Indigo Interactive has been building accreditation management systems for over
10 years. Since our first system, our software has evolved from basic functions
such as data collection to a more intuitive and sophisticated platform for agencies
to use. Our team's ingenuity has grown to expand using existing technologies as well
as creating our own. I've found this to be a driving factor of many of our current
research and development projects, most recently, Jura.
The Jura accreditation management system is the first-ever SaaS (subscription-as-a-service)
model for the higher education accreditation industry. This platform was crafted by our team
in effort to streamline our custom software for mass use and began in 2013.
Determining Our Goal
It all starts with goals. What are we looking to accomplish, and how does this align
with our company's mission? Agreeing to a set of goals was the very first thing we did
with Jura because the goals shaped the pathway we took and helped to drive each decision
we made. We determined that these goals were most important:
- Above all else, we want to disrupt the market
- Obtain two accrediting agencies to partner with prior to launch
- Secure monthly revenue
How exactly were we going to execute a product that has never been created before?
Our muse for the Jura accreditation system was based on the MVP motto. Minimally Viable
Product (MVP) was the driving force behind successfully creating the software. We knew
that we had to nail the basics before we could be responsible for adding flashy features.
Overbuilding software can not only damage costs, but eat up resources and more often, you
end up building features and functionalities that were never needed in the first place.
Custom software is engrained in our team's blood, so switching from unique systems for each
of our clients to one system that can be used for a variety of organizations was an incredible
turn. In order to keep our goals in check, we constantly hypothesized and validated our research
and vision. This helped to hold ourselves accountable and kept everyone involved. No matter what,
we kept our goals clearly defined to remind us if we were on track.
Analysis & Market Segmentation
In order to disrupt an industry, you have to understand the market. We spent weeks analyzing our
competitors - drawing positive and negative differentiators from each, including ourselves. From this
analysis, we determined where we were succeeding and where we were coming up short. Most importantly,
we determined where voids existed.
Our market segmentation was strenuous and opened our eyes to our own assumptions about the
industry. We compiled pages of data sets that helped us determine:
- The industry numbers as a whole
- Who in the market were already served by us and who were served by our competitors
We were then able to determine the unserved market which allowed us to break them into subsequent
categories for size. This process included our research to help predict future markets. Taking this
approach helped us find who would benefit from our accreditation software and how we can best serve
them. Jura's target market became the smaller accrediting agencies that might not be able to design
a custom accreditation management system at this time.
Workflows & Wireframes
Using our research, we developed user personas that outlined the needs of potential users of our
accreditation software. Each persona represented a user group and their specific behaviors. User
personas are common throughout software shops that have a high focus on user experience design, they
help you determine interactions and needs before building out the system.
After we understood our potential users, we broke down the main functions of the accrediting process,
from the initial request for accreditation services to the self-study, site visit, and accreditation decisions.
We stripped away overly complex needs to allow us to give as much flexibility as possible for accrediting agencies
from different walks of life. We also researched other subscription-based software to see what they did well and
what they weren't able to deliver and used those as examples to include or improve in our system.
This lead to our initial wireframes - uncomplicated, basic outlines that helped clarify the workflow and
functionalities we'd be building. The revision process was a cycle of editing based on feedback, and once
we felt as if we could not improve any further, we created the stylesheet. The Jura system is not only
structured to work well from gridviews and transitions, but the style was carefully planned and implemented.
We believe good workflows deserve good design and because of that, we've created something no one else has.
Every icon in Jura is a custom icon we created and is designed to guide our users skillfully through our
Development & Testing
We developed the Jura software based on a modified agile approach. As iterations of development were completed,
our team would test and provided immediate feedback. Our timeline allowed us the luxury to make improvements
where needed, and ultimately have the system securely ready for our first client to test.
We originally anticipated having users setup their own system with the aid of dashboard steps, but later
determined that the first few steps would be setup by our team to ensure the structure of each account was
stable and the foundation was correct. This was one of our biggest realizations as we worked with our clients
and team members. We also received valuable insight from our beta testers that enlightened us on immediate
needs and features that would be helpful at a later time.
We were fortunate that our clients provided such significant insight into the reality of the Jura accreditation
software. As we continue to add features and modules into the Jura AMS, we are aware of the need to validate
assumptions with our customers and let them help us build the right things. Though Jura has taken a long time
to study, build, and execute, our team is confident that without these steps, the system would not be as successful
as it is today.