured around a stimulating and interactive dashboard.
  • Each page of the platform has been carefully designed to give a clear, concise and insightful summary of royalty data.
  • The route from statement upload to client payment is quick and simple .

We have learnt, and continue to learn, from our community of users. RoyaltyCloud is already being used to process royalties and by staying close to our clients we can adapt and evolve the software. By working collaboratively with them, we can understand what works and more importantly what doesn’t. We have an agile approach to the development of our software which is enabled through these valued partnerships.

Did we get it right? Contact us to arrange for a demo and tell us what you think!

Russell Tew 8th Mar 2021