Improving our dashboard experience

Y’all can now stop asking about when we’re going to update our dashboard—it’s here! Go log in right now to see the new design in action.

The “When are you going to update your dashboard?” question has been bugging us for a while. Not because it’s a poor question—it’s a great question, in fact—but because completely revamping the dashboard experience is no easy task. We contend with dozens of moving parts, thousands of lines of code, and the hopes that we’re going to make our users happy.

So, over the last few months, we’ve been improving the look, feel, and functionality of the SSD Nodes dashboard. We took our time, but we’re finally ready to share our progress and talk about what’s coming next.

The new experience

You can log in to see the new dashboard right now, or check out the screenshot below.

Here we see a pretty typical SSD Nodes user: a few active servers, a handful of support tickets, some SSD Nodes credit, and active notifications.

In previous incarnations of the dashboard, active servers and support tickets were buried behind vague numbers. Other critical areas were hidden behind multiple clicks on drop-down menus. There was no way to see if you have any SSD Nodes credit at a glance, and, overall, a cluttered design made finding information difficult.

Now, we’ve been able to unclutter the experience while also making it easier to find what you need.

That’s why delivering the information you need in as little time as possible was our biggest priority. We’ve highlighted your active servers and support tickets, two of the most commonly-trafficked areas of the old dashboard. With a single click, you can either examine a single server, search through all your servers, or get the latest update on an open ticket. Scrolling down reveals other information of lesser priority, such as domains, invoices, information about your affiliates account, and more.

We also wanted to create a more app-like experience with a full-page layout that uses responsive design to display the maximum amount of information given your screen size, whether you’re on a 30″ monitor or a 4.5″ smartphone.

To improve flow and usability, we eliminated the need for full-page reloads. As you navigate the dashboard, the primary content area will update while the side navigation and top menu remain static. This makes the entire dashboard experience much faster by reducing the amount of work for your browser. It also feels super nice. Those who don’t allow JavaScript, of course, will get all the same functionality via full-page reloads.

 

The redesigned product details area, with more information density.

The homepage isn’t the only place where we’ve made significant improvements. The product details page is a critical piece of the dashboard, and has received particular attention during this redesign process. To improve usability, information density, and ease-of-use, we reconfigured the product details page to highlight essential information, such your server’s IP address, your hostname, and more. You shouldn’t have to scroll down to figure out how to log into your new server.

The roadmap

Of course, the dashboard’s current state is not final. Not by any means. In fact, we have plenty more planned for the dashboard, both regarding design and functionality. The most important part of this dashboard redesign is establishing the foundation on which we will build even more.

Here are some of the key landmarks on the dashboard’s journey to a fully-fledged v2.0 status.

More information density

Right now, you can view your active servers on the dashboard homepage and all of your servers on the My products & services page. One issue many users have brought to our attention is how little information is available on both of those pages. If you want to know any specifics, such as an IP address, or if you only want to know whether a particular server is running, you have to visit the product details page.

You should be able to do that directly from the main view. We’re currently working on an improvement that displays far more information about each active server as soon as you log in. With far improved responsive design, plus a full-width experience, we’ll be able to create the most information-rich experience for screens of all sizes.

Look for this update in the next few months.

A more consistent experience

We use many platforms to serve users of different types, and thus we use a handful of modules to enable features like starting/stopping servers, displaying usage graphs, and so on. Currently, these modules might have some inconsistent visuals and design.

We’re getting started on this as soon as we can. Really.

The little things

No roadmap would be complete without a few vague promises. We won’t break that tradition. Throughout 2018, we’ll be working on plenty of other improvements to make using SSD Nodes smoother than ever.

How was that for vague?

We can offer something concrete: You can provide feedback on this new dashboard right now. We’ll take your suggestions, whether it’s a single out of place pixel or a large feature request, and then decide what we can and should do next.

I, for one, am happy to start putting the “When are you going to update your dashboard?” question behind me, if only so we can start listening and solving the next ones.

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