Design

Preferences, Accounts, and a Typeface Change

Sep 26, 2014

These past couple weeks, I’ve been focusing on making Cushion feel like a legit app. To me, this entails adding all the little parts that can be easily skipped early on, like the ability to change your password. For a public app, these are essential, but in my eyes, you can go without them for a week or so when holding a private beta.

2014-09-26-preferences

Alongside smoothing out the experience, I started building in convenience features, like preferences. Since getting Cushion in the hands of others, there has been an obvious need for certain defaults, so when a user fills out a form, they don’t find them setting the same value on the same field every single time.

The most apparent of these fields was the invoice’s relative due date, or net. Most freelancers use the same net for every project and they all vary in generosity, from “net 30” to “due upon receipt”. Now, I have a preference for this field, so whenever the user creates a new invoice, the net is that value by default.

With new additions, it’s good to hold back from implementing them until you have at least two examples to use. For example, I wouldn’t add a preferences section if I only had this one preference. That’s why I added two more—default tab and default view.

For me, the projects section with the schedule view is the page I use the most, but this isn’t the case for everyone. If you’re less about scheduling and more about accounting, you might live in the invoices tab with the budget view. With these new default tab and view preferences, any time you switch from the account/preferences section of Cushion back to the timeline section, it will take you to your default.

2014-09-26-account

Speaking of accounts and preference, I don’t think I ever mentioned this second side of Cushion. From the beginning, users have only had access to the timeline section, which consists of the client, project, and invoice tabs. Now that I’m adding all the necessary parts of a real app, I established a top level navigation for switching between the timeline section and the account/settings/whatever-you-want-to-call-it section. This navigation system works pretty well so far, allowing a new set of view level tabs for switching between account information and preferences. For now, these are the only two tabs, but eventually, we will have a few more for hooks and integrations—the fun stuff.

2014-09-26-update-notification

Tacking onto the legitimacy of Cushion, I built a dead-simple update notification alert for users to know when I deployed a new version. It slides in from the top, just like success notifications, but it’s blue and refreshes the page upon clicking it. The downside of a web app is that a user only sees what they loaded last. This means, if they haven’t refreshed the browser in weeks, which has happened with past apps I’ve worked on, they will be using an older, potentially incompatible version.

I didn’t want to be wasteful and poll for changes. Instead, I decided to use a custom response header X-App-Version with each API response. This value is an environment variable that I set after deploying a new version. Because the app checks the difference upon receiving a new response, like switching views, we won’t experience any of the issues we’d see from something like refreshing upon a date change—the alerts are spread out more.

I’ve been on a few betas that also use an update notification, but I noticed that they often forget to include what’s new. I get excited for updates, but then I need to spend a few minutes digging through the app, looking for changes. For Cushion, I created a new changelog page, which the alert links to. The changelog runs on the same static system that this journal runs on, so if I spot a typo, I don’t have to prompt the user of an update by deploying the change.

2014-09-26-font-table

The last bit of progress I’ll cover in this post is the obvious font change. I’ve been keeping this in the back of my mind since the beginning, knowing I would need to eventually pick one other than Helvetica Neue. After literally hours of switching between several fonts and just staring at the screen, I decided to go with Facit by Just Another Foundry. The decision was tough, but in the end, I picked Facit for its personality, solidity, and beautiful italics.

2014-09-26-tooltip

The typeface has a very wide range of weights, which work incredibly well in Cushion’s interface. I’ve been able to find areas in Cushion that benefit greatly from a variance in thickness, like the timeline tooltips. Overall, I think like Facit gets me closer to that solid, reliable feel that I want users to experience when using the app.

Share this on Twitter or Facebook

Archive

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

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