It is with a tummy-turning mix of excitement and anxiety that I experience the public launch of the new Blinksale. I’ve been a fan and a customer of Blinksale for many years, so when I found myself working for Doublewide Labs, the company that purchased the web app last year from the esteemed Firewheel Design, I was pretty excited. Nay, stoked.
I was also nervous to begin changing what has been a beloved app with a loyal customer base. As a customer, I knew I wouldn’t want some jerk designer coming in and changing things for inconsiderate reasons. So, nerves. And the conscious effort to not be a jerk.
Anyhow, you’re probably here to read all about what’s new. I shall oblige. Hold on to your wigs & keys!
Realigning (not Reinventing) the Wheel
My primary goal in the redesign effort was to change as little as possible, weird as that may seem. That design decision was made easier by the sane choices of the original designers (shout-out). As a result, the layout and location of buttons & links is largely unchanged. The majority of the changes come in the form of stylistic enhancements, but there are a of couple structural improvements worth noting.
The most dramatic change, I think, is the removal of the Blinksale logo from the traditional spot in the top left corner of the screen; this freed up the layout for a better navigation bar and a larger workspace. I think it’s very cool that Blinksale’s owners were okay with moving the logo to the bottom of the pages; to me, that kind of says all that needs to be said about where the company priorities lie. Hint: it’s all about you.
Another subtle design change is the visual separation of an invoice’s History & Comments from the invoice itself. Whereas the comments used to appear embedded inside the same container as the line items & notes, comments and history are now appended below the invoice. It’s a small change, but one that more clearly separates the two groups of information. Each type of history item and comments also now have their own “tag” to make them easier to scan.
Aside from those two things, there has not been any major restructuring of the app. Lots of small things, yes, but those are too numerous to catalog here. You’ll notice more changes when you meet them (and hopefully smile in doing so).
Yes, Blinksale got its face did. Even web apps need to be repainted once in a while to stay relevant, appear competent and keep it sexy.
Still, in the spirit of making as few changes as possible, we’ve maintained a color palette which both matures the visual design of the app and pays homage to the colorful original. While we’ve kept close to those definitive blue/green Blinksale-y colors in the app, the workspace is primarily grayscale. That’s a noticeable change, since the original Blinksale sat inside a container which floated on a minty background. The new workspace removes colorful distractions. ;)
I’d consider the primary distinguishing visual element of the app to be the use of guilloché. Guilloché patterns are (often intricate) interlaced lines which are commonly used on paper money, certificates and a myriad of other documents; the patterns serve as both beautiful decoration and a guard against counterfeiting. The guilloché pattern is used liberally for various elements, sets the tone for the rest of the design and intends to make Blinksale feel more like a refined & valuable financial tool.
The rest of the changes can really be summed up with: typography, whitespace, details. Those are not trivial things, just not necessarily things to talk about at length here. Still, this is where most of the attention was directed and the app feels more cohesive as a result.
Estimates! (Almost, we swear!)
“Add estimating” was — hands-down — the top feature request Blinksale has had over the years. Other invoicing apps have it, and we were way behind in adding it. Our bad. You will soon be able to create estimates, send them out just like invoices and give your soon-to-be clients an online copy where they can comment on and approve them. We are currently beta testing the feature, but here is a sneak peek:
We also took some time to think through how estimates might fit into your workflow, and our “Convert to Invoice” screen allows you to take an estimate and — you guessed it — change it from an estimate to an invoice. The estimate gets archived, and all the relevant data moves into a new invoice. We think it’s pretty slick.
So that’s the requisite summary of what you can expect to find in the new Blinksale. All in all, I’m pleased with how we’ve been able to move Blinksale forward. Most importantly, I hope that all of our customers continue to enjoy using it. I look forward to working with the rest of our team to continue rolling out new features.
Speaking of the team, I’d be remiss to not shine a big spotlight o’ credit on Blinksale’s fearless leader, Brandon Cotter, and our super-amazing developer, Istvan Hoka, whose contributions to this effort have been foundational. Too often, the designer gets too much credit. None of my design-y work would be worth a hill of beans without the insight, vision, deep technical knowledge and code execution that came from my Blinksale compadres. No one can send invoices from a Photoshop file. ;)
With that, we wish you happy Blinksaling! If you’d like to have Estimates added to your account while we beta test the feature, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Estimates beta testing.” If you’re not a Blinksale customer you can sign up for a free 30-day trial to check out the app.