Smarter Notifications

Collaboration tools are useful for teams because everyone is on the same page. It is important to determine how updates are communicated to everyone. When searching for the best solution, there are three things you should consider: What events are important enough to warrant the user’s attention
People will ignore notifications about irrelevant information and even turn off notifications. People will distrust the system if they aren’t notified about important updates or what’s important. This is where balance is key. How can notifications be delivered in the most effective way?
Many things have changed since ActiveCollab version 1. The average web user’s tolerance for email dropped dramatically as the system became more robust and sent more emails. Enter Notification Center in ActiveCollab 4. This feature added notifications to ActiveCollab’s application interface so people could choose not to receive emails. Notifications such as @mentioning a person was still sent to users. However, they could track all other information in the system without having to be bombarded with emails. Should we send notifications separately or aggregate them?
Morning Paper is a feature that ActiveCollab considers to be one of the most valuable. It answers two questions daily: “What’s due today?” “What did our team accomplish yesterday?” From a system perspective, it allows us to combine multiple notifications into one message. A reminder reminding you of something due today is one example. Morning Paper is a great way to notify people that something is due.
These questions were the basis for our team’s efforts to improve ActiveCollab Feather notifications. Version 4 introduced improvements to the way notifications are sent, so we had a solid foundation to build upon.
We began to play with ActiveCollab 4’s notification system. An icon that displays the number of unread emails and allows you to see them in a popup, is what we used. It works well and is well-known thanks to social media. We then wondered if ActiveCollab should display the number of unread messages all the time. After many discussions, we decided that ActiveCollab should not display the number of unread notifications all the time. ActiveCollab is a productivity app, and we respect our users’ decision to be in a certain mindset. They are likely working on something: writing a note, completing an assignment, or discussing something important. Users can only be interrupted while they are doing this if they are available and if there is something very important. ActiveCollab has a great channel for this. It’s not the internet interface. It’s email. Users will be notified of important ActiveCollab events if they have their email client open. Notifications from ActiveCollab
Next was to implement notification aggregateion. Each notification was given its own line in ActiveCollab 4. Each notification was its own line on the Notifications page in ActiveCollab 4.