Design

Plugging in Real Data for the First Time

Jun 06, 2014

I recently sat down with a friend who has shown interest in Cushion since I first mentioned it. I gave her a demo, but we also set up an account for her and plugged in all of her data—clients, projects, and invoices. I was both amazed and thrilled that she would let me input her real data even after suggesting we use dummy data for privacy. I’m glad we used the real data because her data instantly revealed a dozen issues with the current version.

2014-06-05-new-project-client

For one, she doesn’t have a single client with more than one project. This became a huge issue as we constantly needed to jump back and forth, creating a client, then creating a project. It felt uncomfortably redundant. Because of this, I added a "New client" option to the client dropdown in the project form. Selecting it adds a few extra fields to the form, so you can also create a client there with a single click. The input fields also use the project fields as default values, so you don’t need to set the same color twice if it’s the same as the project.

2014-06-05-timeline-divider

The second major issue I discovered was sequential timeline items that shared the same color. It was difficult to see the edge between them, but also, smaller projects would easily be lost without a label. To fight this, I added a very thin, transparent line to the edge of each item. It’s dark enough to show a separation without too much contrast. Even though I’m a sucker for full fills of color, I actually love the look these lines provide. The timeline feels much more solid.

2014-06-05-timeline-hover

Along with the divider, I finalized the hover state of the timeline items for when a label collapses to its abbreviation. Prior, I would show a tooltip-like element above the item and call it a day, but after adding the divider line, I decided to dim the item behind the tooltip. With the smaller projects, this really makes it clear as to which project you are hovering.

The third and final problem I’ll point out is the timeline’s inability to handle tiny items. For example, if your timline is set up with a goal of $100,000 and you have an unpaid invoice of $100 for a friend project, it should show up as the tiniest of slivers. Unfortunately, a CSS border forces a minimum width of twice the border width, so a 4px border would make any item at least 8px wide. I got around this by using the CSS outline instead. It allows the same controls as border (except for sides), but doesn’t have a minimum width.

I hope to have more in-person demos in the coming weeks, so I can find even more of these issues. It’s an incredibly valuable learning experience for me.

Share this on Twitter or Facebook

Archive

  1. Our First Company Lunch
    Story
  2. How to embed Vue.js & Vuex inside an AngularJS app... wait what?
    Dev
  3. Funding Cushion
    Story
  4. Hiring a Team of Freelancers
    Story
  5. Taking a Real Break From Work
    Story
  6. Slack as a Notification Center
    Dev
  7. Document Your Features
    Story
  8. 300
    Story
  9. Vacations
    Design
  10. Offering Discounts
    Design
  11. Waves of Traffic
    Story
  12. Less Blogging, More Journaling
    Story
  13. Retention Through Useful Features
    Design
  14. The Onboarding Checklist
    Design
  15. Spreading the Word
    Story
  16. From Beta to Launch - The Subdomain
    Dev
  17. From Beta to Launch - Sign up
    Design
  18. From Beta to Launch - Messaging
    Design
  19. Launch
    Story
  20. Authenticating with 3rd Party Services
    Dev
  21. Intro to Integrations
    Design
  22. Inspiration vs Imitation
    Story
  23. The Emotional Rollercoaster
    Story
  24. Designing Project Blocks
    Design
  25. Everything in Increments
    Story
  26. Deleting Your Account
    Design
  27. Designing the Subscription Page
    Design
  28. Rewriting the Timeline
    Dev
  29. Restructuring the Individual Project Page
    Design
  30. Project Blocks
    Story
  31. Redesigning the Homepage
    Design
  32. Multiple Timelines
    Design
  33. Archiving and Estimate Differences
    Design
  34. Multiple Financial Goals
    Design
  35. Zooming in on the Timeline
    Design
  36. Currency
    Dev
  37. Preferences, Accounts, and a Typeface Change
    Design
  38. Sending Out the First Email
    Story
  39. Currency Inputs, Notifications, and Invoice Nets
    Design
  40. Dots and Lines
    Design
  41. Calculating in the Database and Revealing Tendencies
    Dev
  42. Improved Form UX
    Design
  43. Cushion is Online
    Story
  44. Schedule Timeline Patterns
    Design
  45. A Slimmer Schedule Timeline
    Design
  46. The Schedule Timeline
    Design
  47. Plugging in Real Data for the First Time
    Design
  48. Transitions and Project Lists
    Design
  49. Death to Modals
    Design
  50. The Individual Project Page
    Design
  51. Estimated Incomes and Talks with Other Freelancers
    Story
  52. Statuses to Lists and the Paid Beta
    Story
  53. The Timeline
    Story
  54. Invoice Terminology
    Dev
  55. Modal Forms
    Dev
  56. Wiring the Backend to the Frontend
    Dev
  57. Balancing Design and Dev
    Story
  58. Timecop, Monocle, and Vagrant
    Dev
  59. Going with Ruby and Sinatra
    Dev
  60. Ditching local-first and trying out Node.js
    Dev
  61. Switching to AngularJS
    Dev
  62. Building the Table with Vue.js
    Dev
  63. Clients, Projects, and Invoices
    Dev
  64. Introduction
    Story

Ask a Freelancer

A podcast series where experienced freelancers answer questions about freelancing.

Listen to the Podcast

Talking Shop

An interview series where we talk to freelancers about important topics in the freelance world.

Read the Interviews

Running Costs

Take a close look at the costs that go into running a web app and why we use specific services.

View the Costs

How It’s Made

Follow along with the journal for insight into the overall experience of building an app.

Read the Journal