By Amy Chick

Blog

Sneak Peek: Freedom Software Updates Coming Soon

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Great software is always a work in progress. At Accrisoft, we have a team of developers working constantly to maintain and improve the Freedom software.

One of our developers, Stephanie, has been working on some big changes behind the scenes. She created a mobile-friendly version of our Freedom software, which will make a big difference to our users who need to access the system away from a computer. She also updated the look and feel of the interface by replacing outdated gradients with a flat design; updating to fresher, more modern fonts; and brightening the color scheme.

I chatted with Stephanie this week to learn more about the updates. Find out more below about how Freedom is changing, and check out the end of this post to see what the new interface will look like!

Amy: What kind of time and resources went into this project?

Stephanie: There are so many people who put time and thought into making these updates. We had plenty of meetings to decide whether we wanted to go responsive, for example, and how we wanted to lay out the mobile version. We worked with a designer who invested a lot of time into building wireframes, which I used as a guide for the design. Personally, I dedicated a full two weeks just to cleaning up Freedom’s structure, prepping everything to go mobile, and building a new stylesheet to match the designs.

Amy: What aspect of this project was the most fun for you?

Stephanie: I’ve been looking forward to this project for a while now. It was a lot of fun to actually dive into the code and start working on areas that haven’t been touched in a while. Plus, Accrisoft has a great mix of awesome people and interesting personalities working here — so I came across some developer humor in the comments and documentation that made me laugh.

Amy: How will Accrisoft Freedom users benefit from the changes you made?

Stephanie: For computer users, the updated interface will just look clean and fresh but the experience won’t change much. The real benefit is for people who need to access Freedom "on the go."

Before this change, you could use Freedom on a phone or tablet, but everything was very small — especially on a phone. This required a lot of pinch-zooming in and out. The idea of going responsive was to give people a better experience on mobile, because more and more web traffic is coming from that source.

We moved the module sidebar into a pop-out menu, which gives users more space to access information and use the software. We also adjusted the tables and forms so the content is more accessible. With the new mobile version, there’s very little need for sideways scrolling or pinch-zooming. We also made changes which allow areas that used to require a mouse hover (for example, our module switcher) to work with a simple tap. All these updates make for a much more user-friendly experience.

The new responsive setup is pretty basic at the moment, and will likely evolve as we get more customer feedback, but it already makes a huge difference in accessibility if you have to log into a Freedom site from a phone or tablet.

Amy: What obstacles and struggles did you encounter during this project? How were they resolved?

Stephanie: Because of the sheer scope of the project, we definitely encountered a few obstacles along the way.

There was a lot of back and forth in the beginning as we ironed out the design details — a lot of little elements needed to be addressed as we moved deeper into the project. Everyone is really passionate about this project, so debates over design decisions were often put to a vote in the office. This can cause minor delays, but in the end creates a better experience for our users.

It was also very important to us that we built a design that would work well on all of the main popular platforms. I have a stack of borrowed mobile devices that I’ve been using to test iOS and Android but I didn’t have access to a Windows Mobile phone at first. There are device emulators available in online browsers, but they don’t always catch all the issues — so once I was able to test on this platform, I had to backtrack a bit to address some coding issues.

Help Us Make Freedom Even Better

Our work is never done! We’re always working to make Freedom better. You can help by actively using the software and testing out the new setup. Then, send us feedback in the forums so we can continue helping you build amazing websites.

The updates will go live soon — in the meantime, here's a quick preview of the new interface:

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