Product design

How to Design Workflow Management Software That Helps Streamline Work


mins to read

Did you know that in most companies employees spend only about 60% of their work time ( often even less) productively? You may be wondering, what is the remaining 40% spent on, then? Well, employees spend this time attending meetings, writing long emails, filling in spreadsheets, trying to find the needed document or file in loads of other information, and so forth. 

No matter what size your company is, managing repetitive business processes can be quite tedious and even challenging as it requires dealing with organizational chaos, thinking out branching paths, and looking for a variety of auxiliary tools. 

Workflow management software (WMS) aims at helping you fight this complexity, reduce distractions and streamline your work activities. Being a team of product designers, at Eleken, we had a chance to design workflow management SaaS from scratch and in this article, we want to share our experience with you.

Below we are going to cover the following topics:

  • What is workflow management software?
  • What should a workflow management system possess to be effective?
  • What are integral parts of the workflow management software design process? 

What is workflow management software?

Let’s try to explain this term gradually, word by word. And we should start with the notion of “workflow”.

Workflow is a repeatable set of steps performed in a sequential manner over time, which enables people and systems to achieve a certain goal. Establishing workflows and ensuring that they are implemented effectively is a key factor in running a successful business.

Most workflows are complex and include many steps (information handoff, interactions between different people/departments of an organization, and so on). 

workflow example

This complexity leads to inefficiency, inconsistency, and impaired productivity. As an organization, we need to ask ourselves: “Are we operating as efficiently and effectively as possible?”. This is where workflow management comes in.

The goal of workflow management is to understand and determine what tasks need to be executed, in what order they need to be accomplished, who is involved, what systems are being used, and what rules are being followed.

And finally, not to deal with all the above-mentioned stuff manually, you can use workflow management software. Its features allow you to automate tasks and enable project team members to create, update, and manage task progress throughout the project.

What should a workflow management system possess to be effective?

The workflow management software is supposed to deal with complicated processes to streamline your work, such as:

  • Establish relationships between tasks
  • Create and manage subtasks
  • Set up a task to repeat at a specific time or date
  • Assign tasks to one or more people
  • Import task list from an external file, and more.

To effectively cope with those duties WMS should have the following characteristics:

Be cloud-based

In 2021 the benefits of using SaaS technology are obvious and don’t need long explanations. Investing in making your WMS cloud-based ensures your team can work from anywhere, all tasks are regularly updated and maintained and you receive not a one-time deal, but an ongoing experience that gives you continual value.

Integrations with other tools

DO workflow management software integrate with other tools? Monday.com example
Integration page of Monday.com. Image credit: support.monday.com

When scaling, businesses tend to adopt more solutions over time. Therefore, the ability of WMS to integrate with these existing solutions plays a big role. 

The best project management tools have many integrations either directly, via  Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), or webhooks. The flexible solution can easily integrate with many popular apps and services used by companies today, such as Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, Salesforce, or Dropbox. Zoho Projects, Monday.com, Asana, and many other project management vendors offer numerous integrations to connect to other types of business software.

Reporting and analytics

reporting and analytics feature in Asana
Task reporting in Asana. Image credit: asana.com

Large teams have a great need to track and analyze key workflow data from various sources. They need workflow management software with a reporting and analytics engine to display the following metrics to help them successfully complete tasks and deliver projects:

  • Average process time
  • Average time per task
  • Tasks by stage of completion
  • The number of tasks per team member
  • Points, hours, or other metrics that indicate the importance of the task

Reporting and analytics in your WMS can help to indicate process bottlenecks or other indicators of required performance. They help the team build a plan on how to increase productivity based on real data.

Conditional logic

Conditional logic lets you set rules and conditions in your processes to show variable tasks based on the information you record. 

For example, when you hire a new employee you need someone to approve (or reject) the candidate. Depending on the job position, you may need approval from people from different departments. So as not to create many workflows, you establish the so-called "conditional branches". Accordingly, if the candidate is a content writer, the approval goes to a content manager, and when hiring a UI/UX designer, their CV goes to a UX lead.

Creating conditional branches should be easy even for non-tech users.

No-code, intuitive design

As workflow management systems aim at clearing up messy processes, they should provide the best user experience possible. A good WMS lets any non-tech savvy person create, change and manage workflows, while all complex processes are done by the system.

Adding ready-made, customizable workflow templates to your system will be a huge plus as well.

CRM template example at Monday.com
CRM template example. Image credit: monday.com

What are integral parts of the workflow management software design process? 

Great apps are not the result of the genius designer (although it also contributes), but of the correctly organized process that leads the designer to a great solution.

The phases of the product design process we are going to analyze below are based on the Eleken design team's experience they got from working on Process Place, a workflow management system created to clear up headache work activities.

Though we are used to depicting the design process as a sequence of steps, it’s never linear, you constantly have to go back and forth to test and refine your design decisions. But to give you a clear picture, we singled out major vital components without which it would be impossible to create an effective workflow management tool. Here they are:

Competitor analysis

When it comes to project management workflow software, there are dozens of apps that come to mind, like Monday.com, Asana, Notion, Kissflow, and others. 

best workflow management software

It becomes clear that there are many rivals in this field and, to be able to survive in a highly competitive environment, you have to define what features are must-haves for task management workflow software and what unique features can make you stand out on the market. It’s a task of competitive analysis.

Getting back to our experience with Process Place, conducting competitive research played a vital role and allowed us to define that most products on the market are confusing due to lack of intuitiveness in their interface. Consequently, creating an intuitive user interface became a competitive advantage of Process Place. 

ATS onboarding
Process Place onboarding screen

User research

“Empathy is at the heart of design. Without the understanding of what others see, feel, and experience, design is a pointless task.” Tim Brown, CEO at IDEO.

Which type of user research you should use depends on both your workflow and your reasons for doing such research. In general, studying your customers helps:

  • To create a design that is completely relevant to your user and takes into account their pain points.
  • To create designs that are simple and enjoyable to use.

Our team conducted user interviews to create a tool that helps people cope with real existing issues. 

We talked to HRs, as target audience representatives, about their regular workflow — hiring a new employee. The insights from those interviews were visualized on a customer journey map and helped us better understand customers’ needs. 

Customer journey map created for Process Place
Customer journey map created for Process Place

For example, during the interview, we learned that to have the hiring process documented HRs need to collaborate with the team on it. “We had to hire a business process assistant to coordinate this process”, says the interviewed user. Therefore, there is a need to teach the team to use a new tool.

For that reason, in Process Place you can easily assign or invite new team members. And for newbies to adapt quickly, there is an intuitive onboarding.

ATS onboarding design
“Invite new member” feature
ATS onboarding design
Short tooltips to make onboarding easy and fast


workflow management system wireframe

When all the needed research is done, it’s time to put together the insights we got from it and turn them into a consistent user experience with the help of wireframing.

Wireframes are an essential step in any design process that serves as a skeleton of the future app. Wireframes primarily define the information hierarchy in your design. They help determine the place of elements in the layout, depending on how we would like the users to perceive the information. They allow the designer to plan the layout of elements and interaction with the interface without being distracted by the choice of color, font, or even text.

When the structure is ready, it’s time to think about the look of the software. 

UI design

People today are overwhelmed with information and tend to choose products that are easy to understand and easy to interact with, especially when it comes to tools that deal with workflow process automation.

From the experience of our design agency in the SaaS industry, we know that a good user interface is important in the sense that it helps your target audience solve their problems effectively with your product. The user interface is designed to display features that you offer, without any ambiguity, it grabs your users' attention and helps them easily navigate through the app.

The user interface not only focuses on aesthetics, but also maximizes the responsiveness, efficiency, and accessibility of the product.

As you remember, the competitive advantage of Process Place is its intuitive user interface, here’s how we designed it:

  • Blue-grey color palette according to the laws of color harmony
  • Distinctive and readable text styles
ATS typography example
  • Minimalistic and easy-to-perceive interface
UI kit for a workflow management tool
  • Unique and memorable illustrations

Ready to create your workflow process software?

The greatest challenge of designing such an application is to be able to turn the chaos of business processes into intuitive and user-friendly interfaces. 

To cope with this challenge, talk to your users to identify what matters the most for them, see what your rivals’ products advantages and disadvantages are, make sure each icon/button in your app has its clear purpose, and once the product is ready, learn how to market SaaS software to successfully present it to the world. 

If you still have some doubts about how to design workflow management software, let’s do it together — contact Eleken!

Kateryna Mayka


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Product design
min read

Designing Geospatial Data Products: Overcoming Challenges for Success

As of now, there are over 11,000 satellites orbiting the Earth. And we don’t seem to stop there, as there have already been 1,354 objects launched into space in the first half of 2023. So, it’s safe to say that geospatial data and technology are no longer niche sectors but are quite common these days.

While the advantages of using geospatial data are clear, designing geospatial data applications presents many challenges. When creating such products, designers should consider many factors, namely the level of detail, the visualization paradigm, the sophistication of the required demonstration, the data volume, the user's level of knowledge and ability to interact with map data, and so on. 

Luckily, you have Eleken to help you out. Our experience of working with geospatial SaaS products, like Involi, Astraea, and Gamaya, allowed us to identify the most common challenges and choose the best UI/UX design practices to overcome them. And we want to share them with you.

Are geospatial data products worth the investment?

In short, yes. Geospatial data has the potential to benefit us all, serving as the basis for strategic decision-making and helping minimize risks in many areas, such as business development, production, strategic issues,  risk management, and agriculture. Demand for such data increases day by day. It is expected that this segment market will be worth over $96 billion by 2025. 

Venture capital (VC) investments in the geospatial data sector are growing, supporting the appearance of new solutions, tools, and data sources. In 2020, US startups in the geospatial domain raised over $2 billion in VC funding. 

According to the Geospatial Industry Advancing Sustainable Development Goals report, the societal impact is expected to be more important and valuable than the economic impact. The table below shows that emerging geospatial technologies have already improved resource efficiency and productivity, creating a high-value impact on economies and raising billions of dollars across the world.

Geospatial Industry Advancing Sustainable Development Goals report
Geospatial Industry Advancing Sustainable Development Goals report

Sure, companies that invest in developing geospatial data products gain a competitive advantage. However, designing these solutions is not something that can be approached by junior designers, and here’s why. 

Why are geospatial data products difficult to design?

Geospatial data applications deal with complex data types, such as satellite imagery, aerial photographs, terrain models, topographic maps, and various spatial datasets. These data can be static (the location of a piece of equipment or earthquake event) and dynamic (a moving vehicle or the spread of an infectious disease). 

For most startups, developing data-heavy geospatial data apps is a tough nut to crack. They need to make this data organized and user-friendly for non-experts, which is complex and challenging by default. What's more, it takes a lot of time and effort to assemble imagery and visualize geospatial data in an intuitive and visually appealing manner. That's why, having experienced designers and developers on board is a must for geospatial data solutions. 

Now, onto the challenges.

Visualization and user experience challenges

Here are some of the challenges we personally encountered while designing geospatial data products and ways to overcome them.

  • Showing data from different sources

Satellite data and drone imagery are becoming increasingly popular in many industries, from engineering to agriculture. Still, it is not so easy to analyze different photos from various sources and glue them together in the right order. And we just can’t help mentioning our project, Gamaya, as an example here.

Gamaya is an AI-powered SaaS platform that collects agricultural data from NASA remote sensing satellite data and drone images and gives its customers knowledge about their crops. To let users see data from multiple data sources, Eleken designers organized the platform's components into layers.

Gamaya layers
Gamaya layers

The drone images, combined with red highlights on the map, allow users to see planting gaps:

Gamaya drone images
Gamaya drone images

Apart from images, another data visualization option is to organize data into tables. They help users view and track information across different fields and locations.

Gamaya tables
Gamaya tables
  • Visualizing layers and objects 

When designing maps, it is critical to distinguish each layer visually from others. This helps users understand what types of data are presented as well as simplifies navigation. To achieve this goal, Eleken designers use different colors, line styles, and patterns. 

For example, our team needed to display solar panel installations and wind turbine locations for Greenventory, an energy solution for calculating necessary energy resource placement and generating reports. Our designers used one distinct color for solar panels and another for wind turbines. This clear color distinction helped users recognize and differentiate various types of data. 

To let users switch between different layers and turn them on/off, we also implemented the toggle buttons on the right. And to prevent layers from overlapping, our team offered opacity and transparency settings. 

Greenventory layers and objects
Greenventory layers and objects

Another critical aspect to consider is choosing the right color palettes and themes for geospatial products. For this type of solutions, colors become a language that carries the information value. Users associate most phenomena with particular colors unconsciously and expect them to be connected with a specific color, namely blue for everything related to water, brown for mountains, green for nature, red for potentially dangerous actions, and so on. 

Knowing the basics of colors used in cartography and spatial data visualization would be a great plus as well. Our UI/UX designer Alex also notes that all colors should work with every mode or type of the base map: light and dark, flat and satellite. Each mode, in turn, presents unique challenges. This means that colors that work well in one mode might not be as effective in another one. To avoid overloading the user visually and mentally, there should be visual boundaries that have sufficient contrast with the adjacent background.

Different colors for different modes in Greenventory
Different colors for different modes in Greenventory
Different colors for different modes in Greenventory
  • Simplifying the search process

It’s typical that geospatial data app users have to manage large amounts of information, which might lead to information overload. For example, Astraea, a geospatial SaaS startup, allows its users to acquire, discover, and analyze satellite data at scale. But at first, it was hard for users to work with so much data at once. To overcome this challenge, our designers categorized the navigation menu. Each category is located behind an icon on the right side of the screen. For searching and information sorting, we added filters at the right. 

Astraea filters
Astraea filters
  • Taking a lot of time and effort to create complex components

As your user base grows, the development costs, as well as app complexity, may rise. Yet, if developers write code in components, they can add or reuse existing components for new technologies, which helps reduce development time and improve the ROI.

Many apps today are created on React, a popular front-end library. Developers opt for React, as its reusable components help them reduce software development time dramatically. For example, while working with Gamaya’s team, Eleken designers offered to use Ant Design, a ready-made React UI library, and adapted the platform’s design to this library. As a result, our clients could reuse materials from the library and build new products faster, saving time, costs, and resources.

UI component library
 UI component library
  • Overlapping and details representation when zooming in and out

Users often zoom in or out to see maps at various scales. The challenge here lies in the map's ability to dynamically adjust the zoom level based on different factors like screen size or user preferences. Let’s look at Greenventory once again. Our designer created a progressive loading mechanism when essential data points load initially, and additional points load as the user zooms in. In this case, the app displays only relevant data loaded at each zoom level. There is no unnecessary data overload, and, as a result, the loading speed is increasing.

Greenventory progressive loading mechanism
Greenventory progressive loading mechanism
Greenventory progressive loading mechanism

Another Eleken project to highlight here is ReVeal, a solution for analyzing data for real estate. The app users have to browse a map with many objects to find out how regularly people visit a shop, whether the rental location is favorable, and so on. Such actions affect the app speed. 

To optimize the design and improve the application performance, our designers offered to group the objects on the maps. When users zoom out to see the whole map of the chosen city, the number of spots on the map is limited to neighborhoods. Users can view all objects at this location by clicking or hovering on the group spot.

Grouping the objects on the map
Grouping the objects on the map
Grouping the objects on the map


Designing geospatial products isn’t a walk in the park. To advance the use of geospatial technologies and accelerate geospatial innovation, startups should collaborate with design experts. Bringing the UI/UX designer on board early will provide a solid foundation for future growth, making the solution easy to use and understand, as well as scalable, effective, and accessible. 

Not every designer has enough expertise and in-demand niche skills for designing such data-heavy products. But we do. Our team has extensive experience in designing interfaces that manage imagery data and provide a logical and intuitive flow for users. 

It is unusual to find a designer who has experience building applications with geospatial data - especially imagery data. We found that in Eleken.

Jamie Conklin, VP of Product at Astraea

Contact us, and we will provide you with the best expert for the project, no matter how complex and data-intensive it is.

Product design
min read

Product Design Outsourcing: When Is This a Good Idea?

It’s been more than two decades since outsourcing became a big thing in the global world. Basically, digital product industries were born to the world that was already used to outsourcing. Now the pendulum has tilted a few times from one side to another, and it’s time to look at the situation critically and find the right balance between outsourcing everything and keeping all the processes in-house.

As a UI/UX design agency, we constantly have to talk to people who want to outsource product design. Does it mean that for our benefit, we just have to convince the doubting ones to outsource? Not really, as many products don’t really need an external product designer, and we won’t be doing a good job trying to work with them.

Outsourcing solves serious hiring problems and creates new opportunities for both sides: your team and the product designer. It’s not only about cutting costs, as many people mistakenly think. Approaching outsourcing wisely means considering both advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at some of them.


Benefits of product design outsource: - Wide talent pool. - Money/time saving. - Flexibility

Wide talent pool

When you decide to outsource design work, you can choose professionals and agencies from all over the world. They don’t need to stay in the office all day, have work permits, or live nearby, like in-house team members. As a result, you can find bright minds, who wouldn't have joined your team if you hired only locally.

Finding an external designer also has a valuable effect of “outsider’s view”, when a newcomer can see it better than people who have been working with the product for a while and thus can’t see it without biases.

Money/time saving

Hiring is often a costly and lengthy process. Screening through hundreds of candidates, interviewing them, writing and giving test tasks, onboarding… You may have to go through all of this a thousand times before you get your dream product design team. Outsourcing is a shortcut that lets you focus on the product rather than on all the administration and overhead.

Cost saving is another common reason for outsourcing. Even if the hourly rate of a remote designer is higher than that of the in-house designer, all the added costs such as hiring, social security, office expenses are what tip the balance.


Outsourcing product design team means you can easily scale or change the direction whenever there is a need. What if you decide to add a new feature that goes beyond your design team's expertise and capacities? Or build a minimum viable product (MVP) and test it fast before taking a decision to invest in it seriously? In a rapidly changing digital world, flexibility is the key to success.


Challenges of product design outsource:    - Security  - Not knowing the customers  - Communication

Security issues

Outsourcing means making your company’s internal information available  to people you barely know using devices that you don’t have control over and maybe even living in a country where the state does not have certain cyber safety regulations. This is a serious concern, and that’s why many companies never consider outsourcing.

The first solution might be sharing less. It makes perfect sense, but when we work with our clients, we know that our product design really benefits from sharing more data, even the things that may seem unnecessary. However, we always sign the NDA before we start the trial, so that we keep our clients and our company safe.

Not knowing the customers

When working on the product for a long time, you get to know your customers very well (we hope you do). An outsourcing company is likely to know nothing about them. It complicates empathizing, which is one of the essential elements of product design. What is more, when remote product designers live in a different country, their culture and experience might be so different that they may not consider things that would be obvious for you. 

For example, when you are used to 50 Mbps internet speed, you know that a page loading more than 2 seconds will annoy people and lead to high bounce rates. At the same time, people who are used to a different internet speed, may not realize this problem. This is just a typical case, and there are many more stories of globalization causing misunderstandings.

Communication (disconnected from the team)

The “out” part of “outsourcing” points at the outside-of-the-team position of the product designer, whilst they are performing one of the core functions. When the designer is not a part of group team gatherings, office coffee gossip, and random Slack chats, they may miss some things about the product that are not written, but are somehow crucial in establishing a fruitful communication within the team.

Communication issues are common for many remote teams, but even more common for outsourcing. Establishing the system of communication, handing out the materials, keeping the documentation in order occupies the time that managers hoped to save with the help of outsourcing. In this matter, we have some tips on designing with remote teams that you might find useful.

When outsourcing is a good idea

Outsource product design when:  -  MVP at the initial stage  - Redesign  - Short-term project

While being aware of the abovementioned factors, the main consideration for you should be the situation of your product, team dynamics, capacity, and the product roadmap. Here are some of the most common scenarios that our clients find themselves in when coming to us:

  1. MVP at the initial stage

This situation relates mostly to startups that have a clear product idea and a group of developers, but need someone to put it all together into a usable and visually pleasing form. At this stage, many startups would hire an in-house designer. The latter option would work great when they know how much design work and for how long they need in the future. However, in many cases the amount of work is not clear yet. What is more, the founders may not have the necessary experience to find the right product designer.

2. Redesign project

This is where the “outsider’s eye” is arguably the most valuable benefit of outsourcing. You may have an awesome designer working on your product steadily for years, but at some point, your product might need a redesign, and that’s when a fresh pair of eyes is crucial. From our experience with products such as TextMagic, we can assure you that in-house designer + outsourced product designers make a perfect combination for a redesign project.

3. Short-term projects

New features, tests, updates… Sometimes you realize you’ve got enough work for three full-time designers, but in three months' time, the workload will be much lower. That’s the right scenario for outsourcing when flexibility is the most important thing.

When you should not outsource design

When you should NOT outsource product design: - The objectives are not 100% clear. - Project consistency is at risk

We are far from saying that outsourcing is a magic pill for all the product design issues. There are certain cases when this strategy won’t work best and you should think of other options.

When things are not 100% clear for you

Sometimes you don’t have a clear picture of where you are going and how to get there. And it’s totally fine not to have a roadmap and plans for the next 5 years. Accept it and take some time to discuss and find the right way. Finding a good product designer may help to get you there, but it may also just waste the time of both parties and result in mutual confusion. When the objectives are not 100% defined, opt for consultancy, audit, or just a piece of advice rather than looking for outsourcing product design.

When consistency of a long-term project is at risk

When you start outsourcing product design when the product is in the active development phase, you may end up with a product, different parts of which are inconsistent and lack common ground. And a design system doesn’t always help with that. If you want to have product design outsourced in the long-run, find an in-house designer who would coordinate the work of freelancers or agencies.


Knowing all of the outsourcing challenges, we did our best to create a collaboration system that smoothes the rough edges out and lets a product designer be a part of the in-house team rather than a remote alien. We call it team extension: a model when our designer (or few of them) joins your team to work on the product.

Our product designers don’t talk only through managers (we don’t even have an account manager on our side). They collaborate with developers as well as with product owners. Product designers become part of the client’s team — all this without any hiring fuss – and stay with you as long as needed: a month, a year, or more. We go through all the product design processes with you, from research to design, and build the product together.

Still doubting whether you need to outsource product design? Contact us and find out how you can extend your team.

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