Illuminate: Lighting the Path to Modern HR Solutions

Illuminate: Lighting the Path to Modern HR Solutions

Illuminate Login
Google Play Badge
Apple App Store Badge

It started with us. The time-tracking methods at Bryte were outdated and inefficient, often requiring manual entry, which heightened the risk of human error. Similarly, shift scheduling was fraught with conflicts and logistical challenges, complicating shift swaps and absence management. As the company grew, so did its workforce diversity, with varying shifts and employment types, further straining the existing systems. This inefficiency burdened the HR staff with excessive administrative tasks, diverting their focus from strategic HR initiatives. These challenges underscored the need for a modern, efficient solution for time tracking and shift management, paving the way for the development of Illuminate.

In developing Illuminate for our staff in-house, we recognized a significant gap in the market for small and medium-sized businesses seeking efficient and cost-effective HR solutions. Major players like ADP and Workday, while offering comprehensive tools, were often not financially feasible for smaller companies. On the other hand, more affordable HR tools in the market typically lacked the essential features and functionalities that these businesses required.

This discrepancy created a challenging environment for small business owners who needed to manage employee time tracking and shift scheduling efficiently. They often had to choose between expensive systems with more features than necessary or affordable systems that didn’t meet all their needs. This compromise either strained their budgets or left them with inefficient processes.

Recognizing this dilemma, we aimed to create a solution that bridged this gap – a tool that was both cost-effective and feature-rich, tailored to the unique needs of smaller businesses. Illuminate was envisioned to provide a comprehensive yet affordable alternative to the existing options in the market, offering the crucial functionalities of high-end systems without the prohibitive costs.

Our goal was to develop an intuitive, easy-to-use platform that could handle the complexities of modern HR management, such as time tracking, shift scheduling, and payroll integration, in a way that was accessible and manageable for small business owners.

Unearthing the HR Challenge

In the initial stages of developing Illuminate, our research was deeply rooted in understanding the firsthand experiences and frustrations of our employees at Bryte. Through comprehensive and empathetic interviews with our HR team and employees, we delved into the daily challenges they faced with our existing time-tracking system. These discussions revealed critical pain points, such as the system’s lack of intuitiveness, inefficiency in handling time entries, and the tedious nature of managing shift schedules.

Previous Time Management Software
The time management software Bryte was using

Additionally, our HR team expressed concerns about compliance with federal labor laws, an area where our existing system fell short. This highlighted the need for a solution that not only improved operational efficiency but also ensured adherence to legal requirements, a critical aspect for any HR software.

Our research also involved a thorough analysis of the broader HR software market. We examined various solutions to understand their functionalities, strengths, and shortcomings. This benchmarking process provided us with valuable insights into what features were essential for an effective time-tracking system and where other products in the market were lacking.

This comprehensive research phase, grounded in direct feedback from our own workforce and a clear understanding of legal and market requirements, was pivotal in identifying the key areas that needed improvement.

Blueprints for HR Brilliance

In designing Illuminate, we honed in on creating specific features that would significantly enhance the user experience and meet the practical needs of our users. Among these were the integration with QuickBooks and the innovative ‘Projected Hours’ feature. The integration with QuickBooks and the Projected Hours feature are prime examples of how we tailored the tool to meet specific user needs, combining efficiency, ease of use, and practicality in a modern, user-friendly interface.

Early Employee Dashboard Planning
Early planning for the Illuminate modules and user dashboard
  • QuickBooks Integration: One of the standout features of Illuminate is its seamless integration with QuickBooks. This functionality allows users to effortlessly push their timesheets directly to QuickBooks for payroll processing. Understanding the importance of accurate and efficient payroll management, we designed this feature to simplify the transition from time tracking to payroll. This integration not only saves time but also reduces the potential for errors that can occur when transferring data between systems manually.
  • Projected Hours: Another key feature we focused on was the ‘Projected Hours’ capability. This innovative tool provides employees with a real-time view of the expected hours they will accumulate by the end of the week, based on their current schedule and hours worked so far. This feature empowers employees to manage their time more effectively, helping them to avoid unintentional overtime or undershooting their expected hours. It also assists managers in monitoring team hours, aiding in better workforce planning and budget management.
  • Visuals and Interactions: The visual design and interaction of these features were crafted with the user in mind. We ensured that the interface for both QuickBooks integration and the Projected Hours feature was intuitive and straightforward. The visual cues were designed to be clear and easily understandable, ensuring that users could navigate these features without confusion or the need for extensive training.

But we weren’t just focused on delivering a time tracking solution. By first addressing the time tracking problem, we were able to lay the foundation (employee onboarding, admin dashboard, employee management) for each of the future modules planned for Illuminate.

Validating the HR Vision

The testing phase of Illuminate was a rigorous and thorough process, crucial for ensuring that the final product met and exceeded the expectations of our users. This phase involved a comprehensive approach, engaging both internal teams at Bryte and a select group of external business owners who would be the end-users of the product.

Access Level Chart
Early planning for access levels within the app
  • Internal Team Testing: Our internal teams, including developers, designers, and HR professionals, were the first to test the various iterations of Illuminate. This initial testing phase allowed us to identify and address technical bugs, assess the intuitiveness of the user interface, and ensure the software’s compatibility with various operating systems and devices. The feedback from our internal teams was instrumental in making early improvements to the tool, setting the foundation for further refinement.
  • External Merchant Testing: Involving external merchants in the testing phase was a strategic decision to gain real-world insights. These participants were carefully selected to represent a diverse range of business sizes and types, ensuring that we gathered a broad spectrum of feedback. Over the course of the testing phase, these external users interacted with Illuminate in their day-to-day operations, providing us with valuable feedback on how the tool fit into different business contexts.
  • Feedback and Iteration: The feedback received during this phase was extensive, with over 500 tickets generated. These tickets ranged from minor suggestions to critical insights, each contributing to the iterative improvement of Illuminate. The feedback covered various aspects such as the tool’s ease of use, feature functionality, integration with existing systems, and overall performance. Our team meticulously reviewed and addressed each piece of feedback, ensuring that every user’s voice was heard and considered in the development process.
Trello Tickets
Some of the hundreds of tickets with bugs, features, and design callouts documented for the dev team

The extensive testing phase of Illuminate played a pivotal role in its development. It allowed us to fine-tune the tool to meet the specific needs and preferences of our target audience, ensuring that we delivered a product that was both functional and user-centric. This process of continuous feedback and improvement was fundamental in creating a time-tracking solution that truly resonated with users in the HR and business community.

Illuminating HR Success

The launch of Illuminate was not only a major success externally but also marked a significant transformation within Bryte itself. The company made the strategic decision to completely transition from its previous HR software to Illuminate, a move that has since enhanced its operational efficiency and simplified payroll processes.

This internal adoption of Illuminate proved its effectiveness firsthand. The seamless integration with QuickBooks dramatically streamlined the payroll process for Bryte, reducing the time and effort required for payroll management. By automating the transfer of accurate time data to QuickBooks, Illuminate minimized the risk of payroll errors, leading to more accurate and timely employee payments.

QuickBooks Export Modal
QuickBooks export modal

Furthermore, the comprehensive features of Illuminate, including its advanced time tracking and shift management capabilities, significantly improved the overall HR operations within Bryte. Managers and HR staff found the tool intuitive and easy to use, enabling more efficient scheduling and time management. The real-time visibility of employee hours and schedules facilitated better planning and resource allocation.

Competitor Employee Shift Information vs Time Tracker Time Cards
Our Time Cards made processing information at a glance seamless.

In addition to the full Progressive Web App (PWA) version of Illuminate, Bryte also benefited from the launch of the ‘Lite’ version on iOS and Android platforms. Illuminate – Time Tracker. This version, offered free to merchants, was to provide businesses a no barrier entry to time tracking.

Final Design in App Screenshots
Illuminate – Time Tracker in app screenshots

Bryte’s decision to switch to Illuminate and its successful internal use of Illuminate not only serves as a powerful endorsement of the product but also demonstrates the company’s commitment to utilizing and refining its own solutions.


The development of Illuminate provided several key insights that have implications for future software development, particularly in the realm of HR technology.

  • Balancing Simplicity with Functionality: A key learning from Illuminate was the delicate balance between simplicity and comprehensive functionality. In a landscape where time-tracking solutions were either too basic or overly complex, Illuminate struck the perfect balance. This was achieved by focusing on essential features that were easy to use yet robust enough to handle various HR tasks effectively.
  • Adapting to Diverse Business Needs: Illuminate’s development highlighted the need to cater to a wide range of business sizes and types. We learned the importance of creating a flexible and scalable solution that could adapt to different operational scales and requirements, making it a suitable choice for both small businesses and larger enterprises.
  • Integration Significance: The seamless integration of Illuminate with QuickBooks highlighted the importance of interoperability in software development. Integrations with existing systems are crucial in providing a holistic solution that maximizes utility and efficiency. Such integrations not only enhance the user experience but also increase the value of the software by making it a more versatile and comprehensive tool.

As we look to the future of Illuminate Time Tracker, we are excited about the potential to expand its capabilities and add even more value for our users. Some of the features we are planning to include are:

  • Career Section for Job Listings: A new module that allows companies to post job listings and manage applications directly within Illuminate. This feature will streamline the recruitment process, making it easier for HR teams to attract and evaluate candidates.
  • Benefits Section: An enhanced section where employees can view and manage their benefits packages. This feature will provide a centralized location for all benefits information, simplifying the process for employees and HR staff alike.
  • Employee Shop: A place where employees can redeem points earned from various company activities for rewards. This gamification element aims to boost employee engagement and morale, creating a more dynamic and rewarding workplace experience.
Dashboard with Featured Announcements
Illuminate employee dashboard with all modules

The Afterglow

The development of Illuminate has been a defining project in my career as a product designer. It challenged me to delve deeply into the user experience, pushing me to design a solution that was not only functional but also intuitive and enjoyable to use. This project honed my skills in balancing user needs with technological capabilities, and in adapting designs to meet diverse business requirements. The success of Illuminate has reinforced my belief in the power of user-centric design and continuous innovation. It has made me a more empathetic and versatile designer, better equipped to tackle future challenges and to create solutions that make a real difference in people’s work lives.

Project Details

My Role: Product Designer
Team: 2 Product Designer, 1 UX Designer, Multiple Developers
Duration: The project spanned from October 2021 to February 2023.
Status: Launched as a PWA, with a lite version later on Android and iOS.

“If we want users to like our software we should design it to behave like a likable person: respectful, generous, and helpful.”

“If we want users to like our software we should design it to behave like a likable person: respectful, generous, and helpful.”