When Castor was first starting out there was a strategic focus on growing our range of features quickly, to ensure we offered the core EDC functionality our customers needed. This approach has served our users well, there are now 3000+ live studies helping researchers across the globe to improve human health. However, to continue improving on all Castor’s amazing features and services, we need to upgrade some of our underlying technologies.
Throughout this upgrade, we’ll also be taking the opportunity to introduce improvements to our customer experience more broadly - early in 2019 we will be introducing one of the biggest visual updates to Castor EDC since our inception. Broad and exciting updates are coming in the year ahead that will help you to work smarter, and we’re starting by improving the way you navigate and view pages in our application.
Whilst it may take a small amount of time to re-familiarize yourself, it’s a vital first step. There are technical reasons for this, but it is also the least disruptive route to delivering more value, quicker, and more reliably, whilst maintaining the great customer experience you (the 25,000+ people using Castor!) have come to expect.
The article below outlines what has/hasn’t changing and why, as well as how these updates are going to make your life easier as a researcher. We also have a webinar where our Product Design Manager shows all the changes and explains the rationale behind them.
When redesigning Castor’s navigation and page views we relied on user input and testing, as well as analysis of software navigation patterns within the healthcare sector and more broadly. Below we’ll describe the issues within this context, before describing the solution and benefits.
But first things first, let’s take a look!
You’ll immediately notice the biggest change, the navigation has moved to the left-hand side of the screen! Don’t worry though, all the page have the same names you’re used to, as well as the same sub-tabs/menus - so there are no hidden surprises.
Okay, let’s talk about the rationale and benefits inherent in all these changes:
1. Vertical Space
Many of our users have been asking to see more records per screen, without having to scroll. In our old navigation there were many layers of tabs, a big blue heading and the footer that take up 20%(+) of the available screen space on our most popular screen size (and much more on smaller screens).
By moving the horizontal tabs into our new vertical menu, and removing the footer, the new design creates space for an additional 2-3 rows of page content (e.g. records in a table) without having to scroll, and that’s going to increase to 6-7 rows with a following layout update we’re preparing for table filters and actions like import/export.
You’ll also notice that the blue header bars are now a light grey color instead. These contain the exact same functionality as always, they’ve just been toned down visually so that there is more focus placed on the page information below.
2. Horizontal Space
Another common complaint we hear is that we’re not using the full width of the screen. This is certainly true on our most common screen size (1920px), where 50% of the screen has no content:
Whilst moving the navigation to the left-hand side we’ve taken this as an opportunity to also extend the horizontal display of pages/table views. This will make things like your All Records View 320 pixels (+) wider:
What this means is that you can view more columns of data on your screen and/or expand the width of existing columns so you get a better view of the contents of each row. We’ve left some space on the right-hand side for some additional changes that will be coming to this view in the near future.
When introducing the latest changes we’ve also been thinking about the future of Castor. Central to this, we’re ensuring that we have space in the navigation to introduce new features and to make sure we are able to offer tablet and mobile device navigation in the future.
Not only does this allow for new features in the future, it’s also much easier for people to scan vertical lists than horizontal, so navigation becomes easier and faster.
Tablet & Mobile friendly:
Using Castor on a tablet device is currently possible, but not always straightforward, and if you want to use it on a mobile phone you’ll face difficulties. The new navigation collapses into a drawer when on smaller devices which allows for much a much better viewing and navigation experience on mobile, though most Castor pages are still best suited for desktop or laptop viewing.