Appian is a low-code platform that focuses on creating and deploying workflow automation applications. The Solutions team within Appian extends the low-code platform to offer out-of-the-box solutions for both horizontal use-cases and vertical industries. I led the User Experience (UX) efforts for the Case Management solution from its inception to its launch in less than one year.

Roles and responsibilities

  • Associate Manager of UX @ Appian
  • Lead designer and UX researcher
  • February 2023 – January 2024

The challenge

In February 2023, I was tasked with leading UX for the Case Management Solution. Three months before my involvement, a working group had been diligently assessing the feasibility of a modular Case Management Solution using Appian's low-code architecture. Based on their proof of concept, the Case Management squad was tasked with quickly bringing a brand new solution to life. In just nine months, the team grew from a small, elite group of 3 developers, one product manager, and myself into five cross-functional squads.

A case management solution was not a new concept for Appian; before I joined, there had been a group that tried to spin up a horizontal offering. Unfortunately, the technical framework they used ended up not being scalable, and they struggled to get internal buy-in and customer adoption. Our task was to break the mold and craft a flexible solution—one that could adapt to various use cases, retain developer-friendliness, and ensure easy upgrades.

The task workflow visualization uses a JS plugin, an example of increasing technical complexity to improve the user's experience. 

This presented a challenge, as all UX decisions would be evaluated not only for usability but also for the complexity of implementation and if it used Appian’s out-of-the-box components. Additionally, I needed to make design decisions that allowed customers to easily customize the experience to their brands and needs while also ensuring it was visually appealing to facilitate sales. In summary, there would be a lot of juggling of priorities.

Research and analysis

The discovery approach for this project was unique, as we were technically building from scratch, but the industry and requirements were pre-established. Rather than conducting stakeholder interviews and competitive analysis, much of my initial ramp-up was spent reading past documentation and understanding Appian’s framework. Through this work, I defined and standardized the personas and refined the site architecture.

Core personas

There are four key personas for this solution, differing based on where in the case journey they get involved and their responsibilities in the process.

  • Consumer – Someone who submits a request or case through the system’s external site.
  • Case Worker – Individuals tasked with triaging and resolving the submitted case.
  • Case Manager or Business Analyst – An individual who oversees a group of workers and is responsible for metrics and compliance.
  • Appian Developer – The developer tasked with iterating on the system to standardize and improve processes.
The persona cards for the Case Management Solution

Site Architecture

While a general site map had been developed, I was able to  further build out supporting deliverables. Through conversations, I helped refine the architecture based on an expected case workflow. I suggested changes that emphasized work to be done, brought forward tasks at risk of passing their deadline, and ensured flexible communication through an emphasis on overview pages with commenting functionality.

The Case Management site map

Defining success

Our success criteria was clear — the solution had to resonate with customers and the sales team, while also garnering enthusiasm from our internal customer success colleagues. Both of these groups needed to be convinced of why they should use this solution instead of just the base Appian platform. This translated into three key considerations when making design decisions:

  1. Modern, Top-Class Visual Design: Within Appian's flexible constraints, the challenge was to create designs using Appian's Front-End framework SAIL that mirrored custom HTML/CSS.
  2. Simple and Effective Functionality: The solution needed to accelerate implementation without sacrificing simplicity or introducing unnecessary code complexity.
  3. Smart Opinions: Finding the balance between opinionated design and logic and leaving room for general adaptability was a constant theme in our discussions.
A case task list, which has two layouts to accommodate different use cases

Success, in tangible terms, would be determined through client interest, customer contracts, and internal demos. Every interaction served as a litmus test for our product's market fit, guiding us on the path to creating a Case Management Solution that not only met expectations but exceeded them.

Designing the solution

Creating a modern, flexible UI

My first task was to transform wireframes into modern interfaces. The existing components were generic and lacked a commitment to UI best practices.Consequently, I undertook a comprehensive overhaul, refining the overall aesthetic with a deliberate selection of colors, a clear hierarchy, and a contemporary color palette. The redesign received internal acclaim, with the Industry VP of Public Sector expressing, “I think Case Management looks the best a solution has ever looked and that's all down to Natalie."

The case worker homepage, focusing on actionable insights

Defining a neutral brand

I revamped both the screen layout and emphasized actionable next steps, concurrently modernizing the color palette and brand strategy. The team had previously adhered to a single accent color (blue), alongside un-opinionated colors and default Appian settings. Spearheading this initiative, I orchestrated the development of a comprehensive color palette encompassing not only Case Management but the entire Solutions UX team. Following collaborative workshops and meticulous color analysis, we finalized eight colors in four distinct saturations. Additionally, I established a default blue-gray background color to enhance visual cohesion.

An example of the color palette applied to the placeholder data dashboard

This palette then was applied strategically so that when an internal Sale representative created a demo they could modify values to easily customize the solution to fit a client’s brand guidelines. I also established demo brands to illustrate the solution's adaptability, showcasing its versatility across various moods and aesthetics. Finally, I created an implementation guideline so that anyone could customize the solution to what they need.

A screenshot of the Case Management brand extension presentation

Integrating Artificial Intelligence

Beyond the foundational features of a case management solution, 2023 marked the mainstream integration of Artificial Intelligence. My responsibility was to identify optimal areas for AI implementation within the solution and establish a brand that seamlessly extended to all AI components across Appian solutions.

I ended up refining a UX approach for conversational AI, prompt-based AI and suggestion-based AI. This cutting-edge functionality is actively showcased in live Appian Case Management demos, demonstrating our ability to swiftly integrate groundbreaking features without compromising usability and visual aesthetic quality.

A preview of the Case Management Solution with an AI summary for the comments


In just nine months, from inception to product launch, Case Management has seen a lot of success. There is a healthy client pipeline and there are multiple internal projects using the solution due to cross-functional advocates pushing for adoption and usage. As a UX designer, I am excited to hear feedback from real users and continue to improve the solution.