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RIA & Ajax: Article

Xythos Enlists Catalyst Resources for "On Demand" SaaS Application Design and AJAX UI Strategy

Xythos On Demand Released

The recently-released "Xythos On Demand" is a Software as a Service (SaaS) content management service for smaller businesses and departments of larger organizations. Xythos recognized that rolling out a successful SaaS would involve more than simply repackaging their existing Enterprise Document Management Suite to the Web. They enlisted Catalyst Resources to define and validate the SaaS application design as well as identify AJAX behaviors that would have high impact and solve real world business problems.

Hosted email, e-commerce and sales force automation are commonplace solutions for small to medium sized business (SMBs) that don't have the resources to manage their own installations. Xythos had identified secure document management and collaboration as another hi-value service for SMBs. Their Enterprise Document Management Suite had a proven track record for use by Fortune 500 and government organizations. Their goal now was to migrate a version to on-demand that would bridge sophisticated document management technology with the simplicity and rich user experience needed to target small and medium customer markets.

Xythos turned to Catalyst Resources to help them define the Xythos On Demand application user interface and validate it with representative SMB users and internal teams.

"There is a growing awareness that the SaaS revenue model is entirely dependent upon a successful and satisfying overall user experience." said Paul Giurata, managing partner of Catalyst Resources. "Perceived performance, dynamic behaviors, clear paths of action, and ease-of-use matter as much as features and functionality. Individuals expect their online business applications to have the same kind of intuitive, rich interface and Web 2.0-type features as the online consumer applications they use everyday."

Using a multi-disciplinary team and agile rapid application design methodology, Catalyst provided a Fast Track UI assessment and strategy service for the Xythos On Demand application:

  • Identify high value scenarios and key user interaction view types for redesign
  • Define key conceptual models to help users understand where they are in the software and how the view relates to what they can do
  • Simplify and streamline navigation and workflow steps to reduce error and minimize support costs
  • Work with the internal development team to identify where AJAX UI will have high impact and provide desktop like performance
  • Create a Web 2.0-style visual design with a common lexicon of icons
  • Validate designs with users and internal stakeholders
  • Implementation support

At the completion of the Fast Track program the Xythos internal development team applied the new core design across the entire application. The new interface is a tree-structured menu of files and folders that a user uploads to the company's server. Open a file by simply double-clicking it. Management options, accessible from menu icons or AJAX right-click pop-up menu, include file/folder locking, commenting, RSS subscription and collaboration.

Commenting on the competitive advantage of superior user interface for SaaS applications, Xythos CTO Kevin Wiggen said "The streamlined user experience along with AJAX and Web 2.0 technology makes it possible for Xythos On Demand customers to easily extend their collaborative capabilities and better manage their content. The Catalyst Fast Track service enabled us to jump start our development process and get our service to market quickly."

VP of Engineering for Xythos, Mike Windstandley added "By taking advantage of the flexibility and scalability of our SaaS model, leveraging AJAX to deliver a rich user experience that mimics desktop performance, and integrating with our own Xythos enterprise web services, we are delivering a unique combination of value and solid functionality."

More Stories By RIA News Desk

Ever since Google popularized a smarter, more responsive and interactive Web experience by using AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript + XML) for its Google Maps & Gmail applications, SYS-CON's RIA News Desk has been covering every aspect of Rich Internet Applications and those creating and deploying them. If you have breaking RIA news, please send it to RIA@sys-con.com to share your product and company news coverage with AJAXWorld readers.

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