I was proud to be able to successfully design and implement a new feature that allowed users to create linked templates and linked child pages.
Designing a superior user experience for both template creators and editors of linked child pages was a great challenge. The designs made it easy for template creators to select linking options by providing a new set of block properties on every block. To help users understand which parts of the blocks were linked, I used a special treatment on the fields that were linked, including an icon with a tooltip and visual changes to the field. On the blocks on the stage, a small icon indicator with a tooltip shows the template creator the linked setting on the blocks without having to select the block. For linked templates that had linked child pages created from them, a prompt upon saving lets the creator know the implications that their edits would have.
For editors of linked child pages, the designs make the editing experience even quicker and painless by removing the block panel and by disabling the ability to add or delete blocks. I also added small icon indicators to the blocks that were editable to let the users know which blocks they could go in to customize. On those block’s properties pane, both an icon with a tooltip and a disabled look is used to indicate which fields had been linked to the parent template and were not editable. For blocks that were completely linked, there is a hover interaction with a tooltip to let users know why they cannot select that block.
I designed a “Review Changes” experience that would let the linked child page owners review the changes that the template creator had made to the linked parent template, and see how those changes affected their page.
The feature is slated to be released to general availability in July 2023, a year from when I started working on it. There were many challenges during the project, including resourcing, competing priorities, and changing feedback from customers. The team will iterate on additional features to fulfill the expanded needs of our customers and make this an even more robust solution. I enjoyed having the chance to overcome these challenges and deliver a successful product.
07. What’s Next?
After receiving feedback from alpha customers, we realized that the feature was too rigid and did not meet the needs of all customers. I had hired a designer for this area of the product, so I worked with the new designer to come up with a new paradigm, called “free space,” that would allow linked child pages to add anything into their free space area. Following the invention of this idea, we got further feedback on our alpha feature during customer testing at our sponsored company events. Therefore, we decided to proceed with the existing design for GA, while working on the free space idea as a fast-follow post-GA. I’m excited to get more feedback from customers as this feature continues to evolve.