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ServiceNow's Next Experience UI, and how to embrace the change

We love the way that the ServiceNow community joins together in excitement during version releases. Even though we know there’s going to be work involved to ensure that the upgrade happens smoothly and painlessly (make sure to go read our guide on How to Prepare for a ServiceNow Upgrade), ServiceNow customers are consistent in their enthusiasm to explore the latest features and enhancements that the next release has in store.

For the 2022 Q1 (late March) release, San Diego, one feature that is generating the most buzz is the update to their platform UI, which they’re calling Next Experience UI (Polaris).

The ability for organisations to provide a smooth and modern experience has gone from a “nice-to-have feature” to a competitive business essential. This is not just because workers have raised their expectations for their employer to provide a consumer-level experience, but also because removing friction from business services results in higher user adoption and an increased return on investment for the company. ServiceNow has responded to that need with a sleek new interface, delivering a contemporary, intuitive experience to ensure that your users can navigate the tool and access critical features easily and confidently.


What to expect?

There is an expected response that can easily get glossed over in all the anticipation, which is that users almost always react hesitantly to the changes. It doesn’t matter if the changes are small. It doesn’t even matter if the changes are positive. Adjustments to the day-to-day flow will almost always result in some sort of friction which can lead to minor backlash from your users and administrators. It’s the reason applications like Facebook and Instagram make headlines when they adjust how users interact with their platform, even though the same users who initially complain tend to get used to the new updates a few weeks later.

While disruption in social media is a minor problem, a disruption to your business is very different. Ensuring that your team is comfortable and confident using a tool like ServiceNow is critical for success, and much of that success hinges on your team’s willingness to buy into tool adoption. To understand how the new UI will affect productivity at your organisation, let’s take a closer look at the changes to expect.


Notable changes

On the surface, the look and feel of the interface are very different. You will probably be greeted with stronger themes of purple and dark green, replacing ServiceNow’s previous tonal green palette, with large icons and entire quadrants of the screen devoted to helping you easily find your way around the platform. This is designed to feel more like a modern website, and less like a business tool, making good on the consumer-grade experience companies are seeking to provide. You’ll also note the addition of more illustrative art to the default state. Custom graphic design sets the ground for aesthetic satisfaction which increases the desirability of the portal, as well as has significant power in setting the emotional appeal. Functionality of course comes first, but this subtle change adheres to the natural human desire for beauty and style. 


You may notice that the left-hand navigation menu is missing. While this is perhaps the most noticeable change, it’s one that is easily remedied. From the top navigation bar, you can simply select from a variety of menus, All (which contains every application which the user can access), Favourites, History, and Workspaces, which allows you to then pin that menu to the left of your screen if you so choose. At first, this can feel like a big shift in how you navigate ServiceNow, but once you start using it more and more, you realise that it has the data, and the functionality is largely the same.


Some less obvious, yet notable changes we want to point out also is the shift to a softer, more friendly tone that comes with the theme shift. You’ll notice the default on all widgets is now to have rounded edges. The human brain is conditioned to associate sharp edges with harm, and for rounded ones to be safe, friendly, and hence, approachable, therefore allowing the user to focus on the content the widget contains.  


Notable functionality

Next Experience attempts to improve ServiceNow’s ability to put your applications at your user’s fingertips with improved navigation to content across your instance in a single pane, helping your team to be more productive with minimal training or support. This includes enhanced onboarding that greets your newest members with a welcome message and provides a quick tutorial to get them up to speed on their first day. It also offers personalised visibility to see relevant data instantly, helping your users focus on the areas that matter most, and intuitively directing them to essential tasks. It also provides suggested resources to offer recommendations for additional tools and services related to that user’s role and recent activities. In this way, the experience is more tailored to the users’ needs, wants, and desired content. 


How to prepare

ServiceNow’s Next Experience UI comes activated by default for all new instances with the San Diego release. If you upgrade to San Diego you will need to activate the new interface via a system property. This same system property can be used to deactivate the interface if you wish to keep using the old interface.

Prior to deciding whether you will be using the Next Experience UI there might be some configurations that you will have to make based on your current ServiceNow implementation, some of those elements include:

  • Applying your corporate branding and logo
  • Checking any custom UI Page and or Macro for styling issues
  • Reviewing any custom global UI scripts that you might have implemented


What to do

In Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Peter F. Drucker states, "People are not stressed because there’s too much change in organisations, but because of the way change is made." ServiceNow clearly understands the need for an improved experience and has embraced the challenge by creating a modern and easy-to-use interface to meet the evolving needs of the market. While we want to focus on the positives, we must point out that change also needs to be accompanied by a plan. It is important that ServiceNow customers have the ability to communicate how these changes will affect their team whilst highlighting the positive features that come with this release. While the new UI aims to tap into your intuitive ability to navigate, your users might not be able to automatically find features that they have grown used to from previous versions. Creating brief training guides that walk them through the new landscape of the tool, as well as pointing them in the direction of commonly used features such as pinning menus and navigating to tasks and important information will help with user adoption and set them up for success.

There’s a lot to get excited about with ServiceNow’s San Diego release. Make sure to check back on our blog and follow us on LinkedIn for more in-depth reviews of specific products and applications as we will continue to break down the latest and greatest updates as well as how that affects your organisation. 


Ready to upgrade?

Get expert tips on how to guide your team down the path to a successful upgrade in our ServiceNow Upgrade Guide!


Get the Help You Need

Upgrading your ServiceNow instance can seem daunting, but the new features in the upcoming San Diego release make the upgrade more than worth it. And you don’t have to do it alone! If you’ve been putting off upgrading because of time or resource constraints, Thirdera can help. As the largest and most experienced pure-play ServiceNow partner, we are here to show you how to get more out of your ServiceNow investment.

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Martin Palacios

Martin is a ServiceNow professional with over 13 years experience and an excellent track record of managing applications and development teams. As the Practice Director for Thirdera Digital, Martin is responsible for leading projects around architecting and delivering applications across various ServiceNow applications, and helping customers achieve greater value from ServiceNow.
[employee-experience, thirdera-digital, blog, it-workflow] [Employee Experience, Thirdera Digital, Blog, IT workflow]