Auction Management – Better in Every Way

For clients, and others following AuctionAnything.com or subscribed to our Newsletter, you may have noticed after seeing our recent posts that the administrative portion of the auction system is undergoing a major overhaul. Since there’s much more on the horizon, now’s a good time to take a moment and share the strategy behind our decision making.

The Administration Console (aka admin console, auction admin or just admin) is an integral part of AuctionAnything.com’s online auction software package. As a fully hosted, online auction provider, we enable clients the ability to manage the auction process via a branded website while we focus on the hosting, development and technical support aspects of the solution. Therefore, the functionality and efficiency of the admin console is critical to our client’s success and always a top priority for our development team.

From the beginning, AuctionAnything.com has integrated administrative tasks into the auction website itself. Generating reports, entering items and just about every other undertaking was performed right on the same site the customers use. However, over time, limitations arose which prompted us to pursue a better, more useful approach. So, why exactly have we created a separate portion of the website strictly for administrators and what are the associated benefits? Well, we’re glad you asked.

Implement Better Design

A distinct admin console enabled us to enhance the design and layout specifically for the administrator without worrying about how our clients setup their auction website. This allowed us to start with a “clean slate” and helped us to make substantial improvements to the underlying code which aided usability and performance. There’s a bit more to it (i.e. single page applications), but we won’t bore you with the technical details :-)

Modals

Utilize More Space

In conjunction with the new design, we now have more usable space and can utilize the full width of the browser window. This is critical since there is often a significant amount of information to manage and display. Having a separate management section allows us to leverage a full width layout even if the client wishes to restrict the width of the auction website. In addition, we can reduce scrolling since the header/logo portion of the web site isn’t present on the admin side.

Introduce Centers

“Centers” are the core components of the Admin Management Console. They divide the content, and associated functions, into intuitive groupings. For example, to perform tasks related to auction listings (e.g. create, search, bulk upload, manage, report on etc.), access them within the Auction Center. Every Center has its own button/icon prominently located at the top of each page in a fixed header for full-time, easy access.

Centers

Integrate Tabbed Content

With the introduction of Centers, our goal was to also bring consistency to the user experience. To do so, we added tab-based navigation within each Center. Most Centers include Home, Views, Totals, Search and Reports tabs. By introducing constants into the user interface, we simplified the underlying structure of system and also made it more intuitive.

Tabs

Add Themes

The added themes are more than just color schemes. They include useful controls and widgets such as date pickers, modal windows, auto-suggest menus, tabs and more. They also help lend consistency, continuity and visual appeal to the layout and navigation. This culminates in a more engaging and enjoyable user experience.

Themes

Remember Actions

Centers and tabs inherently enhance the overall navigation. However, it was paramount that recent activity be remembered to cut down on wasted time. Therefore, if the admin returns to one Center from another or the web site, the previously accessed tab will always be delivered by default. In addition, if applicable, the most recent search results will be maintained so the query does NOT need to be re-performed. This technique results in significant time savings and improved usability.

 

It’s Not All or Nothing

Adding a standalone admin console didn’t preclude us from continuing to offer many admin function within the auction website itself. In fact, we haven’t removed any inline functions. There are editing, and even bulk editing, options located right within the auction site. Some management operations can be completely performed within the website. Others tasks have links on the site which will direct the user to the new admin console.

 

What Happens to the Original Admin Menu?

The gray, admin menu at the top of the auction website will remain, and the top level links will now act as a gateway to the respective Center. The sub-menus will primarily stay the same too. However, the links will change and transition to the associated tab within the appropriate Center of the new console. In general, just think of the top level menu items in the original admin menu as Centers, and the submenus as the tabs within those Centers. It’s the same organizational hierarchy, just a little different delivery. To return to the auction website, click the “Website” button with the globe icon.

 

Are the “Old” Admin Features Still Available?

That currently depends on the feature and the related Center. Some, like the Auction Center, offer a new alternative to the still existing options. For example, the Auction Center > Create tab provides a much improved method for listing items individually. However, the original “Auctions > Enter Items > Create a Listing” menu option is still there – for now.

 

What’s Next?

A new Report Center and Member Center are on the way and scheduled to be unveiled in September. We’ll also have a few updates to the Auction and Images Centers and some additional enhancements to the Dashboard.

 

Summary

  • Better Design -> More Functional
  • Utilize Space -> More Efficient
  • Introduce Centers -> More Intuitive
  • Add Themes -> More Engaging
  • Integrate Tabs -> More Consistent
  • Remember Actions -> More Usable

 

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