Too much of a good thing?

Boston Capital’s subsidiary, Lexington Solutions, developed a web-based asset management application—Fusion—to manage the company’s portfolio of over 2,200 properties. An initial internal success, Fusion was then marketed to syndicators, investors and asset managers. To address the needs of many different users, Lexington Solutions built the app with a very large volume of data, advanced reporting functions, and complex business rules. When the app was expanded to serve new markets, its sheer size and complexity quickly proved problematic for all but the most advanced users—new comers had difficulty learning Fusion, and occasional users found it confusing and time-consuming.

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Our solution: apply the Agile principles from the outside in

Fusion had evolved through Agile development—a series of iterative steps designed to meet the growing needs of incremental markets. Our design team embraced those principles, and then applied them from the outside in to rebuild, in a series of careful steps, user experiences that were appropriate to those new markets.

Open for business during construction

To deal with the complexity of Fusion, our team conducted an in-depth heuristic evaluation, mapping and weighing each feature against a set of 10 widely accepted interactive design principles. From this analysis we recommend a series of “quick win” improvements, and then partnered with the Lexington team to incorporate those into their Agile development process.

Because the app was in a state of continuous use and design enhancement, it was essential that fixes be made without disruption. To assure continuity of service, we separated the browser-dependent code and page elements from the business layer of the Fusion app. In this way we were able to see rapid improvement in the usability of the site, without hindering feature enhancement or business functionality

A tool now for experienced users and newcomers

The changes proved immediately popular with all kinds of Fusion users, and have allowed Lexington Solutions to expand Fusion to a large and potentially lucrative market—the Low Income Housing and Tax Credit Industry (LIHTC).

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