Designing the OneLogin Developer Site Experience

December 22nd, 2015   /     /   company news, product and technology

One of our milestone achievements this year was designing and launching a new developers site.

For those unfamiliar, a developer site typically just provides developers with all the resources they need to hook into a platform. For the OneLogin developer site, we had an additional goal: to promote the usage of open source technologies we care about, such as SAML, NAPPS, and SCIM. We wanted to both empower developers with our API docs and dynamic testing tools, and equip security and IT experts with the info needed to champion these technologies themselves.

But as designers, we also challenged ourselves to provide a unique developer site experience.

The right content for the right people

Getting the content right was key. We needed to serve both developers and general IT security enthusiasts really well, without creating a disjointed experience. This challenge was enthusiastically taken up by our talented information architect and content strategist. Thanks to her, developers get clean and clear API docs to get up and running ASAP, while general IT security evangelists can peruse our topic pages for a higher-level overview of OneLogin security concepts.

Striking a balance between two sets of personas is an art. Once the content was there, a narrative that threads through them became the real challenge.

The narrative

In 2010, two fearless Danish engineers founded OneLogin. They wanted to challenge the way single sign-on in a browser was done, and how identity information was managed and shared. They soon succeeded in gaining significant momentum. Their solution was different from the competition in many respects. The two that resonated most strongly with the community were openness and simplicity.

OneLogin pioneered using SAML and built the company’s core on it. At the time, SAML’s second version was just established as a standard. But in the following years, sided with other driving forces, OneLogin pushed SAML to reach its technical maturity and adoption.

Openness and builders’ spirit

The overall art direction was inspired by the open source development community, and the builder’s spirit that comes with it. Graphic elements are in the style of architectural blueprints, demonstrated by the line art and the interior breakdowns of devices. Symbols like forward slashes and open angle brackets are familiar visual cues to our audience of developers.

This reflects the commitment to openness and transparency of OneLogin, whose core is built around key open security standards, for which we provide dev toolkits and industry expertise.

A step-by-step journey

Scrolling down the landing page, developers are given steps to take integrating enterprise-grade security into their app. It’s a progressive, level-by-level journey that unlocks a person from an expert to a builder to an evangelist. This was inspired by conversations with developers and evangelists, in which we examined all touch points they mentioned — obstacles, ticking points and what made it work in the end.

Live diagrams

The animated diagrams were inspired by the act of quickly explaining and visualizing a complicated process on a whiteboard or the back of a napkin. Evangelists told us that they build a diagram incrementally while explaining it, making it easier for their audience to learn a complicated subject easily. We wanted to replicate that with design. We worked with technologists, a content strategist and prototyper to storyboard the sequence, and make that into animations you see on the landing page and topic pages.

Topic pages

While the journey and animations make a great scheme, all the subjects still required a deep dive. Some new subjects also would need promotion to drive traffic. Thus, we resurfaced them as topic pages to make them easily accessible from the top navigation. These pages provide an in-depth explanation of each subject.

In designing the topic pages, we emphasized transparency and objectivity by presenting facts and statistics that would help people quickly compare with their requirements, and get a sense of how widely a standard is adopted. We believe facts dispel doubts and enhance clarity.

API docs

One of the key features we have been optimizing, ever since the site was in its alpha phase, is our ability to help developers find the right API, connect to it, and test it in real time. We conducted extensive experiments with different API doc tools, but soon came to the conclusion we should build our own.

With our unique set of requirements, tough expectations for performance and high bar on the user experience, out-of-box solutions just wouldn’t cut it. We are now building our own API doc templates with the help of a few open source tools to create a highly useful, interactive doc experience. It’s a work in progress, and we hope to reveal it to the world very soon.

Humanized contact- No auto reply system

One thing that was engineered into the design, but invisible to any viewer, was our high-touch support. When you click on “Contact” or “Learn More” anywhere on the site, that will send a message straight to the inbox of a OneLogin product team member. To keep people engaged, we take great pains to avoid sending a “non-reply” response. Moving forward, we are hoping to add a commenting feature so people can exchange ideas and ask questions.

More to come

We designed developers.onelogin.com to be a place that promotes open source standards and we hope that it helps software builders around the world create secure, easy-to-use authentication solutions.

Feel free to go check out the site and be sure to give us feedback! For folks that want to be part of the effort, we are also looking for great people to join the team and help us continue to deliver great experiences!

About the Author

Penfan Sun is the Director of User Experience at OneLogin where she is leading the product design and user research. She has 10+ -year long track record of creating designs that changed or created new product directions for companies like Salesforce, OnAir Player and SAP.

 She is specialized in crafting design strategies and tangible deliverables that result in seamless end-to-end product experience for desktop, web, mobile, to touch-screen devices. She holds a Master of Interaction Design from Carnegie Mellon University.

View all posts by Penfan Sun