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Published September 29th 2014

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger: Working on Vizia

Sometimes I take for granted how our office looks. I do remember coming for my first interview and seeing 6 huge screens, all displaying stuff that looked pretty interesting, but I didn’t want to look like a staring weirdo so I instead picked nervously at my fingernails and waited for my appointment.

I left the Brandwatch office that day thinking it was some mad, crazy space centre or something. Everyone had MACS! There were massive SCREENS! On the WALLS! Real-time tweets! ENGAGEMENT AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT!


Coming from a tiny little publishing office where such technology was 20 years off, this blew my mind.

I was looking at Vizia.

When we launched Vizia in September 2013, we knew we had something special on our hands. But in true Brandwatch style, we don’t just fling something out into the wild and forget about it. Oh, no. We’re constantly adapting, evolving and improving our products so we’re always at the forefront of what’s possible.

As such, we’re about to release a new iteration of Vizia admin interface – the place users go to set up their Vizia content.

We’re really excited about this and we’ll be showing off the new features and cool stuff it can do tomorrow, when we officially release it.

Before that, just to whet your appetite, we want to give you a little behind-the-scenes info on how and why our mega developers have been fine-tuning, rebuilding and crafting.

I asked one of the super-brains behind the project, Ed Hesketh, about the thinking behind the evolution of the Vizia admin interface and its design.

The good stuff we wanted to do

  • Consistency: This is so important. We wanted to fully align Vizia with the main Brandwatch Consumer Research app. Every UI element and pattern that we could re-use from the main application is one less new thing our users, you guys, have to learn.
  • Visibility: We wanted to give users a good overview of their Vizia content at a glance and minimize the amount of navigation necessary by providing a flatter structure. Another key aspect of the design was the introduction of previews of Vizia content in-situ during editing – providing instant feedback of the end result as soon as the changes are made.
  • Flexibility: Getting your Vizia setup just right can involve tweaking and refining of what you have already created. We therefore wanted to make it as easy as possible to make changes to existing setups, for example by re-arranging Vizia content through drag and drop.
  • Efficiency: We wanted to reduce the time it takes to perform actions, providing better defaults, storing last used selections and being able to create new things by duplicating and editing existing things. The flatter structure also reduces the amount of navigation needed.
  • Scalability: We wanted to create a fantastic starting point to build in more features that users are asking for.

A work in progress

The starting point was the first admin. We started with an evaluation of the existing interface, looking at some of the main pain points and parts that could be improved, and prototyping some potential updates.

During these early updates it was decided to consider integration into the main app – partly for technical reasons and partly for consistency.

Early Information Architecture diagram of an initial iteration of the original design (before integration of the main app):


Early prototype:

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 2.24.32 PM

A large help in the process was the use of Rapid Iterative Testing and Evaluation (RITE) user testing.

The main difference with the RITE method is that it allows for iterations between tests, allowing changes to be made, validated and refined more quickly than more traditional approaches.

Once the direction was agreed, an interactive prototype of a revised Vizia admin was built, incorporating all of the functionality from the first admin.


We’re delighted with how it’s all turned out, and as I mentioned, the new release of features will be coming tomorrow.

Watch out for more information – and don’t forget to come and admire our screens if you ever stop by the office, we’re very proud!

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