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Weekly Upgrade: More Avatars, Better Descriptions and Memos

Here are the highlights of the upgrade coming this afternoon (Tuesday, October 27):

New Batch of Avatars from Henry

Our artist, Henry Payne, sent us 12 new avatars this week, and we've added them to the gallery. Click on the Family tab and then click on an avatar next to a family member to bring up the avatar gallery. Here's what you'll see:

(Click to enlarge)
Better Descriptions and Memos for FamZoo Generated Credits and Debits

Steve K mentioned that our descriptions for credits and debits created by Checklist items were pretty cryptic (thanks for passing your comments along, Steve). An example:

 Automatic debit for checked off item: "Did not make bed"

The term "automatic debit" just doesn't feel right. It's also easily confused with the Automatic Debits that you can set up for recurring charges like cell phone insurance or World of Warcraft subscriptions.

Along the way, we also cleaned up the descriptions and memos for allowance payments, interest payments, and automatic debits. Here's a screenshot that highlights the new wording:

(Click to enlarge)

Doh! Cryptic Message When Try to Create First Checklist

If you tried to create your first Checklist from the "click here" message in the Checklists summary section, you may have been rudely greeted by an error page like this:

(Click to enlarge)

Sorry about that! We've fixed this now (thank you for the bug report Paul E).

Miscellaneous Stuff

This week's miscellaneous items in the upgrade include:

  • Backdating of allowance, interest, and auto debit payments when first creating them (or when editing them prior to first issuance). This can get a little confusing, so I'm not sure I'd recommend it, but it's at least possible now.
  • More top secret security work behind the scenes. We could tell you about it, but we'd have to kill you...
Other stuff we're working on that will be apparent over time:
  • Decision making and design work for our subscription model including support for coupons and gift certificates for "N months free". Not to worry, Charter Families will be automatically credited with a coupon for an "infinite" number of months free. We appreciate your ongoing help.
  • Production hosting planning. Before we open the doors to the general public, we'll be beefing up our site's servers to help insure consistent performance as the number of families increases.


Weekly Upgrade Details: Behind the Design, See It Your Way, Top Secret Stuff

Here's a list of the key items in our weekly upgrade coming this afternoon Monday, October 19th:

Meet the FamZoo Visual Designer: Lea Alcantara

When we first posted about the release of our new UI, we mentioned that the driving talent behind our clean, friendly new look was designer Lea Alcantara. This week, we formalized the giving of credit-where-credit-is-due with a new entry to our Team page in our About section. Here's what it looks like:

How Do I Change the Number of Transactions Displayed on Each Page?

Steve K told us that he would like to see a lot more transactions at a time when reviewing the credit and debit history in an account on the "Transactions" page. Moving 10 at a time though a large number of transactions is just too darn tedious (thanks for the feedback Steve). On the flip side, when demo'ing FamZoo on my tiny laptop, I needed to display fewer transactions on each page so that our pagination controls would be clearly visible without having to scoll down in my browser.

So, to address both ends of the spectrum, we have added a slider control in the left hand sidebar beneath the ACTIONS section that lets you change the number of transactions displayed at a time. You can pick any value between 5 and 100 by dragging the little arrow indicator with your mouse. We remember the last setting you pick, so it will stay that way the next time you sign in. To see what it looks like, check out the lower left corner of this screenshot:

Keeping Your Family's Info Private

We did some more behind-the-scenes testing work to verify that nobody but members of your own family can see your FamZoo web pages. This involves nerdy stuff like making sure we prevent URL hacking by malicious geeks out there. Yeah, not that exciting, but really, really important. You can hit the snooze button now...

Miscellaneous Stuff

A couple of other little items:

  • Kids without an email address can now send us bug reports and feedback using the CONTACT US link at the top of the page. Yes, kids opinions matter too! We'll respond to the email address of the registering parent of the child's family.
  • You can now unset a family member's email address by setting it to a blank value (caveat: the registering parent must maintain a valid email address). See the SETTINGS link on the "Family" tab to edit member settings like email address, member name, password, etc.

As always, feel free to contact us with your feedback, suggestions, bug reports and what-not any time via our Contact Us page.


FamZoo Upgrade Details for Monday, October 12

We just performed a minor upgrade on FamZoo today which includes a few bug fixes, some changes based on Charter Family feedback (thank you and keep it coming!), and a little behind-the-curtain stuff that only engineers could love and appreciate.

We plan to do this weekly leading up to our public debut.

Here are some of the details of the changes:

A Little More "Pop" on The Overview Page

The original colors on the Overview page made the section titles difficult to read when not hovering over them with the mouse and gave the whole page a bit of a "washed out" look (thanks for the feedback Selina).

Here's what it looked like before:

And, here's what it looks like now:

Where Do I Sign Out? How Do I Contact FamZoo?

Several members remarked about not being able to find the Sign Out link. We've put it in the obvious place now (the upper right corner of the page), so you don't have to go hunting for it. We also added a Contact Us link right next to it and made some minor labeling changes in the upper navigation links for clarity.

Here's what it looks like:

What's With the Tab Labels?

Our tab labels would get messed up every once in a while - like this:

Sorry, we fixed that.

A Few More Words of Wisdom

We added a few more classic mottos to our gallery from the likes of Mark Twain, Thomas Jefferson, and Ben Franklin.

Note: We'll add some more avatars in the next week or so (thanks for the detailed suggestions there Steve).

How Do I Get At My Family Mottos?

We suggested you add some family mottos from the Family tab in one of our recent emails, but there aren't many clues in the UI about how to do that (thanks for the feedback Selina). We added an entry in our "How Do I...?" popup for that:

Other Stuff

Some other little stuff:

  • Changed terminology when editing/deleting recurring checklist items to use "future" instead of "later" (thanks for the feedback Steve)
  • Fixed a 1 pixel alignment problem with the rightmost tab that was really bugging us
  • Fixed some alignment issues with how checklist item details are displayed
  • Reimplemented the upper logo and top margin graphic to make things look better when images load up slowly. Similar fix for avatars in the right sidebar.
  • Did some behind-the-curtain work to further automate the deployment of our upgrades

Keep Those Suggestions Coming

Thanks for all your suggestions so far. We'll keep inserting them into our development queue and work them into the product as soon as we can.


Big Day for FamZoo

OK, it's been a really, really long time since I've posted a progress report on FamZoo. In fact, the last update was over two years ago (yikes!) when Chris joined the effort.

For that entire time, Chris and I have been in heads-down mode cranking out the the new UI for the product and integrating feedback from our 80+ Charter Family members (thank you all). And, yes, I know that violates all of the conventional Internet wisdom on releasing whatever you've got as soon as you can to the broadest possible audience. Ooopsie.

Well, that's all water under the bridge.

Today (Monday), we released the new UI to our Charter Families.

Thanks to the wonderfully clean design work of Lea Alcantara and the engaging illustrations of Henry Payne, the new face of FamZoo really shines.

You can see screen shots here.

What's next? We're going to let the Charter Families give it a workout, add some revenue related capabilities (umm, yes, you read that correctly), and finally release it to the general public.

Can't wait.