Like any hard work that leads to greatness, building a recipe is a cognitive challenge that requires deep focus.
This means reaching the state of “flow” where the brain is performing at its peak and entirely focused on the task at hand.
As we design the recipe building experience, enabling this state of flow for builders is the goal. A clear UI reduces the “friction” or cognitive load for the builder, and enables focus exclusively on the recipe itself. Every element of the building experience is considered a part of this larger picture to empower builders to be more productive.
Some recent enhancements were made to the recipe building experience, so I sat down with Nishtha Mehrotra, Head of Product Design at Workato to talk through some of these changes.
What changes have been made recently to the recipe building experience?
At a high level, we have added the ability to click and drag to select groups of steps, as well as the ability to right click on recipe steps to change them quickly.
This enables users to quickly change recipes as they build them by reorganizing and manipulating actions in bulk.
Before, you couldn’t right click or do anything on the canvas. When you right clicked, you would just see the standard menu associated with the browser. When it came time to move actions around within a recipe, you could only do so one by one with individual steps.
Now, the recipe building experience has become more in line with what builders are intuitively expecting or used to.
Why is the ability to group actions important?
With the old builder, if you started building a recipe, and, for example, decided that you wanted to put all of them under an error block after the fact, you had a lot of work to do. You had to painstakingly move each step that you had already created one by one. This was tedious and subject to user error.
Now this adjustment has become so much simpler. You can just just drag to select the actions you need to monitor, move the group to the error block, and you’re done!
The recipe drafting process is an iterative one. Many builders add actions and then reorder or adjust them later. Repetition is a blocker to that experience – the more repetition a builder has to undertake, the more the state of flow evaporates and focus diminishes.
Moving or making changes to groups of actions should be easy, so we have also added the ability to right click on single or groups of actions to quickly improve the recipe.
Why the right click?
Say you need a recipe to keep running, but there are steps that require troubleshooting. If you want to skip the error steps but you need to address it later, but the recipe needs to keep running in the meantime?
Before the enhancements, you were stuck with a bunch of manual work. You had to select each step one by one and select skip for each one.
This applied to other actions, too. Any change needed for an action happened on individual steps, including commenting, moving, cloning, masking, and deleting meant working through actions one by one.
Now you can drag and select as many steps as you want, right click, and select skip. Done!
Changed your mind? Select them again to unskip a group. Recipe building becomes so much easier, especially when working with big recipes.
These enhancements are all made in the spirit of a clear and simple UI. Additional buttons around the screen add cognitive lag and a need to remember where things are. Now with the right click menu, cloning, commenting, masking, and deleting are always available wherever your cursor is on the screen.
We ultimately wanted to reduce clutter and eliminate any confusion, and right clicking is just an action that users already expect based on their experience with other apps.
Customizing the view is easier as well?
For some time we have offered zoom in and zoom out features that allowed use of either your trackpad or the controls in the upper right hand corner of the recipe builder to fit the entire recipe to the screen, zoom into, and others.
But these controls were either not known or required you to travel across the screen with your cursor. It was less user-friendly.
But now you can right click on the canvas and reset the recipe to the default size, or you can zoom out to make the entire recipe fit the screen.
This is done in the spirit of ease of use but also just to maintain the workflow of the user – as you are working you can tune your view on the fly.
If/Else conversions have become easier as well.
At some point, users come across if conditions and if/else conditions.
Often people build recipes with an if condition and then later realize they wished they implemented an if/else condition instead.
In the old builder, it was really hard to convert these into if/else conditions. You had to add a new condition, and move each step one by one. It was very easy to accidentally change the order of the steps or forget a step.
With this enhancement, since it is easy to select multiple things, it just becomes much simpler to change any logic that you have on the recipe, including migrating from an if condition to an if/else condition.
If you have any thoughts to share about the new recipe building experience, please drop us a note at [email protected].