Disclaimer: We have recently decided to dedicate more time for experimentation at Flowdock. This is the first big experiment.
The bottom line is, Flowdock is a team inbox (Influx) with chat. And awesome tagging mechanisms and super-fast search. That got us thinking. Why is it that a dashboard with relatively little content is the first thing users see when we have other more important things to show, like Infux? So we thought, let’s get rid of the dashboard!
The dashboard contains elements that are essential for Flowdock users. We need to come up with new places for those functionalities.
- Recognizability – We use the name of the flow and company as the title of the Dashboard. Even without this experiment, we need to improve the recognizability of the flows, maybe let users add an icon for each flow and show that in the UI as well as use it as a favicon (shown as the browser tab’s icon). We decided to add a drop-down to the chat header which would take you to other flows. When not selected, it could show the name of the flow.
- Messages for you – The Dashboard lists any messages where someone mentioned your name or added your @username tag. That’s vital information so we need to add it somewhere. We decided to go with a Facebook/Google+ style message dropdown and add it above the chat.
- User list – The user list needs to be moved as well. We had lengthy discussions wether it’s a must to be able to see the list all the time. The answer we got to was no. We’ll bundle it up with the notifications
Also, we sometimes show system notifications on the Dashboard. Things like, “Install the Google Chrome app” and other stuff. We decided to bundle it up with the new messages dropdown.
One more thing we had to consider was that the Dashboard icon contains the Flowdock logo which gives the whole UI a distinctive Flowdock look. We should either keep the logo there and make sure no one mistakes it for an app icon or just drop it and try to maybe use it in another part of the UI.
The first sketches showed real promise. We were happy to see the Dashboard gone. There was some massive refactorings required to get the user list and notifications functionalities extracted from the dashboard and into the chat. We worked hard!
Here you can see what we ended up with showing the same elements 1-3 as above. It’s still kind of rough around the edges, but we’re pretty happy with the results of this 1-day dev excercise!
This way the user can focus better on what’s going on by generally always keeping Influx open. We’ll add badges and other visual cues to the new icons to show you how many new notifications you have, how many people are online at the moment etc. The flows dropdown will give you direct access to the Account page as well as logging out.
Looking For Feedback
What do you think? How do you feel about the departure of the Dashboard? Let us know in the comments, via Twitter or . We need your opinions!