Category Archives: Usability

Posts related to product design, user experience and usability.

Restyling Preferences

We have restyled your Preferences page, to be more in line with the new design of Kerika that we released a couple of months ago.  It now looks like this:

Board Preferences
Board Preferences

We are using the familiar “card container” style for showing different categories of preferences, like WIP limits, along with the left-side tabs that are similar to those you find on the Home page.

The Boards tab lets you set the following preferences:

  • The privacy of new boards you create: you can make them accessible to anyone with a link; to just people who are part of your Account Team; or to only those people you invite to the board as Board Admins, Team Members or Visitors.
  • Whether to use Work-In-Progress (WIP Limits) on new Task Boards or Scrum Boards that you create.
  • Whether to have your documents converted to the Google Docs format, if you are using Kerika+Google, or whether you want to retain them in their original format e.g. Microsoft Office.  (This preference isn’t shown to Kerika+Box users, or those users who signed up directly.)

 

Notification Preferences
Notification Preferences

In the Notifications tab you can decide how much you want to hear from Kerika when stuff happens (that concerns you).

If you are assigned a card on a Task Board or Scrum Board, and someone does chat on that card, Kerika will always push that to you as an email: we assume that since you are responsible for a card, you need to know sooner rather than later when someone has a comment or question about that work item.

If you are a Board Admin, however, you can decide how many notifications you want when stuff happens on boards that you are responsible for.

For example, you could be notified if someone adds a new card on a board: this usually means that there is new/more work to be done by your team, so you might want to quickly check whether it is important — or whether it is even relevant for that particular board.

And, as a Board Admin, you might want to know whenever someone moves a card to Done.  This is usually a welcome notification: people like to hear that stuff is getting done, but if a team/board gets a lot of stuff done every day these emails can be a nuisance and you might want to turn off this preference.

And, depending upon how involved you want to be with each card and each Team Member, you can get notified whenever a card is reassigned from one person to another.  Some Board Admins like to be very much in control over who is doing what, so if a Team Member takes the initiative to reassign work to another Team Member the Board Admin may want to know right away. Other Board Admins take a more relaxed, hands-off approach and let the team handle its own work allocation.

Finally, you can choose to get a 6AM email summary of everything that is overdue, due this week, and due next week: for all cards assigned to you personally, as well as a all cards on boards where you are one of the Board Admins.  You have the additional option of getting this list summarized by date, or by board — or both.

Canvas Preferences
Canvas Preferences

The Canvas Preferences let you determine how lines, shapes and text look like, by default, when you use Whiteboards.

One useful preference in this tab is to have items snap to grids: this helps you lay out process diagrams more neatly.

 

Sometimes we need to slow you down

While fast access to actions is generally a good thing in user interfaces, we think there are some circumstances where it might be a good idea to deliberately slow down users, if they are likely to rush into making a mistake.

One such tweak we have introduced is to collapse the Move and Sort options for arranging cards within a column into sub-menus:

Collapsed Sort menu
Collapsed Sort menu

When clicked, the Sort cards option expands to show the different sorts that are available:

Expanded Sort menu
Expanded Sort menu

Effectively, this use of a sub-menu within a an already short menu is a deliberate decision on our part to slow you down from rushing into a sorting action.

An inadvertent sort can cause some havoc if the team had previously spent many hours, or even days, carefully grooming the cards on a column (like the Backlog, for example) to arrange them in a precise order.

One rushed sort could wreck all that, so perhaps access to Sort needs to be a little harder?

We have done something similar for the Move actions that are available on cards:

Collapsed Move menu
Collapsed Move menu
Expanded Move menu
Expanded Move menu

What do you think? Smart move on our part, or dumb?  Let us know.

 

We made it easier to sync your Kerika Due Dates with your Calendar

We made some user interface tweaks to make sure people are aware of a really great feature in Kerika that’s existed for a while, but was buried in a Preferences screen that not everyone paid attention to: you can have your Kerika Due Dates automatically show up on your Google, Microsoft or Apple Calendar.

Well, that’s buried no more: we have added a Calendar Synch button in a more prominent place on the top-right of the Kerika app:

Calendar button
Calendar button

Clicking on this button will let you choose the type of calendar you want to synch with:

Calendar choices
Calendar choices

(Hint: you can have your Kerika Due Dates synch with more than one calendar, if you like.)

Pick your favorite calendar type, and you will see detailed instructions on how to set up syncing of your Kerika Due Dates. Here’s an example of syncing with Apple Calendars:

Calendar instructions
Calendar instructions

The URL is personal, and should be kept confidential. (That’s why we aren’t showing it in the illustration above.)

The URL is long and random so it will be impossible for others to guess, but it’s not a good idea to share it with others unless you really want them to know all your Kerika Due Dates, e.g. if you have an assistant or delegate that helps manage your daily schedule.

 

We aren’t going to support Highlights in the Planning Views (at least for now)

Most of the time, users are in what we call the Workflow View of their Task Boards and Scrum Boards:

Workflow View
Workflow View

It’s in the Workflow View that our new Highlights feature proves really useful:

Highlights in Workflow View
Highlights in Workflow View

In the Planning Views, however, Highlights are not as important since we expect the Planning Views to be used primarily for quick scheduling:

Planning View
Planning View

(The Planning Views, by the way, are what we refer to as the views that Kerika provides over the next few days, next few weeks and next few months.)

Is this a good assumption on our part? If not, let us know and we will add Highlights to the Planning Views as well.

A bunch of bug fixes and usability improvements for Tasks

We have done a bunch of small bug fixes and usability tweaks to the Tasks feature we introduced a few weeks ago:

  • When a user’s last Task within a card is marked as Done, the user’s name is removed from the list of people shown as being assigned to that card. (Previously you had to do this cleanup manually.)
  • When a Task that was previously marked as Done is changed to be “undone” (open/remaining), the user who had previously been assigned to that Task is added back to the list of people shown assigned to the card.
  • Bug fix: If someone is assigned to a Task, and this person had previously completed a Done Task, this user wasn’t getting added automatically to the list of people shown on the card. This has been fixed.

 

Detecting if third-party cookies are disabled

If you have signed up directly with Kerika, we use the Box Platform to store your files for you — Box is a secure, reliable cloud service and we have been a partner with them for several years.

But we do all this for you: efficiently, quietly and behind the scenes.

Which means you may never notice (and, really, you shouldn’t have to…)

However, we found that some users automatically block third-party cookies (this is a browser setting available in all types of browsers).

This was causing problems for the preview function for these users: when a user clicks on a file attached to a card or canvas, that’s getting stored in Box by Kerika for that user, we use Box’s Preview function in the form of an IFRAME.

Using an IFRAME enables us to add some Kerika-specific features, like automatic version tracking, to the standard Box Preview function.

This, however, requires users to allow Box.com to set a cookie, and this can fail if the user has never permitted Box.com to set cookies, or is automatically blocking all third-party cookies in their browser: when you are using Kerika.com, Box.com is effectively a third-party to the connection.

We want to make sure people understand this can be a problem, so we have added some smarts to Kerika to detect when people who have signed up directly are blocking Box.com.

If this is the case, a pop-up dialog box will appear explaining why the Preview function won’t work correctly without allowing Box.com’s cookies to be stored in the browser.

Including Overdue Tasks in Due This Week

In the recently added Highlights feature, we let you create your own custom highlights:

Smart choices for Due Dates

We fixed a problem where “This Week”, “Next Week”, etc. wasn’t including Overdue Tasks and cards, which could give users a somewhat misleading impression of what they needed to get done in a particular week or month.

 

After all, if something is already overdue, you will need to get that done this week along with anything that’s scheduled for this week!

Bug, fixed: Custom Highlights were getting carried over from one board to another

We fixed a bug that was kind of annoying: if you had a Custom Highlight defined for one board, and then switched to another open board, the Custom Highlight was getting applied automatically to the second board as well.

This happened only if people used the Board Switcher button that appears on the top left of the Kerika app:

Board Switcher
Board Switcher

The Board Switcher keeps track of all your open boards and is a fast way to switch between them if you are working on several different projects at the same time — you don’t have to go back to the Home page to find your boards again and again.

Every of your open boards can have Highlights set, or not, as you like. This bug fix makes that a smoother process.

Tweaking the styling of Tasks inside Cards

We really like the Tasks feature that we introduced recently: this has significantly cut down on the number of cards that we have to track on boards, since many items can be easily captured, assigned and scheduled as tasks rather than independent tasks.

This means we have a better, epic-oriented view of our boards; we don’t get lost in the weeds.

However, the first implementation of the styling could do with some improvement, so that’s what we did:

Improved styling for tasks
Improved styling for tasks

This makes it easier to see the names of people assigned to cards, and the due dates, more easily.

By the way, it took a surprising amount of experimentation before we settled on these colors: in Kerika’s design every color is supposed to have a particular meaning, so that colors appear in a consistent context in every instance.

For example, if we use blue to indicate a clickable link — like we do on the card details left tab, to let you switch between Tasks, Attachments, Chat, etc. — we can’t use blue anywhere else where it wouldn’t be clickable.

So, if blue is clickable in one place, it must always be clickable everywhere else.

This is easy enough, but we also have rules about using colors consistently across actions or displays that seem related, again to minimize the learning effort needed by new users.

Our green is used for Highlights in a consistent way:

What's Assigned to Me
What’s Assigned to Me

The breadcrumbs includes the suffix “What’s Assigned to Me” in green, the Highlights button is green to indicate that it is in use, and a green button is used to indicate that items matching the highlight are out of view.

If we are rigorous about this, there is an internal consistency about the Kerika user experience that makes it easier to learn.  But it takes a lot of discipline.

So if consistency applies a bunch of constraints in our choice of colors, so do legibility and color-blindness: we have to be careful to avoid using color combinations like red and green that are difficult for some people to distinguish.   (About 8 percent of males, and 0.6 percent of females, are red-green color blind in some way or another, whether it is one color, a color combination, or another mutation.)

All of this means that it isn’t easy to pick a new color when we design!