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Review: Highrise, part 1

Posted by Thu, 15 Mar 2007 23:45:00 GMT

So, today I got what I’ll call a platinum ticket from one of our pals at 37signals for their upcoming new application, Highrise, which is what they’d call a “shared contact manager.” The rest of you can keep hoping that you’ll win a golden ticket this weekend. ;-)

For the past year and a half, I’ve been wanting to build some sort of contact and task management tool for organizing all of the contact requests that PLANET ARGON receives about our Design and Development and Rails Hosting services. If I go away for a week, I come back to a huge backlog of people who may be waiting a response from me. Having a tool to allow others at PA to see what is in my queue and in some cases, respond on my behalf… has been needed. When I first heard about Highrise long ago, I got excited and have tried several different tools and each of those tools has left me feeling uneasy. Perhaps I’ll post some reviews of the other tools one day.

First Impressions

The signup process looks familiar… :-)

highrise signup

Look and Feel

Well, it definitely looks and feels like a 37signals application. There might have been a time when I thought that would be silly… but really, when you look at other product suites, consistency is extremely important to the user experience. While they are definitely going to attract people to Highrise who have never used any of their other products, I’d also expect a huge majority of their initial customers will be users of their other products. It’s obvious that Highrise was in response to a void in the market that people (likely customers) were asking for in other products like Basecamp.

Highrise has all the Ajaxy goodness that you’d expect in a brand new modern web application. Most of it seems very intuitive, but I found myself getting caught up on the extra tabs across the top of the screen. When new tabs appear, my natural response was to try to close them when I was finished looking at the page. Perhaps this is just a design decision that I’ll learn to really like. At the moment, I’m still not quite sure because I expect the tabs to change quite frequently.

Highrise tabs

(few minutes later)

Actually… I wonder if the interface designers at 37signals did this to help their users avoid having several tabs open in their web browser. I use Safari for Basecamp and generally have 5-8 tabs open throughout the day for different projects that our team is working on because the Dashboard view doesn’t really give me a good feel for what is happening throughout the day on our various internal and client projects. I’ll try to pay attention to my usage habits to see if I’m opening less browser tabs in Highrise.

So far, this is the one thing that I’m not quite sure about (yet).

Highrise meets Act-On

Once I saw that you could forward emails to Highrise and it’d auto-magically create a contact and store it, I jumped for joy (not literally… but I got an evil grin). I have been using (more like heavily relying on) Mail Act-On for what seems a really long time. I’m constantly forwarding emails off to my colleagues to keep things from sitting stagnant for too long. So, guess what I did?

Mail Act-On + Highrise

This is working beautifully and allowed me to move about 20 contact requests to Highrise in just a few minutes.

With this new ability, I can remove that one project in Basecamp that I was using to collect contact request information. That information now has a proper home!

Manage your Peeps

PLANET ARGON peeps

I’m taking more screenshots and going to continue putting more of our contacts into Highrise… so… consider this part one of a short series of posts.

To be continued…