Microsoft CRM’s New Navigation UI


The New Navigation UI


Did you notice that we redesigned the navigation model for V3.0? I’ll bet you did. In 3.0, we adopted the ever popular Outlook style navigation pane (a.k.a. the Wunderbar).


 


Today, I’d like to introduce the Workplace concept and describe how it fits into our overall navigation model. The focus of this post is primarily the browser client. We’ll talk about navigation in Outlook another time.


 


A History Detour


In earlier versions of CRM, the primary navigation was presented in a navigation bar at the bottom of the application window – it looked at bit like the Windows Taskbar.


 



 


This bottom navigation bar, grouped the application functionality into top level areas. Secondary navigation was presented in a left hand pane, where you find the “pages” of the application (e.g. Accounts, Contacts, Activities, and so on). As we started to add functionality to the system, it became very apparent that there were some real shortcomings in this design. In addition to a series of structural and organization problems, it came down to aesthetics: too many items in the navigation bar looked bad.


 


We looked at a lot of design alternatives before finally settling on the Outlook style navigation pane. This is a good design approach for a variety of reasons, not the least being familiarity. More than this, it places all of the navigation elements in a single column, eliminating the awkwardness of the bottom, then side, then top flow of user interaction.


 


Ok, simple enough? Well, we weren’t quite satisfied with a simple lipstick fix -- as we considered the redesign, we looked to our user research studies of existing CRM customers; some findings emerged:



  • Users work in a limited number of places
  • There are a lot of pages that specific users don’t need – they’re clutter
  • Users in different roles use different parts of the application (perhaps, stating the obvious).  

From these, the concept of a single Workplace was born.


 


A Workplace Tailored to Your Needs…


The vision for the Workplace:



  • Provide a role based collection of the relevant work areas
  • Provide the user direct entry points into the parts of the CRM application that user needs to access frequently
  • Increase discoverability of areas,
  • Eliminate unnecessary clutter in the left navigation.


 


How does it work? Out of the box, there are two groupings in the Workplace: “My Work” and “Customers”. These are “built in” groups that all users receive by default. In addition, the user can personalize the Workplace by selecting additional groupings of CRM application pages that apply to their role or job function.


 


Wrapping it up


The Workplace in a nutshell:



  • Role based: Organized around your work
  • Provides direct entry points into work
  • Increases discoverability of main areas
  • Allows getting to important places fast

 


In my next post I’ll suggest a few ways that CRM end users can personalize their navigation experience.


 


Derik Stenerson

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