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Sneak Peek 2: Redesigned SmartViews, Contextual Activity Picker, and more

We’re in the final week of finalizing the features and changes that will be included in the next WORK[etc] release, so if you have any suggestions now's the time to tell us. While you're at it, check out this sneak peek at how the update is shaping up.

If you’ve been following WORK[etc] for a few years now, you would have noticed that we tend to undertake a massive release every 18 months or so. Aside from updating the interface and adding major features each time, we also fix around 200 or so “every-now-and-again” issues.

These are the little issues that would happen in, say, 1 out of 200 actions. By itself, each issue is inconsequential; as a user you quickly move on. But over time these tend to accumulate like barnacles on the hull of a ship, creating unnecessary drag on user productivity.

One of the ways we collect these issues (aside from being one of the biggest users of WORK[etc] ourselves) is from the Suggest A Feature forum available only to customers (you’ll need to be logged into your account to view). I regularly work through every single item in this list, evaluate them, and, if suitable, schedule them into the major releases.

This is important to mention right now as we’re in the final week of locking down what will be included in this release. If you have a WORK[etc] feature suggestion or idea on how to improve the user experience, then please jump into the forum and post your thoughts.

In the meantime, here are some more previews of how the new release is shaping up.

SmartViews

SmartViews

The new SmartView tool replaces both the old SmartList tool as well as Saved Filters.

Conceptually, SmartLists (filter your data) and Saved Filters (filter a screen of data) achieve the same outcome. They both create a customized view of your CRM database depending on how you applied variables such as project management, billing, custom fields, etc.

The new SmartView tool also allows you to save your custom SmartView as an item in the Top Menu bar. You can also create a Smartview and, with the right access permissions, push that SmartView to show in the Top Menu in your colleagues’ accounts.

For example, lets say I decide that a core activity my top-performing sales team needs to do each week is review a list of Priority One customers who have spent more than $100,000 in the last 12 months and who we have not made contact with in 30 days. Using the SmartView tool I would select the output as Contacts, with the Tag called Priority One, where Invoiced is Greater than $100,000, and where activity is zero for the last 30 days. I then select the Workgroup called Sales-team Alpha and publish this SmartView through to their menu. Everyone in Sales-team Alpha now has that SmartView available to them with a single mouse click.

As you can see from the screenshot, we’ve also made creating SmartViews simpler with a new streamlined selection and filtering tool.

Finally, you’ll now be able to do a lot more with a SmartView. For example, a SmartView can be used to create a “live and updating” mail list, meaning that every time you send out to this mail list, the SmartView will be updated and contacts can be added or removed depending on your SmartView criteria. And don’t worry, we’re making sure all your existing SmartLists will still be available from within the SmartView core module.

New Data Grid / Tables

Data Grid

Above is the new design for the data grid, or what you might call the table, that is used throughout WORK[etc]. The new table includes a number of enhancements, including simple in-line editing and perpetual scrolling.

With in-line editing, if you notice missing or incorrect information on a screen, you can simply click that cell and immediately type in the correct information (without having to load a new edit screen or even hit the save button).

With perpetual scrolling, new results are loaded into the data table as you scroll down the page. We’re using a hybrid version of pagination and scrolling here that allows you to either jump ahead to a specific page or keep scrolling down and auto-load each page of data. The extra benefit here is a clever CSS script that allows you to just print the table data without also printing all the user interface and browser elements.

Activity Picker – Auto-Suggest, Context, and Search

Activity Picker

One of the most powerful features of WORK[etc] is the ability to “attach anything to anything.”

For example, if you get support case concerning a customer issue with your product, you can simply create a task for your maintenance team to review. The support agent is able to monitor task progress and give feedback directly to the customer via the original support ticket. If you’re a sales agent, you can attach a project to your sales lead and with that project involve the product team to get their help with the pitch.

With the new “Attach To” tool we’re making the search logic more intuitive and introducing a faster means of viewing context. For example, you’ll now be able to type into the Attach To field and WORK[etc] will auto-suggest matches from your recently accessed items. The logic here is you’re more likely going to want to attach the current work item to something you’ve viewed recently, rather than an item that hasn’t been viewed for 6 months.

The other issue we’re resolving here is for companies that might have a lot of tasks or projects with the same name. For example, one WORK[etc] customer will perform an audit for every new client they win but they simply call that project “Audit” every time out of habit. This means that if they want to attach something to a particular client “Audit “ project, they have to scroll through a heap of projects with the same name trying to identify the right project. In the new Activity Picker, we display a hierarchy of context next to each activity to help you identify the exact item you’re looking for.

Got Questions, Concerns, Ideas?

This is our second update so far as we plough through development. Please understand that this is a huge undertaking (as always!) and we’re all 100% committed to delivering on everything we want to do with this next release. If you have any concerns or questions, ask them in the comments below.

  • Thomas Lawler

    Exciting stuff! Can’t wait for the next release. How are your releases managed? Do you just flip the switch? Is there a soft release for admins? Thanks in advanced.

    • Hi Thomas,

      This is such a huge release that we’ll be running a closed beta for a while, with the beta only available to members’ of our WORK[etc] Insiders’ program.

      Then from beta to release we’ll do a staged approach with plenty of announcements and multiple opportunities to experience the release, but at some point all accounts would be progressively upgraded over the period of a 7 to 10 days.

      • Thomas Lawler

        Thanks for the information! As always awesome support and response!

        Thomas

  • David Jones

    Very nice. I really like the smart view concept and look forward out checking it out. The example use-case you provided is one that we can use within our own organization and definitely inspired some new thinking. I also appreciate the improvements which reduce the amount of clicks/time to do simple tasks like printing, editing, and searching.

    • Thanks David – we’re doing our best to eliminate any and all superfluous clicks!

  • Michael

    This is a release that I am definitely looking forward to. I thought the smart views would be what I’m waiting for but now that I read about your data grid enhancements I think I’m looking forward to that more than anything. Thank you for continuing to listen to us in your Suggest a feature program. Having benefited from that program I know just how real it is. Bring on the new release!!

    • Thanks Michael – its not mentioned above, but another little enhancement is that as you scroll down the page on a big data list, the top row (header row) will now stay pinned to the top of the table so that you always know what column you are viewing. It sounds like such a tiny tweak, but after playing with it for a few days now it makes such a huge difference to how, as a user, you read and understand the data you’re actually looking at.

  • I have not had the need to put anything into the suggestion program but it’s always a good thing to know about! I am looking forward to the data grid enhancements just like Michael. It’s always reassuring that you guys use your own program because that’s what sets you apart from the crowd, you use and love work Etc. as much as your customers do!

    • ” love work Etc. as much as your customers do!”
      … haha yes, but to be honest there are some days I hate it – which are usually the days something tiny frustrates me and I want to get it fixed right then and there!

      • That is the mark of a good business owner. You take the time to learn your product and let it bug the crap out of you so when it come time to fix something you know what needs to be added to the list!

  • Excellent news Daniel. One of our challenges with managing a high volume of projects (with subprojects) is having a simplified view for staff to see what’s on the radar right now. Simplicity is the key to avoid overwhelm with UX.

    I’m very much looking forward to the new Activity Picker too, for the exact reasons you mention. We have same named sub-projects/tasks and currently our ‘hack’ is to add a reference number at the front of each to make it easier to find and attach new emails from the Gmail add-in.

    Will the activity picker be immediately available through the Gmail add-in?

    • Hi Peter,

      We’re also working on a modified layout of the main project screen to make visibility of “what is important, right now” clearer. I plan on sharing more on this soon.

      And yes, the Gmail add-in actually pulls in the same code base so the change would be immediately visible on the Google CRM widget.

  • “Activity picker” – music to my ears. I second what peter just said.
    We have lots of projects with similar names (usually the client surname or a title that is a bit generic). Anything that makes selecting from clumps of similar looking items would be a lifesaver given the underlying key feature is being able to make bridges from one piece of information to another.
    Anything that makes the selection of this content easier therefore is a guaranteed winner!

    • “We have lots of projects with similar names ”

      Yes, so the new Activity Picker has three levels to help users find the exact item. Level 1, with auto-suggestion, is a list of related and/or recent items with additional information to help identify context.

      If the item you’re chasing isn’t visible in this first step, you can then browse through the items. Finally there is a detailed search. The goal is to correctly identify at level 1 80% of the time, level 2 15% and then only resort to a search 5%.

  • John Belchamber

    Wow, yet another efficiency boosting list of improvements that will make my life so much easier and,. profitable.
    Great work team, I’m really looking forward to diving into these features and seeing how I can utilise them.
    Will there be your usual range of videos to help us get stuck in?

    • Steve Westrop | WORK[etc]

      Certainly will be John, just as soon as we can get them all done! It’s a HUGE task, and one that’s never really completed, but something we’ll want to dedicate time to doing, and doing well.

      I’ll also look at running some group webinars where we can run through the functionality, but having caught up on all the comments and discussion on here I’m wondering if we try to make them a bit more of a social function too, and give some of the power users a chance to share some of their experiences.

  • Always great to see what’s coming. I can’t wait to get my hands on this huge update, it’s like waiting for Christmas morning! While I am super excited for the aesthetics of this update, which I feel helps productivity by wanting to stay within the app these additions will be a big time saver for a lot of businesses. Thanks for keeping us all posted on what’s to come. Having a development team that really cares about customers feedback in the update process is a rare thing these days. Keep up the good work!

  • Steven Kennedy

    I love the look of the new update coming out! I think it will make work etc much easier to use and operate on a daily basis. The way they are creating it will make the interface more simple to look at an organize your daily company needs. Thanks you work etc!

  • David McGarry

    It’s great to know us Work[Etc] Insiders will be getting the beta version first 🙂
    Really like the look of the contextual activity picker, I think that will definitely streamline some of my day-to-day usage. Inline editing is great too. As mentioned in the piece I agree that one of WE’s strengths is being able to attach anything to anything. We’re definitely getting to a point where the lines are blurred between desktop and browser/mobile applications. Looking forward to seeing all these revamps!

  • GFZArchitects

    it seems that this new look will make more easy the use of the so many features of Worketc, the screens should be more compacts than before and be able to show more data (or links, to open a popup) on the same pages without the stress to go up and down by menus searching for a detail,… when I get the page I was searching for , I have already forgot what I was searching for… .

    Other thing , make a better integration with the on line files storage service, ok for box (can be better), but try to give “Dopbox service”

    • “the screens should be more compacts than before and be able to show more data (or links, to open a popup)”

      Agree – so we’re moving to a model whereby you can open items in a modal (floating panel) within the page you are already viewing, rather than always opening in a new window. This tiny change is just one in a huge list of “devil is in the details” – the kind of issues that are seemingly insignificant yet which end up having a huge impact day-to-day. I’ve been on a war over these for a while.

      “when I get the page I was searching for , I have already forgot what I was searching for”

      The new Activity Picker, which will now include a third level of keyword search will help with this. Especially for companies that have multiple activities all with the same name. For example, they might do a project called “Industry Research” for every single client. In this case context becomes key.

      “Dopbox service” -> Dropbox will be on a v5.X. I actually prefer DropBox to Box and use Dropbox extensively so will definitely happen.

  • Tony Tsicouris

    I’m looking forward to the update. There have been a lot of features I can’t wait to get my hands on. We use the smart filters a lot so this will be exciting.

  • Barry Gibson

    I’m looking forward to these new lists. One question with the new release, will the updated dashboard you mentioned in an earlier post be included? Will we be able to include the new Smart views within the dashboard?

    • Hi Barry – yes, this is a key, key part of the release. I’ve found that across any app dashboards eventually become blind to the user – so we’re putting a lot of time into experimenting how to make Dashboards become part of the daily habit of a user.

      • Barry Gibson

        That’s Great Dan, also do the new smart views allow group-by i.e. the ability to group tasks by project?

  • I love the idea of in-line editing – that will make use of the system so much quicker. SmartViews sounds great – one of my frustrations with the current SmartLists is that they often dont give the results I was expecting. Is there a way of the system giving some form of context sensitiive help to assist in solving what might be wrong?

    • “Is there a way of the system giving some form of context sensitiive help to assist in solving what might be wrong?”

      Hey Ian – so with this iteration, we’re breaking down the entire “massive” SmartView tool into smaller pieces available under each option as well as including a number of pre-built SmartViews. The full tool will still be available under Reports, but by also making simpler options under each module we think we can make building a specific view much easier.

      • Hi Dan, do you have any updates on when we might see these upgrades arrive both for the main site and the new ios app? It seems like we are waiting for ages – but that may be me just being like an impatient kid before Christmas!!

  • Jason Royals

    I like the streamlined filtering and selection tool. I move rather quick through documentation and do a lot of interface jumping. Something like this streamlines my movement processes. Of course I read a faster means of viewing context. The new attach too feature would be greatly welcomed. And customer smartviews? What? You guys are doin good work over there. Your feel for customer’s needs are greatly appreciated.

  • Love the commitment to continuous improvement. Am looking forward to using the new and improved features.

  • Brad Crowley

    More intuitive smart views will help with pull out the data the we need most.

  • Cant wait for this update, mainly since i work in the web development depart at my company. just keep on making work etc better!!!

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