Case Study: BetterServers Landing Page

The Challenge: How to convert website visitors into paying customers

Roles: UX Research | Wireframes | Functional Prototyping | Interaction Design | Visual Design | Front-End Development

BetterServers wanted to provide the fastest cloud servers on the planet. The slogan back in 2011 was, "Our focus is on providing the fastest Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)." Whether or not that was relaistic and feasible is not my place to say. However, when I came onto the team, it was exciting and smelled like start-up all over.

Although I was hired to "make it look good" (refering to Information Architecture, the visual interface and overall consistency), I also spent a lot of time considering the least painful and most intuitive solution as possible. There is a saying in UX circles: "Fail fast and fail often." The idea behind that saying is to iterate over wireframes, designs and various approaches to present the product as simple as possible.

Wireframes turned into design mock-ups until they were approved. After that, I built functional versions of those components in HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The programmers would then incorporate my work into the ptoject. Since this was a project that was not defined clearly but had to meet all kinds of ever-changing criteria, some of the design elements may look a little strange – but the end results were "exactly what the CEO wanted." I used my veto powers as much as I could.

Of course, that presented a number of challenges. Do we show what we have to offer first? Or do we collect information from potential customers before we let them see anything? Looking back, I would say that the entire project consisted of three parts:

(1) The marketing website,

(2) The e-commerce factor of allowing customers to configure any type of server configuration they want and charge accordingly and

(3) A highly technical component that could spin up servers that could be managed and administered conveniently.

In some cases, it was a challenge to maintain a balance between aesthetics and easy access to features. Certain features had to have a visual user interface that allowed novices and experienced users to do certain tasks their way. A lot of discussions took place, and numerous wireframes and mock-ups were tested, before implementing them into the project.*

*This outdated User Interface was exactly what the CEO wanted at that time. Today, I would obviously use a cleaner and leaner approach.

The members of the core team and I had our hands in every aspect of the business. There was a lot of prototyping and a lot of trial and error. There were successes and the overcoming of challenges. Toward the end of my tenure at BetterServers, we were acquired by Endurance International Group. Together with their experienced team, we followed their styleguide. As a result, we had to tweak the marketing approach and the look-and-feel of the website and made numerous changes to be ready for launch.

One requirement, for example, was a customizable dashboard. This dashboard could be configured by administrators and show the overall status of a server farm. The idea was to highlight outliers – either positive or negative – so that administrators could quickly review and resolve issues. Below is a draft of that feature which I produced.

There were times, when I worked on specific modules myself. Several of us worked on different aspects and components of the website while I was working there. Although I was mostly invovled in practical workflows and usability testing, one of my goal for the entire team was to present data as meaningfully as possible. I also had periods of time when I worked on JavaScript applications, specifically for the shopping cart we designed and implemented ourselves.

Although this is an old project and the visuals are quite outdated and sometimes even overpowering, I wanted to keep this case study in my current portfolio to have a discussion about how much persuasion a UX Designer has to employ to get through co-workers and the CEO, who would have been happy to see the end result in a black screen with green text.