User Interface Updates Starting May 29

It’s been right around a year since our last big user interface update.  When we made that change, our goal was to provide a more unified and screen-efficient experience to place the emphasis where it belongs: on your content, files, and tasks

Over the past few months, we’ve been working on pushing that key principle even further.  We’ve tested the current user experience with live users, and identified the places where our user experience can improve.  Over the next two weeks, we’ll be releasing a major user interface update that will improve consistency, reduce visual clutter, and make nearly every screen more usable and efficient.  Here’s some of the things you’ll be seeing:

Tuesday, May 29
1) Improved Everyone and People

Features like creating user groups and filtering users based on user profile fields have proven popular.  But as you’ve noticed if you’ve added a large number of user groups or profile filters, the original Everyone design didn’t scale well–you ended up with a very tall right hand column of filtering choices.

The new Everyone tab puts your filtering choices in a scrollable dropdown box.  You can also autocomplete your filtering criteria for even greater speed.  Now, you can create as many user groups as you want without affecting usability.

This same type of filtering capability will apply to all “lists” across the product over time — whether they’re lists of people, tasks, files, or workspaces.  This unified filtering will move to the left side of the screen across all lists, making them consistent with our search results filtering.  Coupled with some other changes in the right panel (see below), this will move us toward a less cluttered interface.

Finally, the Everyone list will change from a “paginated” interface (showing a few people at a time, with Next and Previous page navigation) to an infinite scroll list.  You can use the mouse and up/down arrows to smoothly scroll up and down in the list of people, and the scroll bar to jump to a particular part of the list.  This will dramatically reduce the work required to navigate lists of more than a couple of dozen users.  As with the filtering changes, this infinite scroll capability will find its way into all lists across the system over time.

2) Improved User Card

We’ve also overhauled the User Card, which is the user information box that pops up when you click on a user’s name.  The new User Card provides more information, and appears in more places, making it even easier to connect with your teammates.

Coming soon:
3) Revised Network Header and Live Bar

The Network Header is the top-level navigation that appears on every screen.  Meanwhile, the Live Bar is the widget in the lower right hand corner that appears on every screen.  Given the common thread, we decided to reorganize the two user interface elements to be more intuitive.

The revised Network Header will include some of the key shortcuts from the old Live Bar, such as Notifications, My Starred Items, and My Tasks.  Since these are personalized to each user, it made sense to move them next to the user’s name and account settings.  Meanwhile, Chat and Voice Conferencing will remain in a slimmed-down Live Bar.  This way, Network Administrators who don’t want chat or voice on their network will be able to disable them and eliminate the Live Bar entirely.

4) Universal Action Button

You’ve almost certainly used an action button at some point; you can find one on wiki pages (“Create Page”), while browsing files (“Upload File”), while working with tasks (“Create Task”), and on the People page (“Invite People”).  What we realized is that it’s redundant to have a single action button for the most common action, and then a completely different set of action links below that button for other actions (e.g. “Rename Page,” “Move Page,” etc.).  Showing all those options on every page cluttered the interface, and wasn’t necessary during the vast majority of page visits where someone simply wanted to view a page or file, rather than edit or revise it.

The new green Universal Action Button will appear on our main screens, like Workspaces and Everyone at the network level, and Pages, Files, Tasks, and People at the workspace level.  Clicking on it will bring up a list of possible actions (in order of importance).  If you want to work with a page, file, or task, there will be a single button that lets you do everything.

We will be launching the new Everyone and People screens, along with the new User Card on the evening of Tuesday, March 29.  You can direct your users to for more details.  We’ll be following up with the Revised Network Header and Live Bar and the Universal Action button the following week.  We hope these interface improvements will make it easier to use PBworks to get your team’s work done.

Published by Chris Yeh

Chris has been building Internet businesses since 1995. He has been a founder, founding employee, or seed investor in almost a dozen startups, including PBworks, and advises a wide array of startups ranging from network equipment makers to vertical search engines. He liked his investment in PBworks so much, he decided to join the company. Chris earned two degrees from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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