From ProofHub to ProofHub Bolt — Brainstorming, challenges, and solutions

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Developing a product that meets customer needs, and makes life easy for them is a big challenge in itself. And, we managed to achieve that when we came up with ProofHub — the complete project management tool that helps teams to plan, collaborate, organize and deliver projects, almost five years ago in 2011. Since then we have continued to make changes, both big and small, in the tool from time to time.

Whether it was addition of Gantt charts a couple of years back or coming up with our native mobile app last year, we’ve always been a huge advocate of change. Things were going pretty smooth with ProofHub, and both we and our users were pretty happy with how it worked. But, as we aspire to become the best in the field of project management, it was time for us to move a step ahead and give ProofHub a makeover.

While writing the first code in 2011, the idea was to only introduce proofing first. But with time, we turned it into a full-fledged project management tool. As the technology changed, and new trends emerged within past few months, it was about time for us to go back to the drawing board, have a new plan and re-write the whole code from scratch. The idea was to re-create what we had and make it much faster, more intuitive, better looking and robust. Although we wanted to give our tool a complete makeover, but we still wanted to keep intact its simplicity, which has been our hallmark since day one. And, that’s why the challenge became even more intense.

While the entire team was excited about the makeover, we did not want to be complacent about starting in a hurry. So the first step that we took was to plan things. A big part of planning involved the evolving user habits, understanding issues underlying with the current version and what new we need to bring within the tool.

Let us first take a look at the challenges -

A. User habits

In order to make sure that the new version of our tool is foolproof, the first thing we were supposed to do was to understand the evolving user habits. And, based on that understanding implement changes in the current version. Here’s what we found out -

  • Simplicity

A project management tool’s job is to make life easy for the user and not the other way around. People like things simple, neat and clean. Although we were pretty pleased with the interface of our tool, but still it could be simplified. That’s where the idea of changing the user-interface and giving it a more neat and clean look came into being.

  • Speed

Work, these days, is all about lesser clicks and being quick. Whether you are running a freelance business or a full-fledged IT company, it is all about getting things done quickly and on time. ProofHub was already making work life easy for our users, but it needed to make it quicker.

  • Smooth interface

Another important factor that we observed during our research of user habits was that people don’t like using too many clicks while working on project management software. This was a major concern with our current version, as we had to reduce the number of clicks in order to give users a serene experience of using the tool.

B. Problems with the current version

Every company loves their own product. So did we. ProofHub was perfect for us. However, we could not ignore the fact that in order to keep our pace up with the evolving market trends, we needed to identify the potential problems before they would creep up. So, we did. And, here’s what we found -

  • Look and feel

When we sat together to discuss the makeover thing, one of the first points that came out was that we needed to improve the look and feel of the tool. The idea was to make it more neat, clean and user-friendly. So the designing team pulled up their socks and started with the design ideas.

  • No consolidated view

We needed to give them something from where they could peep into everything happening in the project. Also, Adi, one of the coders here with us, was of the view that users be given something more private — an area where they could get to see all the work assigned to them in one-view.

  • Less automated

Time tracking in ProofHub has always been fairly easy. You could simply add the number of hours spent on tasks into timesheets and keep track of your time. However, adding an automatic timer was the need of the hour.

The solutions we came up with

We could see that there lied a big task ahead of us. So, how we went about it? Well, take a look -

A. The all new look and feel

  1. Brand new user interface
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The first challenge we had at our hand was to change the user interface. We wanted to create an interface where you could easily see all the important things in one view. Here are some key elements that you can see in the new user-interface

  • Top-down flow in navigation, where the overall view remains on top. And, as you start to move downwards, you get to see individual project options and individual section options beneath it.
  • Consolidated view across all sections, which means that you don’t need to shuffle across different screens while using the tool. Everything has been put together on a single screen now to make the tool less complex, and far less confusing than it was ever before.
  • The number of clicks to perform an activity has also been kept to the bare minimum. This makes the user experience a smooth and serene one.

B. The all new features

To take project management to that next level, we thought of incorporating some advanced features to it. Here’s what we added -

  • File versioning

When work is flowing at a rapid rate, you simply cannot afford to waste time juggling between multiple files to find the latest version of it, after the changes. To put an end to this confusion, we’ve added the file versioning feature in Bolt. You will now be able to store multiple versions of a single file. Based on requirement, you can track changes, view all the previous versions or even restore one as and when needed.

  • Timer
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The addition of timer in Bolt will make sure that time is always on your side. In order to track time on your activities, now all you have to do is simply click the timer on. And, it will track the time spent on those activities, which you can maintain in neat and beautiful timesheets.

  • Me-view

Me-view is the space where you can see all your upcoming tasks, events and milestones. So, you can keep an eye on what lies ahead, and plan your work in a streamlined manner.

  • New Projects

We’ve revamped the projects completely. They now come in two different sections “Assigned to me” and “Managed by me”. So there is no confusion to find out which projects are being managed by you and which are the ones that have been assigned to you by someone else. Also, you can now mark projects as starred to keep your important projects, or the ones on which you are spending most of your time currently, on top.

  • Quickies

Quickies have become more advanced with the addition of shortcuts. Now you can add important topics, tasks, notebooks or notes, folder and timesheets as shortcuts in quickies and access them from there only. So, whenever you are in quick need to access any of these, you can turn to quickies.

  • Autosave in Notes

Autosave functionality in notes has been the most anticipated feature by our users. And, this time in Bolt we’ve come up with just that. So the next time you create a note and jot down something in it, it gets automatically saved.

C. Improved speed and more

As the name suggests, ProofHub Bolt also comes with a manifold increase in its loading speed. You will see that it takes lesser time to load and moving from one section to another is lightning quick. We’ve worked on the crux of the tool and created everything from the ground level. And, that’s the reason why took close to ten months to build ProofHub Bolt.

There you have it! The entire story about where we began with ProofHub and how we ended up reaching at ProofHub Bolt with a never ending list of additions, changes and advancements.

However, this is simply not it. There are plenty of more changes that you will see in the near future. Workflows are going to be our next major addition, which will be added pretty soon. Mobile apps are being reworked completely. And, there are so many small and big changes being worked upon behind the curtains.

Originally published at www.linkedin.com.

Written by

Chief Marketing Officer@ProofHub. Featured writer on LinkedIn. Contributor at Elearning Industry, Dzone, Your Story and Business.com.

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