Creating a dashboard for the help team

When creating a tool for the help team, one of the main things we wanted to do was find a good way to give them updates on new features and site issues. For any of you that have ever been on a help team you know that no matter how much your boss tells you it’s very important that you check your email or look at X web page for updates before each case, that’s probably not going to happen. When you are trying to get through help cases every click and keystroke counts.

So if you are supposed to check some page that only changes 1 out of 100 times you check it, it naturally falls into the list of things that you probably don’t 100% have to check. You don’t have time for that, you’ve got people to help and the queue keeps growing!

So how do you get people to look at those updates? Make it useful!

To make the page useful we tried to solve one of the other frustrations common to most help teams, the tools you need are all on different pages (maybe even managed by different teams). Go here to search for accounts, over there to search for a photo, another place to look up an ID, etc. Any search that might be needed to research a question we put all on one page. The actual tools may still reside somewhere else, but a search box is also included here so you can get to any tool you need, even the searches for pictures and people.

Here is an example of what it looks like with a few parts and dates changed for security reasons.


Directly below the searches is “Current Issues” and new FAQs. Now that this is the page you will start at for every case, you’ll always see these updates.

But is that enough? At each stage we tried to think of our audience. If you are trying to get through cases, when you go to a page over and over you start to tune out what you don’t use. To combat that tunnel vision we rotate the color of the issue title and FAQs so it’s easier to notice that something changed. (I actually usually think of that T-Rex in Jurassic park that only sees you if you move. But don’t tell the help team that’s what I was thinking. They’re actually very nice.)

When we released it to the help team, everyone made it their homepage without the boss man having to go around and make them. Success!

Now in Belorussian…

Minsk Central Train Station

As compliments to writers go, having your work translated into another language comes pretty high on the list. That said, I’m not sure I ever expected to see one of my blog posts re-interpreted in Belorussian until this weekend when I was contacted by a translator by the name of Patricia Clausnitzer.

Patricia has provided a Belorussian rendering of my post (complete with pictures of paint tins and me in a stretcher) on a site called So if you read Belorussian, you can now get the skinny on our “People in Photos” API methods in your native tongue.

And if you don’t speak Belorussian but want to code up an app that takes advantage of our people-annotating features, you can revisit the original post about the API methods here.

A lil’ time with… Timoni


Who are you, and what do you?

I am Timoni Grone, former-Nebraska-farmgirl-now-Californian-city-dweller, and I design web interfaces. I’m currently a UI/visual designer at Flickr, which is a totally rad gig.

What hardware are you using?

At work, I have a 2.15Ghz Core 2 Duo 15″ MBP, a 24″ external monitor, the short Mac keyboard and a Mighty Mouse. At home, I have a 2.67GHz 15″ MBP and a Magic Mouse. I forget how much RAM I have, but both computers are fast enough.

I also have an old Mac Mini working as a media center (hooked up to my absurdly ginormous television), a 2TB Lacie Quadra for backups, an Airport for network stuff, a 16GB wifi iPad and an iPhone 4.

I briefly had a Wacom Cintiq 12WX earlier this year. I excitedly used it for a few weeks, then left it untouched for months, and finally sold it. It was too much of a pain to switch back and forth between the tablet and my laptop.

And what software?

For web dev, I like TextMate, though I was on a strict Coda diet for a while when it made sense to have seamless FTP integration. If I’m using TextMate, I use Transmit. Current browser of choice is Chrome, cause it’s super-fast, though I prefer Firebug to Web Inspector for development.

Day to day, I use Photoshop and Illustrator all the time. I’ve been trying to switch to comping in Fireworks for a while, but for some reason it was never installed on my work computer, so I default back to Photoshop. The way it handles smart objects is a pain, but Save For Web in Illustrator can be effing tricky sometimes (also, the way Illustrator renders text below a certain size makes my eyes hurt).

I have Skitch, the scrobble app, and Dropbox running at all times on both of my MBPs. I use Dropbox to sync my work folder and one of my iTunes libraries. Works like a charm and it’s only ten bucks a month.

For print work, I use InDesign. For small things like bills & letterhead, I use TextEdit. I try to avoid halfway-done word processors like Pages and Word; the way they handle style sheets drives me batty.

I just started using Notational Velocity for my to-do lists (thanks Daniel!). I use Google Calendar for scheduling, and have SMS reminders sent to my phone (a total lifesaver). When I want to write, I use Ommwriter, the nicest little text editor out there.

On my iPad, I most often use NetNewsWire, Instapaper, the Kindle app, and Autodesk’s Sketchbook Pro.

What would be your dream setup?

We’re at a really fascinating point in hardware development right now, which makes it difficult to answer this question. My knee-jerk answer is that I want the Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer combined with an iPad combined with the Cintiq combined with, you know, a Cray supercomputer or something else equally powerful.

The problem is, really, handwriting recognition; if you’ve ever tried to use the iPad with an external keyboard, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Switching from typing to writing or drawing and back is a fucking pain. Regular notebooks allow you to draw and write without changing your hand position, which doesn’t seem like a luxury until you try actually working on a tablet and then find you need to input text.

SJ may think that styli are inelegant, but the fact is, using a pen to write or draw on paper is both comfortable and easy; it’s just not as fast as typing. Most people are content with inputting data via a keyboard, and this makes sense for a lot of jobs: marketing, business development, finance, and programming, for example. But for the designers, there’s a big gap between starting the creative process and executing the product design *because* it’s much easier to sketch out your ideas on paper, with a pen, than a computer. And this is unfortunate; in the future, we should have computers that allow us to keep contexts for different stages of product development. The iPad and ThinkPads are steps in the right direction, but they’re still awfully clumsy, which is why, in part, people criticize the iPad as a product for mere consumption.

I want a Moleskine that is a blindingly superfast computer. That’s my dream setup.