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Starting March 4th, we will roll out a navigation update to Carta. Redesigning any feature is an introspective undertaking, particularly when working on an update as prominent as a site’s navigation. In addition to building for the future, this redesign was an opportunity for us to take what we’ve heard and learned from you and improve our current design.
We last refreshed Carta’s navigation as part of a broader redesign in April 2017. Since then, Carta has changed a lot (and not just our name). We’ve added products and features to delight our users and new user groups with complicated legal structures are now supported. As we continue to grow, our UI must be as flexible as our market demands.
We’d like to highlight a few ways we’ve used quantitative and qualitative data to inform these decisions. It’s our sincere hope that the new navigation is cleaner and clearer than ever.
Make finding things easier.
Our account management and support teams aim to deliver a delightful experience, so we track and categorize support conversations. It’s telling when customer support tags conversations with users who can’t find features. These exchanges aren’t generated from bugs or incorrect data, they’re from people who simply can’t find what they want to do. A few illustrative (and embarrassing) requests we hear too often are how do I find my portfolio?, how do I get back to my tasks?, and even how do I log out? That’s a failure on our part; we must provide clarity rather than confusion.
Adapt the navigation to accommodate growing network complexity.
Over the past year, the Carta network grew in size and complexity. Users regularly take on multiple roles. Company administrators manage both company data and their personal holdings. Professional investors navigate across funds as well as advisory and board relationships. Legal administrators manage more companies and tasks than ever before.
Carta’s current navigation is optimized for users that have access to 5 or fewer portfolios, companies, or other legal entities. From our data, we know users with access to >5 entities are among our fastest growing groups. These power users manage multiple experiences as employees, investors, board members, legal administrators, accountants, and advisors. But our power user experience isn’t straightforward. For example, to search beyond the 5 default entities shown, users must take 4 actions: (1) hover on the left navigation bar, (2) wait for the navigation to expand, (3) click on View all, and (4) navigate to the search box. That’s too much work, so the new design makes searching accessible and clear.
Old entity switcher:
New entity switcher:
Make the hierarchy clearer.
Our navigation consists of two navigation structures with a defined hierarchy. The first navigation is specific to each user: tasks, downloads, profile, settings, help, and switching between companies and portfolios. The second navigation includes features specific to the selected company or portfolio. Company navigation includes tools for managing ownership: cap table reports, stakeholder ledgers, compliance flows, etc. Portfolio navigation includes views related to holding information and performance.
Currently, the left navigation bar is for account actions. Depending on the selected company or portfolio, the entity-specific secondary navigation changes. User feedback and data suggests that this relationship isn’t clear. Moving the primary navigation above the secondary navigation provides relationship clarity. When a user chooses to view a company, company information will appear below. That makes sense to us too.
Appreciate the details.
As we dove into quantitative and qualitative data, we were surprised to find that a few basic design choices didn’t work in reality. Some of these were small, but they didn’t create an optimal experience for our users. For example, the left-hand navigation displays a max of ~33 characters for company or portfolio names. This horizontal character limit is too constrictive. The average and median number of characters in legal names of funds or portfolios is 24.8 and 25 respectively. Moving to a horizontal navigation allows users to see complete names of their company and portfolio. It’s small, but users notice these things (and tell us about it).
Plan for the future.
We will continue to add new products and features to delight our users. New legal structures and user requests will emerge. We’re reinvesting in our navigation to plan for these events. We hope we delight you in this process of creative iteration, now and in the future.
As we prepare to introduce Carta’s refreshed navigation, we’d like to express gratitude to our users who collaborated with us in the design process. Users eagerly joined screen-sharing sessions and invited us to their offices. Our team learned so much from these conversations. Thank you for your thoughts and guidance.