Feedback we received so far about PlannerX:
A common feedback from all people we talked is that it’s easy to use and strips out all complications.
These comments make us proud because we spent considerable time tweaking UI and usability of PlannerX. As a matter of fact, about 15 days ago, Naveen Dhanuka – a good pal and usability expert, told me that PlannerX is “clumsy and highly unintuitive“. Now, it wasn’t that the product was in finished state at that time, but his comments upset me. We had already spent weeks trying to get it to work with keyboard and make it really easy to view the plan and edit it.
Naveen gave me a lot of suggestions. I realized that many people won’t even know what an Outliner is. Since I (and my team) was using OmniOutliner for long, does not mean that everyone else will be familiar with a tree structure and creating a work breakdown with that.
The next fortnight was spent ironing out the workflow and adding hints and making overall usability improvements. (Thanks Naveen!) Here’s a sample of some feature we built in PlannerX trying to make it easier for the users.
- If there is only one project, it will load / reload by default
- When a project plan opens, first row will be in edit mode – indicating that editing is possible!
- Changed icons for three levels of outline to explicitly say “milestone”, “to-do list” and “to-do”. We designed them to be similar to Basecamp icons too!
- Added a hint / status text at the top of the application. It shows up when you start, and in between where we felt we could show a hint. E.g. if you use indent button, it will tell you that you could also use the Tab key!
- Focus mode – ensured that icons for levels remain intact. (Tech Note: We are using AdvancedDataGrid Flex component to show the outline, and we change its data provider when you focus.)
- Naveen was really mad at our use of red color! I kind of like it, but we reduced it a bit in the UI 😉
- We have Quick Help to show keyboard shortcuts and explain key concepts.
- Milestones show as bold!
- Completed items show in light gray.
- We also took great pains to ensure focus stays in proper places. E.g. batch update (Ctrl + .) takes focus to the text field to make entry, pressing enter updates all selected items, and brings focus back to item you were editing.
- Focus mode – font size is bigger to let you focus on milestone / list you are working on!
While I look back at it, it’s small things like this, that would make an application more fun to use. We kept the graphic design very simple – bare bones actually – and focused more on interaction and speed.
What do you think about PlannerX’s usability? What are your suggestions?
We are eager to hear!