Creating Better Experience in Zoho Projects

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We evaluated the existing user interface, sketched out different designs, discussed the merits and demerits of each to have a flexible user interface that is easy to use. After an extensive design journey with many iterations,
finally arrived at the new version which we’ve shipped. We are very happy with the outcome and believe it simplifies your use of Zoho Projects.

Ease of use
This goal is obvious, but what exactly does ease of use mean in the context of a task entry ?

As an example, for regular task entry, one very important aspect of “ease of use” is that to enter or edit a task requires very few clicks. This is something done over and over each day and any extra click quickly turns into an annoyance for the user. That is why the new contextual pop-ups are designed to keep the number of clicks to a minimum in Zoho Projects.
Our contextual pop-ups offer a powerful and an easy way to enter tasks, create events in calendar, log meetings, associate documents/forums and do more right from the same page in matter of few seconds.
Here goes the snapshot showing a contextual pop-up implemented in task details view

Contextual Pop-ups in Zoho Projects

Let me walk through the important changes implemented in Zoho Projects with focus on simplicity and ease of use :

Customize your columns in task view

Are there certain columns in task view that you don’t need to see each time you log in? For this, use the new Customize Columns
feature to choose the columns you’d like to hide. Simply click the new ‘Customize Columns’ link and select the columns you’d like to hide and you’re done.
Easily distinguish attached files in tasks

Before, there is no way to differentiate tasks with associated files or forums from the rest. Now, the newly introduced notes with attachment icon quickly helps you to distinguish the tasks with associated files/forums from others at the blink of an eye.

Gain more visibility with gantt charts

Great that you can drag and edit gantt charts, but should be able to drag into the next month rather than stop at the end of the current month. With this update, comes the custom period which allows you to view and edit tasks beyond current month. Isn’t it cool? Best of all, gain deep insights about the project progress with all tasks (open/closed) chart view.
Allocate tasks from resource charts

Want to allocate a task right from the resource chart view? Just click on a grey bar against a particular team member’s view and a contextual pop-up gets displayed. With this, enter umpteen tasks right from the resource charts and save your time.

Learn more about other features from What’s New

We see that we did most things right. But as always, we realize that there is room for improvement.

And remember, every time you send a feedback, you’re triggering us to work towards making your experience the best with Zoho Projects.

Log into Zoho’s Project Management Software
, play around and share your views about the new changes as comments here or mail us at

Increasing SMBs’ capabilities, at little cost, with CRM

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Thanks to a combination of economic pressures and the
ability to interact closer with the customer, there’s been a notable rise in SMBs
implementing CRM, said Michael Fauscette, Group Vice President, Software Business
Solutions at



At the CRM Evolution Conference in New York City, I spoke
with Fauscette and Brian Vellmure, Principal and Founder of Initium, LLC (


) about the current
state of SMBs deploying and integrating CRM into their business processes.

SMBs awoke to wanting to implement CRM when the recession
hit, said Vellmure. It was a time everyone was trying to “do more with less.”
Today, that productivity and customer connectedness has carried through. They’re
using CRM to acquire more customers and automate marketing processes, continued

As for integration, Vellmure is seeing a lot of growth in
business intelligence. Companies are getting more contextual awareness by connecting
their data with other databases, such as Hoovers.

Fauscette is most impressed with how companies are using
communities to create networks of support, thus alleviating their own customer
service demands. Not only are people helping each other, but they’re also
getting product feedback to help them actually improve the product.

Three unique ways to use Social CRM to grow your business

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You’ve got tons of customer data, but often your customers
aren’t talking directly to you. They’re talking to other customers and a lot of
people who aren’t your customers. This mass of unstructured data in the social
sphere (e.g., Twitter, YouTube, Facebook) is a goldmine not just for immediate
feedback, but for a host of unique customer service and product development

At the CRM Evolutions Conference in New York, I spoke with
analyst Ray Wang of


. He offered up three unique ways companies are taking advantage of
Social CRM:

  1. Steal sales from

    – By following your category and your competitors, you can
    discover people in purchase mode you never would have found. This is the best
    time to intercept and introduce yourself into the consideration mix.

  2. New uses for your

    – Videos of people with your product may introduce new ways to use
    your product that you hadn’t considered. Feed this information back into
    product development or new ways to market your product.

  3. Triage a problem before
    it blows up

    – When a customer has a complaint, escalate that problem to
    your company’s contact and action center and close the loop quickly so as to
    solve the problem in real time.

Are you not ready for Social CRM yet? That’s quite alright,
says Wang. While you’re waiting to launch your Social CRM campaign, start collecting
Twitter handles from your users so you can connect their social activity with
your customer database.

Visualize your data better: Conditional formatting and more!

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A chart makes it easy to see a trend over time or to compare how different figures stack up. To achieve a similar effect with plain tabular data is difficult, but not impossible! That’s what conditional formatting in Zoho Reports achieves.

Conditional Formatting of Tabular Data

You often see conditional formatting applied to financial data, where positive values are typically in green and negative values in red. A similar example below, where we show the best ‘CTR’s in green, the bad ones in red and the intermediate ones in yellow. You can apply color to the cell background and to the font (‘Clicks’ column in the below example).

Definitely easy to identify outliers and easy to comprehend, right? Zoho Reports now supports conditional formatting in base tables and query tables. We will be extending it to pivot and summary tables soon. You can access conditional formatting by right-clicking on a column.

Area and Stacked Area Charts

We have been continuously adding new chart types. The latest ones to come in are area and stacked area charts.

Try conditional formatting and area charts in Zoho Reports and let us know your feedback comments.

Cloud Software is to Desktop Software as…

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How do you think Cloud Software compares with Desktop Software?

Last week, we asked our Facebook fans and twitter followers to come up with their own analogies to describe this comparison.

Here are some of the interesting responses we’ve received so far:

On our Facebook wall:

“ to”
Adam K Dean ‎ (This one got 6 likes on our wall)

“A tap is to a dried up riverbed”
Marty Neill

“A renault 4 is to a mercedes benz”
David Castillo

“Meditating is to yawning”
​ – Josh Ward

“Man Vs Cave man”
Arif Ali

As twitter @replies:

“as Asteroids were to Dinosaurs”@caps_phisto

“credit card is to cash”@alvarofelipe

“as smiley cookies are to regular cookies”@adamgolomb

“as wings are to boat anchors”@DortchOnIT

So, which is your favorite analogy from these? Can you come up with some of your own?

Faster macros for your spreadsheet!

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We have made a significant update to the VBA Macro Engine in Zoho Sheet. Your macros could now run faster by up to 75% than before, depending on what your macro does.

Try the sample spreadsheet embedded below which uses Macros to generate Vicsek Fractals – a nice recursive pattern. Click on the ‘Generate Fractal’ button in each worksheet to generate different fractals. You can also change the number of iterations on the spreadsheet and generate the fractal again. Use the ‘Click to Edit’ button if you want to change the number of iterations.

Fractal generator using Zoho Sheet.

Learn more about this enhancement on our discussion forum.

Going forward, we will add more features to our Macros functionality
such as User Defined Functions, HTTP requests, and more. Let
us know what features in Macros, you would like to see in Zoho Sheet.

Steve Jobs, RIP

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“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” 
– Steve Jobs (1955 – 2011)
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