New Usability Enhancements for CurdBee: Filtering, Sorting and Batch Actions

Happy New Year! We hope you guys had a great Christmas and that you’re ready to take 2011 by storm. To start the year off, we’re here to announce some cool updates to your favourite online billing solution.At Vesess, we believe that usable products are better than complicated ones. We love to work with simple and intuitive interfaces that enhance our work flow. We know that many of our customers also share the same perspective and that’s why we’re constantly working on the CurdBee User Experience.As with every other aspect of software, usability too has to evolve with the product. What looked like a usable interface at the beginning could become totally insufficient and unusable as the product develops.When we first launched CurdBee, we anticipated an average user would have around 20-30 invoices, a handful of clients and a few items to manage. Browsing through such a list and picking what you wanted was simple enough. We had a basic filtering option to help narrow-down these lists, but that was about it. As time went on however, many users grew to have 20-30 clients, dozens of items and 100s of invoices in their CurdBee accounts. We soon realised that our list display interface was dated and noticed that a lot of our users were having problems with it. So, we did what we do pretty regularly here at Vesess, and went back to the drawing board to see how we could make it simple and intuitive again. After lot of thought and tons of experimentation, we today roll out some major enhancements that we hope will improve the your work flow and make things more usable. These changes include dropping multi-page pagination for endless paging lists, the introduction of sorting and batch actions and major filtering improvements.

Endless Paging

Originally, we paginated all lists and had a maximum of 20 items per page. Pagination was a sensible approach from the development standpoint as it would reduce the load on servers. Also, it was a common UI trend and was used by many apps to display long lists. Thus, implementing it was a no-brainer.However, we noticed that as the lists started to grow, traversing back and forth through a bunch of pages to find an item you needed seemed to be too troublesome. Also, there was the possibility of missing important items such as overdue invoices, just because they were buried inside a long list of pages. These issues made rethink our use of pagination. As an alternative, we decided to replace pagination with a single-page list that loaded content on demand. This approach seemed simple and worked better with filtered and sorted lists too. Further, since all information is presented on a single page, capturing contextual information (such as the total value of pending invoices) is super easy as well.

Sorting by Column Headers

Another notable missing option in the old CurdBee list interface was the ability to sort by column headers. The ability to sort a list by its column headers seemed to be a natural interface expectation for most of us. We grew accustomed to this behaviour in the Windows 95 era and missing this on a web app was not acceptable. We knew we had to fix it.Now, all data lists on CurdBee (invoices, estimates, recurring profiles, clients and items) are sortable by their column headers. This means that you now have the option of sorting your invoices by the total due amount or your recurring profiles by the next billing date.Check the screencast below to see how easy it is to sort your lists now!

Batch Actions

Remember how much of a pain it was to go through your long list of paid invoices individually when closing or deleting them? Ever wished you could select all or close/delete in a single click?Now, you can do all of the above, and then some. You can even multi-select to view contextual information on the items you selected. That means you can do cool stuff like seeing the combined value of multiple invoices. Pretty nifty, huh?The screencast below shows this new functionality at work:

Improved Filtering

We’ve also tweaked our filtering algorithms to be more efficient and accurate. With this update, finding a particular invoice, client or item takes just a few keystrokes. Try it and see for yourself.Here’s how to narrow down a long list of invoices to view only Sent and Viewed ones.

Saved States

Of course, all this sorting and filtering can take you only so far. You also want to be able to save your customised view so you can come back to it later, right? Well, you can.Look closely and you’ll see that when you apply a filter or sort a list it changes the URL of the page. This means that your view can be bookmarked and even shared with others. So, when you’re done sorting your invoices, all you have to do is bookmark it in your browser and then jump to it at a later date when you want to access the page again.As I mentioned earlier, these changes are here because of a lot of experimentation and fine tuning. If you encounter any glitches in the current implementation or see any tweaks that would further enhance the process, please feel free to tell us via a comment on this blog post, a tweet or an email.