Preview video of Power Automate Desktop featuring my designs

Power Automate Desktop (PAD) overview

"Connect old and new systems and reduce repetitive tasks using UI-based automation with desktop flows—the robotic process automation (RPA) capability in Power Automate."

Put more simply, PAD is a tool that saves its users valueable time from doing repetitive tasks on their computers. Users can record mouse clicks along with keyboard actions and have the computer repeat the same actions by itself.

A simple example: let's say you've received an email that contains data and you want that transfered into Excel and/or other online platforms. Do it once while recording your actions and you'll never have to do it again!

Problems

Before PAD came to be, it was called WinAutomation and it was owned by Softomotive. Joining the team found me facing 3 main problems with the product:

1. Dated

WinAutomation was built by developers who didn't really care of its looks. Folks unanimously agreed that it looked visually dated and out of touch with modern design.

2. Hard to use

All of the UX patterns thus far were shaped by developers. To include a larger user base, we had to simplify user journeys.

3. Inaccessible

Tools such as this should be usable by everyone regardless of their physical, cognitive and emotional abilities.

How can we help a large audience save time with a modern and easy to use tool?

Goals

Up until that point, the tool was mainly used by advanced users with intermediate development knowledge. The goal we set for us was to create a new group of people called "citizen developers".

Traditionally, application development has been handled by people who are formally trained as software engineers.

Now, with the new version of PAD, novices with a few weeks of training can develop useful applications and become citizen developers.

Getting started

Before anything, I took some time to really get into the product. I did multiple tests by using almost all possible actions and followed the available training courses to really dive deep.

Since one of my jobs would be to respectfully take the product to the next level, I would have to know all the pain points users faced.

UI facelift

One of the main problems of the tool was its dated look.

Along with the rest of the design team, we tried out many color combinations and conducted company wide research to see which theme would get the most votes.

Purple (somehow) won!

Another example →

Iconography

WinAutomation's icons were also included in the new design. The design team worked really hard to define the specifications of the icons for each possible application throughout all screens.

WinAutomation is a desktop app with various limitations which made it really hard for the team to clearly define how we'd move ahead.

Which sizes would we support? How big would the canvas be? Would we use existing icons? Would we design everything from scratch? Would they be outlined or filled? Would we have light or duo-tone versions? We experimented quite a bit and saw many ways to get the job done.

My role in all this included the initial research before we got started, the cataloging of all the icons we needed and then the production of at least 100 icons.

The toolbar was also an area I focused on.

Check out below some of the versions I tried before ending up with Version 4 →

Toolbar exploration

The control desk

Along with WinAutomation, we were offering an enterprise version of the product called "ProcessRobot".

Control desk was part of the ProcessRobot app and it was an admin view of users, processes and resources.

While redesigning that, we thought it'd be a good idea to experiment a bit on a dark theme too →

UX improvements

Once the UI improvements were in place, it was time to take UX to the next level.

The standards we had set for ourselves were high. We needed to make this tool comprehensible to novice users.

Starting with multiple user journeys and basic wireframes, I conducted internal user tests. Iterations upon iterations I delivered the final mockups based on the newly established design system.

Move mouse to image step by step user journey

To get a better understanding of our user, we put together a persona to which we could feel empathy for.

HTML prototype

Just to get a better idea of how things were coming together, I worked on a basic HTML prototype.

Click here to check it out.

Inclusive design

Both as a designer and a human being, I care deeply about working with teammates who have a strong sense of humanity.

The choices I make both personally and as a designer, are guided by the wellbeing of people, communities and the environment.

In alignment with this philosophy, I strive the products I design (including this portfolio), to be accessible and usable by everyone regardless of their physical, cognitive and emotional abilities.

In that same spirit Microsoft emphasizes accessibility. That's why my designs always passed accessility tests and I personally overlooked the developement process and checked that screen readers with high contrast modes didn't break the UX.

To find out more about accessibility guidelines, download the inclusive design manual.

Microsoft's inclusive design manual

Microsoft Power Automate Desktop

Following Softomotive's acquisition by Microsoft, I worked on the branding transition. A tedious process which took some time to complete.

With quite a few months of back and forth between design teams in Athens and Seatle, we finally managed to convert the product's theme into something that passed both aesthetic and accessibility requirements with flying colours!

The new guidelines

A sample of the work we delivered to the developers in order to be consistent across the product.

A meticulous process that paid off.

To sum up

Overall, this was a vastly demanding project. Tons of research went into every design iteration and countless tests which resulted into an absolutely powerful product.

Design team

UX design lead - George Karvelis

Senior designer - Savvas Kontos

Senior designer - Trifon Danaskos

Junior product designer - Katerina Alifonsou