Paragon’s quest for awesome UX

Let’s just be honest ‒ ERP hasn’t evolved at the same rate as most modern software. It has a track record of being intimidating, ugly and complicated. Yet people around the world are forced to use this outdated software because it is at the very core of their business operations. How would you feel if you had to come to work every day and stare at software that looks like this:

JAS aging report

Or this:

JAS order line report

Design is a huge reason why ERP systems continue to fail people time and time again. So, in an industry that rarely considers beautiful design and positive user experience as a priority in software development, the team at Jonar saw an opportunity.

This has allowed us to become pioneers of awesome UX in ERP software. How did we do this? We designed and built a software that is intuitive, user-friendly and easy to navigate by focusing on three key design concepts: skeuomorphism, context and saliency.

Making it look real

For those who aren’t familiar with the term “skeuomorphism,” it’s the concept of having items resemble their real-world counterparts. Humans perceive the world in a particular way and when certain cues are unfamiliar, it can make things difficult to understand. Software is no exception.

That’s why we designed the interface to look like what it’s supposed to represent. Our work order screen looks like a paper work order, and our journal entry interface resembles an accounting journal. Need to take a note? Our notes function looks like a legal pad. Paragon creates a sense of familiarity for its users so they can feel right at home when they begin using our software.

work order screen

We’ll let you know what to do

Even if a software is designed to represent objects found in the physical world, what good is it if the user doesn’t know what to do? That’s why another aspect of design that we used is context. Imagine if you were locked in a room for an undetermined amount of time, with no windows and no way of knowing the time of day. How would you figure out when it was time to go bed? Besides our internal clock to tell us when we’re tired, you would lack external cues like low light levels to indicate that it’s nighttime. You’d be making a decision in a void of situational cues.

In Paragon, we help you make decisions by giving you context. Every detail in Paragon aims to tell the user when something is possible on a specific screen, and more specifically, what that possibility is. With every click of a button, contextual information helps users determine their next move. Only relevant functions to what the user is doing and what they can do next appear on the screen.

invoice screen

Take an invoice, for instance. The only actions available are related to the invoice on the screen at that specific point in the transaction process. As the user passes through various stages of the transaction, the options for what to do next change.

Removing the clutter

The final design concept that helped shape Paragon is saliency. We don’t like an interface that’s a hot mess of buttons, fill-in fields and other infrequently used options, and we don’t think you do either. We want what’s on the screen to be relevant to you, so you don’t spend half your day trying to find what you’re looking for.

To resolve the issue of a cluttered interface, we drew inspiration from an office desk. We looked at a typical workspace and examined what items were most frequently used. Objects like pens, a notepad and a computer take up the most real estate on the desk, whereas things used infrequently, say a stapler or folders, are stored in drawers.

Simply put, we applied the idea of an uncluttered workspace to Paragon. Features and information used the most are made easily available for you, while stuff that you may not use as often are accessible in the “more” tab.  

Of course, the relevance of certain features varies on who the user is. Customer service agents rarely need access to the chart of accounts, and product designers probably don’t worry too much about equipment management information. You know your business best, which is why Paragon can be configured for each individual user. You’ll be able to specify what goes on the summary screens and what ends up in the “more” tab. We’ve also incorporated the functionality to see as much or as little as you want.

bom screen

You deserve better

In an ideal world, your ERP system should help you do your job. Unfortunately, it usually just ends up getting in the way. That’s why Paragon is built first and foremost with the end-user in mind. By focusing on beautiful design and positive user experience, we think we’ve designed a software that’s a pleasure to use ‒ and that’s pretty awesome.

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