access control • Enterprise Design

Galaxy Access Control

Project Overview

Galaxy Control Systems, a worldwide access control industry leader, recruited me in late 2020. I was hired to lead the design of a new project, collaborating with the product and engineering teams to elevate Galaxy's software offerings.


Since its inception in the '80s, Galaxy Systems has accumulated technical and design debt.

We had to accommodate existing clients' needs while making a modern product capable of attracting new business.

A relatively small team for the development


We launched an alpha release to select partners in 2023. We're now gathering feedback and data, continually enhancing performance, and introducing new features.

What is Galaxy Access Control?

Galaxy Control Systems is a globally acknowledged leader in the access control industry with a rich history of creating advanced security systems for more than thirty years. Their services extend from offering personalized control solutions to full-blown security systems integration, serving both domestic and international markets.

As Galaxy manufactures its hardware in the US, its software and hardware teams can work together efficiently, ensuring smooth product design and development. This approach also reduces the chances of compatibility problems.Learn more about Galaxy by visiting their website.

An image from Galaxy website showing their offerings

Some of Galaxy's hardware and digital offerings

A photo of card activation a door lock

First Contact

Galaxy employed me towards the end of 2020 to spearhead the design project in partnership with the Product and Engineering teams. Our goal was to elevate Galaxy's software by ensuring it was user-friendly, adaptable, and technologically advanced.

The team initially comprised the Product Manager and me as the Product Designer, while we continued to recruit developers. Concurrently, we underwent an onboarding process, familiarizing ourselves with the company's history, structure, and current software products.

Onboarding process

During the onboarding process, our primary goal was to understand Galaxy's current product portfolio and their operating strategy. We also rigorously examined their competitors and identified how Galaxy sets itself apart.

I spent months collaborating with various departments at Galaxy Systems to understand their current offerings and the entire access control industry, which was entirely new to me.

We communicated directly with key stakeholders, including  the Head of Cloud Offerings, Lead Engineer, PMs, and Customer Support Agents. We also had access to Galaxy's executive decision-makers, including Company President Rick Caruthers.

Researching current product offerings

A significant part of the onboarding involved analyzing and learning about Galaxy System's existing software offering. The breadth of Galaxy's then-present software was impressive, encompassing a wide range of security and access management features. This included software for managing physical access control systems, electronic door locks, and integrated intruder alarm systems.

In addition, it contained software for handling photo IDs, badge printing, and visitor management. The analytical phase offered a robust foundation for pinpointing gaps in the then-current software offering and arenas for innovation. This research stage proved to be a pivotal aspect, shaping the course of the project.

A screenshot of original galaxy software
A screenshot of original galaxy software

Galaxy Software – old version

Competitors research

One of the essential aspects of learning about a client was getting to know our competition. For that reason, Galaxy has flown us to Dubai for an Infosec conference where Galaxy showcased its new offerings. Some of the other access control companies were there as well, so we could explore their products firsthand and chat with companies' representatives about the future of access control. During that trip, we also attended Galaxy's training course, which helped close some gaps in our software knowledge.

Galaxy Access Control stand during Infosec conference in Dubai

Galaxy Access Control stand during Infosec conference in Dubai

Galaxy team building in the desert of UAE

Galaxy team building in the desert of UAE

Existing Customer research using Dovetail

After learning about the company, its needs, and its competitors, we moved to conduct customer research and schedule interviews with the current clients. Based on our progress back then, we had some hypotheses established during development that needed to be proven right or wrong. I created a plan for the interviews, learned about different customer businesses, and scheduled interview sessions.

One of the tools I discovered during the preparation for the research process was Dovetail. This tool helped me to analyze, synthesize, store, and share our customer research findings in a collaborative and easily searchable platform. For a solo designer on the team, it was a game changer in terms of what I could achieve during research.

A screenshot of Dovetail software

The Dovetail user interface allowed us to group and manage all of our research in a variety of ways. After the interview recording is uploaded, it automatically transcribes it, after which you can proceed to highlight and label different parts of the conversation. The result creates a map of your research data that is super easy to navigate and search. That helped the development process not only during the research stage but also during all consequent stages. For example, I could bring up direct customer feedback when we had a disagreement within the team. It's hard to argue with your own customers.

A screenshot of Dovetail software showing charts

Visualization of finding using Dovetail

A screenshot of Dovetail software showing charts

Another example of vizualization

With the help of visual aids, it was much easier to communicate results to stakeholders. Many of the conversations were quite open and friendly, so customers shared many novel insights with the company. When developing subsequent UX and UI artifacts, we returned from time to time to our research participants, asking for additional feedback and providing updates. Our partners and research participants expressed having a feeling of participation and direct impact when they saw that their feedback was integrated into designs. That helped us grow trust and gain some allies along the way.

User Experience Planning

After several months of onboarding, research, and much discussion within the company, we moved into UX Planning. During that stage, we gathered everything we had learned in previous steps and translated it into UX artifacts. We created the information architecture of the whole Galaxy API and conducted several workshops in Miro for planning and prioritization, working closely with stakeholders and the executive branch of the company.

A screenshot of Dovetail software

Part of Galaxy Miro Board - Information Architecture

A screenshot of Dovetail software

Information Architecture continued

We also created a set of user stories and user journeys based on our interviews with customers. We identified several user types that would use our system and discovered their focuses and prioritizations.

A screenshot of Dovetail software showing charts

Galaxy User Flow - Dealer

A screenshot of Dovetail software showing charts

Galaxy User Hierarchy

Visual design

With the research and interviews done, we moved to discuss all of the finding with stakeholders before moving to refining design based on the research findings. With current offering being vastly outdated, it was important to bring a modern look and feel to the software. We decided to focus on the desktop version initially and then decide which functions would make sense to enable on mobile. With too many features, we wanted to differentiate the use case of desktop and mobile

Dealer's Customer Dashboard

Designing a system for a complex enterprise company can be challenging. We've developed a simple, user-friendly view for our dealers who handle Galaxy's systems and customer management. This view includes easily sortable company data, search and filter functions, favoriting feature, and live alert system.

Furthermore, it allows for each customer's data to be expandable to provide dealers with quick access to essential information and controls. If more details or control elements are needed, dealers can access a comprehensive company view.

Customizable Customer Sign In
Expanding Customer item
Customer view
Easy to reach quick actions with some additional options

In-depth Customer view

This is the primary interface where you have maximum control and access to the system. It allows you to effortlessly navigate between various system components like Operators, Cardholders, Hardware, Access Groups, I/O Groups, Event, Reports, Cameras and more.

Opening detailed Company View
Company view
Manage users

Navigating customer View

Navigating through the customer view is streamlined to ensure a smooth user experience. Dealers can swiftly move between various sections by using the intuitive interface, ensuring they can locate pertinent information or perform necessary actions without any hindrance.

This level of navigation efficiency is a critical aspect of the overall design, helping to minimize confusion and allow users to utilize the system to its maximum potential.

Tabular menu design for different customer items
Operators view
Manage cardholders

Manage Doors

In the Manage Doors segment of the interface, each door in the system can be independently monitored and controlled. Access rules and schedules can be set for each individual door, providing a robust level of security control.

Furthermore, any activity related to a door is recorded for review, ensuring you can track and monitor access. This high-level control, coupled with meticulous monitoring, enhances the overall security of any facility managed through the Galaxy API, promising a seamless and secure user experience.

Tabular menu design for different customer items
Doors view
Some quick actions are available without the need to invoke the form
Doors view
Edit Door form

Respond & Manage System Events

Using customer events, you can swiftly attend to any system anomalies, thanks to real-time notifications and alerts. The system events are comprehensively logged for historical review and future insights. The flexible nature of this feature allows you to customize alerts based on the importance of the event, providing an extra layer of security control and peace of mind.

These features ensure minor issues are promptly addressed before they escalate, ensuring smooth operations and maintaining system integrity.

Respond to system events

Manage Galaxy Hardware

The management of Galaxy hardware, including Galaxy Clusters, Panels, and Boards, has also been made easy and intuitive. This allows partners to effortlessly set up, manage, and troubleshoot hardware components.

Additional features include configuring and monitoring access points, efficiently managing resources, and having better control over the overall system. This further enhances the user experience ensuring that partners can handle every aspect of the infrastructure with minimal training or technical expertise.

Hardware view
Manage hardware

Responsive forms

This project required mastering forms and various user input formats. All components of the system could be viewed or edited, often displaying large quantities of information that users had to navigate before submitting their input. After exploring many display options, I decided to create more dynamic, responsive forms that appear promptly when needed, without disrupting other interface elements and maintaining user context. I also implemented restrictions on form width and the maximum number of fields per row.

Form pop up
Form example
Form example
Add Access Group form

Crafting the design system

Creating a design system for an enterprise company can be a daunting task due to the complexity of the organization. This design system is a foundation for consistent design and shared components used throughout the company’s marketing, design and development processes.

It includes various components of different complexion, colors, and typography, as well as essential documentation of the system.

As a solo designer, making a design system can be a challenge. I took the approach of building a design system as I went, slowly populating my designs with components. I added auto-layout, properties, and constrains to describe the behaviors of those components. I also followed an Atomic approach to design system, where bigger components would be composed of smaller ones, for even more customization and control.

Galaxy components - form fields
Form Field Design System
Galaxy components - list items
List items components
Galaxy components - color system
Color system with --var color names synced for development

Components properties & auto layout

Here is an example of building a component using properties and auto-layout.

Galaxy components - form header with component properties
Component properties used in a dynamic form header
Galaxy components - pop ups
Edit Forms
Add forms
Add forms

Using prototypes to communicate design

After shooting all of the footage and 3D scanning the environment, we put everything in Unity game engine and started developing our VR application. It was such an important

Testing software with selected partners

Throughout the development process we maintained strong connections with our stakeholders. We had weekly meetings with Galaxy HQ to report on the progress, as well as occasional check ins with company's customers testing software. We were able to deploy an alpha version of the software to selected partners, where we continued to stress test and improve the product.

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