Design Decisions: A Deep Dive Into the New App Creation Experience

Last week we launched a new version of our process for creating QuickBase applications. The previous version has been around, with some small tweaks, for at least five years. The Application Era is still in its infancy, but already apps are available everywhere from the computer to the television to the phone.  Expectations on how to easily access and create apps have grown and the user experience at QuickBase needed to evolve. Our goal was to make it easier for people who are just starting with QuickBase to get up and running quickly and easily.

This is what our Create a New QuickBase Application page looked like before the latest release:

It was fairly simple – several app categories, a few creation methods and a link to our app library, all listed on the left of the screen with some instructions to the right. A few missing features were obvious. There were no apps from which to select. They were buried under a few more pages of choices and descriptions. Also, the list was a combination of categories, creation methods, and a link to a separate location to find similar content. The pre-built application set included around 20 applications. To access the library of over 200 additional pages you would have had to navigate away from this page. There was no searching or sorting or simple browsing of the entire catalog.

In addition, the interaction was sometimes awkward or unexpected. For example, upon clicking database style on the left you would have seen (or maybe not noticed) the content in the right box changed. If you had noticed the change (which I never did, even after four years of using the product), you would have seen it provided yet another link to click to get to the actual page were an app could be created using the database style.

The process was also linear and static. You had to select a category, choose an app, view a description page, name the app and finally click an OK button. There was no method for quickly selecting a pre-built application with which to get to get started.

To begin, we conducted a comparison test using a concept that simplified the process into a single choice: template vs. blank app.  We put the content in a dialog to keep people in the context of their original starting point – the My QuickBase page. After a few weeks of live testing against our existing experience, we found this concept actually performed worse. Fewer apps were created.

So we went back to the original page concept, reworked the information organization and added features like search that people have come to expect in a selecting from a large set of items.

First, we simplified the creation methods and placed each into its own tab, defaulting to the most used method – selecting a template.

Next, instead of just the 20 template applications we added access to the entire QuickBase app library directly from within the product experience. You can now browse categories, search for apps, and sort the results without having to navigate away to a separate library database. We also provide a selection of featured applications that can be added to your account by simply clicking “Get It Now.” Each application includes additional information to help make choosing easier: a description, an updated date, the number of installs, and an icon to indicate whether it was created by QuickBase or by a community member.

And lastly, the other two creation methods – From Scratch and Import – now have their own tabs and enough screen real estate to allow full interaction with the sub methods without having to navigate away from the context of the Create a New QuickBase Application page.

There was a question from the QuickBase team as to whether the non-default creation methods would be discoverable in the new tab model. Using the online service usertesting.com we quickly put together a short test comparing our new model to the old page.  It was clear discoverability would not be an issue. We will continue to monitor what effect the new experience will have on the number of apps created, but we feel overall the experience has been dramatically improved.

Rob Keohane

As Senior User Experience Designer, Rob's goal is to make using Intuit QuickBase easy and engaging.

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  • http://quickbase.intuit.com/ Intuit QuickBase

    Thanks, Rob!

    To all our users: We’d love to know what you think about the recent changes! Feel free to leave comments below.

    [Reply]