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Website Review of MakeTime, a SalesForce.com Add-In

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.

 


 

Congratulations! This is a free usability 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 this review is all you need to improve your site. If that's the case, great. Please mention UsabilityInstitute.com if you talk with others who need help with their site.


 

  Review Comments
 



    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.
 


Welcome Page

  1. 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/
  2. Make the "Free Demo" as prominent as seen on the welcome page of freshbooks.com.
  3. Mimic the entire graphical treatment of that page as well. Here are the elements of its style:
    1. Short blurbs of only the key points: what this thing does; one testimonial; a few key benefits.
    2. Increase the proportion of whitespace.
    3. Put in a few bold headlines with powerful fonts.
    4. Turn all those links into features with thumbnail graphics (Get It Now Installation, etc.).
    5. Make a global navigation bar: contact, support, help, demo movie.
    6. Change your email link to a real link. If you have to put instructions like "Include the word Agave in your subject line."
    7. Move the rest of that text to below the fold.
 

Image Verification Page (also Called a "Captcha" Page)

  1. Add all of the "branding" art from the home page.
  2. Add a note that "Capitalization counts, but if you can't match the code, just click Continue to try a different code."
  3. Put more space around the elements.

 

 


Main Page

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.

  1. 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 of text.
  2. The record types enlarge when rolled over (the word "Contacts"). Don't do this. Instead use a conventional tab motif. Make the active tab white (to match the rest of the form below it). MakeTime's owner tells me this is called a "fisheye" effect and it is already on the way out.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

  1. The paging controls at the bottom of the page might need some user testing:

  1. 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 up top.
  2. The results list returns all results in the "Found" count, and this is the size of the scroll 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?
  3. Change the green (Clear Search) button to an eraser image.
  4. 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 connotation.
  5. Change the H and V buttons to horizontal and vertical rectangles.
   


Utilities Page

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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 / Survives / Does the Job Thrives

Hope this helps and let me know what you think,
Jack Bellis, UsabilityInstitute.com


"My interest in usability arose from the pain and tears of patching the wounds of suffering interface designs with the inadequate bandages of help files and user guides." — Daniel Cohen
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