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A User Interface Discussion

MarkG
New Contributor

I am new to the platform.  I'm posting here because I have repeatedly stumbled over the user interface for ShipStation.   I get that different people approach software design and user interfaces in different ways, but after fighting with it this morning, I was seething. So, I decided to post something and see if anyone cares.

 

I'll pick one issue to start with: the "import customers" feature.  This works (allegedly) with comma separated value (.csv) files.... except when it doesn't.  And when it does work, it doesn't work well.  I use a Macintosh running MacOS, and I can use Excel or Numbers (the Apple-branded spreadsheet) on my computer, and neither one can produce a .CSV file that ShipStation import will read - I think it doesn't like the way MacOS handles carriage return / line feed characters.  So, I gave up on that - I now have a single file that contains the names of any customers that I want to hand-enter, and I use a very, very simple text editing program to line up the names and count commas to make sure I'm entering things correctly.  This is vital because, as it turns out, there is apparently only one error message:  

 

"Complete Failure"

 

I kid you not. That's all it says.

 

Even when I take great care to get the new record set up correctly, it almost never works the first time because I've messed something tiny up - today, I forgot to put an end of line at the end of the last record I entered.  I fixed that, and it still failed.  Because I had aligned it beneath a known good record, I looked at the new record and wondered if the "user name" field (which is required but entirely meaningless for a manually entered record) may have been too short - and so I changed it to something longer.  Lo and behold, I went from "Complete Failure"  to "Success".   Finally.  Great....

 

Until I looked at my new customer list and saw that the record had been uploaded twice.  So there are two customer records. I have double-checked my upload file, and that name is only in there once.  The two records do have different user names - so the import attempt using the first user name apparently worked, but when I tried to import that file I got the "Complete Failure" message, and the name didn't show up on the customer list after I had made that attempt, so I'm stumped.  

 

Additionally, it's impossible to remove a user from the customer list.  I've called support and been told that even they can't do it.  I have no clue as to why, because to me, that seems like something that people might want to do.

 

I have no idea whether anyone from ShipStation reads these community discussion boards or cares, but perhaps if other people begin to discuss their views on the product, the user experience might improve for all of us.  

 

As to my particular issue:  

  1. fix the error messages.  Create useful messages that provide information on, for example, what field was missing or incorrectly formatted. There is no excuse (beyond the gratification of someone's sadistic tendencies) for error messages that convey no information.
  2. fix the success message.  It should tell me, for example, how many new records I've imported, and how many existing records were modified.
  3. the system should accept CSV file imports created on a Mac, on a PC, on a linux box, on anything.  I shouldn't have to care if it's a CR/LF or some other delimiter at the end of a line, you've got a bunch of computers, they can and should be figuring out line end characters.  
  4. please, allow me to delete records. As a safety measure, you can keep them - create a tab called "inactive customers" and move things I don't want to see to the "inactive customer" tab, so you didn't really delete them, you just moved them out of my way.  

I'll stop ranting now.  If you've read this far, thank you, and I hope you have better luck with this than I do.

2 REPLIES 2

GoodSpeed
New Contributor

Yes, quite the rant. But I've certainly been there. Regarding your issues list:

1) There is actually a (not good) reason other than sadism for an error to not give more specific information. Error handling takes a lot of time to build and depending on how the import process was programmed, they may have not allotted for line by line error generation and instead of some sort of "all or nothing" type of import. Like I said, not a good reason because it doesn't seem well thought through.

2) Again, this depends on how their import process is setup, but a way to summarize the import should be a fairly easy thing to add.

3) I have PCs so I can't relate to your CSV on Mac woes, but can I ask how you were saving the CSVs? I believe in Numbers you have to save the file and then export it as a CSV using the advanced option for UTF-8 text encoding. Similarly with Excel you would save the file as a CSV UTF-8 file. Maybe that is what you were already doing.

4) It is somewhat strange that you can't delete, but you might consider adding a "Good Record" tag to the customers you want to see and then you can at least filter out all other records without the tag. Cumbersome, but may help a little.

Manager-Erin
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi @MarkG , 

 

Thank you for being a member of our Community and for this feedback.  Apologies for the delayed response here. 

 

I have taken this feedback directly to a member of our product team and I am going to be messaging you shortly so we can gather additional information on this specific error. 

 

Additionally, I want to let you and everyone else know that we are currently working on changing and improving our current product feedback process. Our main channel for product feedback is feedback.shipstation.com, however, we will be migrating this feature into the community within the next few months. We will be sharing more information on this soon, so keep your eyes on our blog for updates.

 

-Erin: Your Friendly ShipStation Community Manager