Over the summer, we’ve been concentrating on making the user interface the best it can possibly be. We’ve run UX workshops, organised testing by people who’ve never used the system before and brainstormed a number of design ideas.
In August we introduced many small tweaks to improve the friendliness of the system. Now we’re ready to push the envelope and release two more significant updates.
The first thing you may notice on logging on and opening up a tile is that we’ve improved the navigation menus near the top of the screen, making it much easier to find things.
Clicking on one of the menu headers will open up a dropdown list of menu items underneath it. Each item consists of a view name, a count of records (if under 50) and a description of what that item contains, if necessary. That provides more context for the person in front of the screen and makes more efficient use of the space above the main contents of the page.
Data in your system is stored in what’s called a ‘relational database’, which means that records of different types can link together.
For example, a company record may have a list of contacts related to it. When editing a company, you can typically see the links to contacts in a tab, so the relationship is obvious.
However in the contact record, it has not (up until now) been visually clear that there is a company ‘above’ the contact. In other words, that the contact is a ‘child’ record of the company.
That connection to a hierarchy has now been made obvious with the addition of a heading line at the top of a child record linking to the parent(s). Here’s an example, where you can see that the contact Kevin Williams works for Stapleton Spices.
We’ve used companies and contacts as an example, but the same thing goes for any two types of data which may be related, for example customers and orders, projects and tasks, invoices and invoice lines or staff records and training records.
Clicking the relation link (Stapleton Spices circled above) will take you directly to that record.
If the link is wrong, e.g. if Stapleton Spices has been connected to Kevin by mistake and he should actually be linked to Stapleton Herbs, you can hover the mouse over the link for a few seconds and the option to change it will appear.
If a parent hasn’t been chosen at all, an input box will be displayed rather than a link, letting you type in or choose one.
This is a significant update to the software and we think it will make a big difference to people, helping them understand where they are in the system at a glance.