Monthly Archives: February 2013

How to make beautiful forms

We spend a lot of time helping our customers build online forms and contract boilerplates to be e-signed. Along the way, we’ve uncovered some useful tips we thought we’d share.

The most challenging issue that people face when laying out a form is dealing with columns. Columns are a great way to use space and visually associate related information in a form for desktops and laptops. They become a real problem for people accessing those same forms from a mobile device. Since there are just as many mobile devices in use as computers these days, you don’t really want to alienate one type of device or the other.

How To Build an Add-on Step 3: Write Code

Normally we start our designs in Balsalmiq but sometimes it makes more sense just to scribble on some sticky notes and start building. This is one of those times. The big effort here was figuring out the workflows and deciding what not to do.

With some knowledge of Harvest’s API and some stickies, we were able to determine that it was likely possible to “attach a contract to an estimate” as our focus group had suggested. This would involve:

  • Pulling an estimate from Harvest into Inkdit
  • Formatting the estimate for use in Inkdit

How To Build an Add-on Step 2: Listen

Before we started building our add-on, we spent some time listening. We did two things:

  1. Read Harvest’s API documentation and did some basic prototyping. It’s easy to paint yourself into a corner if you don’t know the limits of the integration you’re building.
  2. Met with a group of Harvest users to discuss what their needs are. People don’t always know exactly what they want, but it’s worth finding out what they think they want! We plan to measure and learn from how people behave as well but that comes later.

How To Build an Add-on: Glossary

Ahhhh Jargon …our old friend with the inside jokes. Here are a few of bits of jargon we use when building an add-on.

When two web apps talk to each other to do useful things.
Alternate name for an integration with a marketer’s spin.
API (Application Programming Interface)
The way one web app “talks” to another web app.
Web App (Web Application)
a.k.a. SaaS (Software as a Service) A web site that you use as a tool to do things in the same way that you use software that is installed on your computer or mobile device.