Tommy Kuntze shares his thoughts on the value of a good user interface in construction technology and how customers drive innovation.
Designing with the end-user in mind
Have you ever wondered about the people behind the products and the team behind the technology? Our ‘Meet the Expert’ series shines the spotlight on one of our Rhumbix employees and their role in bringing our solutions to life. Explore ‘Meet the Expert’ to satisfy your curiosity and discover the personalities pushing innovation forward to ensure every customer is successful with Rhumbix.
Meet Tommy Kuntze
Meet our expert, Tommy Kuntze, Director of Research and Design at Rhumbix. Tommy has been at Rhumbix for about 3½ years after a diverse career path going from ski slopes to San Francisco, from ad tech agency to Twitter to freelance to start ups. He’s soaked up tons of learning and experience along the way, including being battle-tested for intense timelines, complex problems, and demanding customers–all of which has proved immeasurably valuable in the world of digital software design.
Q: What is User Interface (UI), and what does it mean for construction?
A: UI is the user interface. It’s the part of the product you see and interact with. It’s informed by UX design and involves things like visual design, interaction design, and other disciplines that bring the interface to life. User Interface is crucial for construction because the folks that use construction tech software vary in many ways–from being younger to being on the older side, from being new to construction to being very experienced in construction, from being tech-savvy to being tech-averse. So, the UI has to be approachable to all of those people. It’s interesting because construction is an industry of builders who typically want to hold and manipulate the things they’re working on. It’s an industry run on paper, and paper is very accessible. When moving these folks to digital, the UI must be fast and flexible, and accessible as paper. We need to make our UI clear and easy to use, removing as much friction as possible.
Q: Why is designing for the field critical to project success?
A: The field is the place where everything happens. For our customers, the field is critical to project success because that’s where all of the data is captured–and data is how they know to bid on similar projects in the future. It informs how they manage their labor force and so many other things. Taking Rhumbix Payroll, for example, this integration is essential because payroll is the lifeblood of their business. Project success is greatly dependent upon getting payroll right because everyone wants workers to show up to job sites feeling confident that they’ll get paid for the work that they do, and of course, be paid accurately and timely. Beyond that, at Rhumbix, part of success is helping customers find some predictability in a somewhat unpredictable space with many unknowns and variables. Designing solutions that give our customers a level of reliability and confidence absolutely contributes to project success.
Q: What are some of the considerations made when building Rhumbix?
A: A critical consideration we have is the context–physical or digital–that our customers find themselves in. For example, when we design, we can simulate screen glare as a physical consideration. We think about how we can make sure that all the different colors, text, and buttons we use in the application can be seen clearly on a phone or tablet screen while using Rhumbix in the field. When designing UI, we manipulate the dimness on our devices to ensure that it’s easy to see what you’re doing even in the most undesirable field conditions. We also consider the digital context. Take the update to our Production Tracking that’s underway, for example. During many conversations with our customers, we heard about the different data points they need to reference when simply inputting a number and the many factors involved in deciding what information to enter. It’s so much more than simple data input; we had to understand the context of what folks needed and their goal for that piece of data. Before entering data, they’d be considering what information they had entered the last time, defining if it were percent complete, and so on. They’d also be thinking about capturing feedback such as unit rate and progress on job-to-date. Understanding the context of every piece of the application is essential, and all of this insight came out of conversations with our customers.
Q: What value does a good User Interface bring to Rhumbix customers?
A: The value lies within making the data extremely easy to capture, whether it’s on the web or mobile. It’s clear what the data is and that it is accurate. Users can be sure data is input for the correct worker, the correct day, correct cost code, the correct project, etc. so that people get paid correctly, that the labor force can be managed appropriately, and that the estimating team at the end of the project can use that data to make an accurate prediction the next time. Data quality is one critical value that a good User Interface brings. Another benefit of good UI is that it puts a bit of a safety plan in place. If data is not entered correctly for some reason, Rhumbix allows users to true things up and modify as needed. When talking with our customers, it’s obvious they know exactly what’s going on. They know the people involved and where they’re supposed to be. They are extremely hard working and give a lot of attention to detail to ensure everything is input and managed correctly. So, if something in the system looks a bit off, they spot it – and we made it easy for them to adjust information as they require. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure accurate data because it’s of utmost importance to their bottom line, revenue, and having successful projects.
Q: Do you have anything else to share?
A: Yes, I’d like to let our customers know that I’m incredibly thankful for all the feedback I receive when asking questions and trying to uncover ways we can continue to do better. There isn’t a single UI element we have done or could do without our customers’ input. Not only is our team here very collaborative, but our interactions with our customers are just as collaborative, and it shows. It’s why our product is doing so well and is so easy to use. The more people we talk to, the better it gets! So, in addition to my appreciation, I’ll add an appeal–if you see my name come across your inbox asking for feedback, I’d love to talk to you! We’ll talk about different UI choices, your job, the decisions you need to make, and what’s important to you. You can trust that every ounce of feedback is poured into our product somehow.