This is a quick usabilty review of an add-in (not sure if
that's the right term) application for SalesForce.com. MakeTime
provides a very powerful search frontend to access your SalesForce
data. It uses Ajax, a recent web technique that minimizes the
need for tradional "round trips" to the server that previously
required the whole page to be replaced each time.
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review from UsabilityInstitute.com. "Usability" refers
to how easy and effective it is to use a Web site. Although
it involves how a site looks (graphic artwork), it is primarily
concerned with how a site works, what you click on, what happens,
and whether the site does its job. Perhaps
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||Our traditional review format
for content centric websites doesn't work for this system,
which is basically one powerful search form, and a few
supporting pages. So we'll just list out our observations.
- This page can benefit greatly from basic UI design/graphics
improvements. Start by emphasizing (put it at the
top center or left) the MakeTime logo, and deemphasizing
the corporate, Agave, logo. Put it at the bottom,
center. Make it look more like http://support.maketime.com/
- Make the "Free Demo" as prominent as
seen on the welcome page of freshbooks.com.
- Mimic the entire graphical treatment of that page
as well. Here are the elements of its style:
- Short blurbs of only the key points: what this
thing does; one testimonial; a few key benefits.
- Increase the proportion of whitespace.
- Put in a few bold headlines with powerful fonts.
- Turn all those links into features with thumbnail
graphics (Get It Now Installation, etc.).
- Make a global navigation bar: contact, support,
help, demo movie.
- Change your email link to a real link. If you
have to put instructions like "Include the word
Agave in your subject line."
- Move the rest of that text to below the fold.
Verification Page (also Called a "Captcha" Page)
- Add all of the "branding" art from the home page.
a note that "Capitalization counts, but if you can't
code, just click
- Put more space around the elements.
This is the whole deal, really. The other pages are
just warmup acts. Here's the magic of MakeTime. Only
the panel on the left counts. The panel on the right
is owned and designed solely by SalesForce. The search
panel provides two ways to search. The Search box searches
across all record types. The bottom boxes search just
within fields that might be specific to certain record
types. It works without pressing Enter or clicking a
Search button. Notice it highlights the search term in
both sides. I've only seen SalesForce a little bit prior
to this, but I'd think that this search capability is
a huge benefit. It addresses one of the biggest UI design
questions: what functionality to "dock" (meaning make
available without a dialog or page change). Clearly search
is on the "A list" for docking.
The most important usability items concern interaction,
which isn't conducive to still images, but here goes.
- Consider a one-time intro panel that explains the premise:
search all or by field... constrain to one record type...
results on the fly... choose columns, sort columns. Or
possibly put this info on a page right after the demo
login? Make it very graphical, with callouts, not a lot
- The record types enlarge when rolled over (the word
Make the active tab white (to match the rest of the
form below it). MakeTime's owner tells me this is called
"fisheye" effect and it is already on the way out.
- Use the standard vertical scroll bar (from the OS,
that is). I frequently can't tell which part is draggable
(the 'thumb') and which is the background.
- Here's the biggie: consider changing to a conventional
"Go" (or "Search") button instead of the timed "unpend."
The value of the Ajax technique is that the whole page
doesn't have to refresh. The value is only slightly related
to not needing a button. The timing is hard to understand.
If you want, keep the timed unpend as an option. And
if you keep it, make sure to improve the feedback: prominently
show a progress bar when the search is being processed.
This was confirmed by some folks on the ixda.org list,
who also gave some feedback.
- The "record type" bar must be clicked to activate.
Presumably there's no way around this. The rollover helps.
Can the rollover be made more elaborate to look like
a well-anticipated part of coaching the user? Here's
an example of a rollover with a graphic, and two text
formats. You've only got one chance, perhaps about 2
minutes to convince users that the power of your solution
is easy to get to. Providing really professional looking
assistance might be key.
- The paging controls at the bottom of the
page might need some user testing:
- Consider moving the results tally to the
top of the list, particularly if you end up doing a progress
indicator... it could be replaced by the progress indicator
when active. To me it's more general, so it could be
- The results list returns all results in the "Found"
count, and this
bar, but the "Showing"
amount seems to be the only records in RAM. Thus, there's
a lag time when scrolling that is disconcerting. Consider
changing to the conventional paging model, or provide
a 'Get All" button?
- Change the green (Clear Search) button to an eraser
- Change the second (Column Chooser and Utilities) button
to Microsoft's hammer and wrench image. I've been told,
and it's believable, that Microsoft doesn't mind if you
use their imagery... unless you use it for a different
- Change the H and V buttons to horizontal and vertical
- The Utilities page looks a little different than when
I first visited. The column chooser seems to have been
removed. I recall that it needed a prompt to explain
that it used solely drag-and-drop.
- Add consistent branding (MakeTime logo up top; smaller
corporate logo at the bottom).
MakeTime looks like a great product. Good luck
with it, and thanks for requesting a review! —Jack
Do your hands ache after a day at the keyboard??? This review
sponsored by RSIRescue.com ...
Summation & Next Steps
Overall Rating: Strives
Hope this helps and let
me know what you think,
Jack Bellis, UsabilityInstitute.com