Blackbaud CRM™ Page Designer: 10 Things I Love About You!

Whether you're implementing Blackbaud CRM™, or you've been using it for some time, you'll no doubt appreciate the continual need to make it work more efficiently. At the start, you're on a quest to get it right. After you've settled in, you want to build and optimize the users' experience.

With great ideas in mind, one of the most useful tools you'll find is Design Mode functionality. You don't have to have to access the tool yourself, you'll have a system administrator for that. What you need to know is what the tool is capable of, so you can get those ideas put into action.

Page Designer lets you perform front-end configuration, which is a must if you want to improve the look and feel for your end-users.

Here are the 10 Things I Love that might help you on your way:

1. Filters: Love them or hate them, filters are the #1 reason your end-users won't find the data they expect to find. Filters can be collapsed or expanded by default. If you have a filter that continually trips people up, don't hide it under that funnel icon, make it visible by default to avoid any confusion. Alternatively, filters can be hidden altogether if you really don't need them. How many times have you clicked the filters button wondering what options you'd get only to find "sites" which you may not use? Page Designer lets you address that.

2. Sections: As with filters, Sections can be collapsed or expanded. This is an excellent option if you have multiple sections on a page; the Personal tab, for example, has about 10 sections by default, the majority of which are expanded by default, but collapsible. Sections can collapse individually or all at once. Changing the default to collapsed makes the page less intimidating to end-users.

3. Sections can also be hidden very easily. In the Section Properties, set the Visible flag to "False" and it will be hidden until you decide otherwise. Sections can be visible dependent on something else. Did you know that two of the sections on the Personal tab are dependent on the status of the constituent? The "Deceased information" and the "Inactive details" are hidden until the deceased/inactive condition is met. Making other sections visible dependant will help add more white space and make the page feel more user-friendly.

4. The number of items per page can be controlled as well. Perhaps you'd rather click through multiple pages than have users scroll through rows of data. Perhaps your users never think to click the next page, one long list might be better for them. Many pages are set to display 50 items per page by default, but you can change this setting through Design Mode.

5. We've talked about hiding Filters and Sections, you can also hide Tabs and Tasks by setting their visibility to False. And how about hiding fields? Have you ever looked at a field and wished it wasn't there? TIP: This one's not under the Design Mode. Individual fields can be hidden within their Data Form by navigating to Administration > Application > Features > Data Form Search. When the form opens, click on the Field Characteristics tab and change any unwanted fields to "Hidden."

6. Actions, another useful option, can be displayed in a couple of different ways. The buttons in the example below are all actions. They can be located at the top of the datalist, or they can be hidden and only visible when the chevron is clicked to expand the data row.

7. Actions can also be hyperlinks, and in many cases, these make a great alternative to the "Go to" button as they appear a little more streamlined. If you include the System Record ID for the page when you create your own data-lists and then use the column name for the "LinkFieldID", with a Context Type of "Section Field" and ID of the System Record ID, you'll be able to click the blue hyperlink in your data-list to be taken to another record or page.

8. Legends: Do you need something highlighted and brought to everyone's attention? Add a Legend to your page. Enter an expression in the Legend that sets a parameter, perhaps a time limit so that data turns bold or changes color when it becomes overdue.

9. Create new tabs with new data-lists; the My Fundraiser page is a great place to do this to provide more personalized information for your fundraisers. Consider combining existing data lists from elsewhere in the system in one handy, accessible location.

"Interests" would be a good example of how this can be helpful; there are interests scattered throughout the system from Constituent Interests, Funding Interests, and even Volunteer traits and skills could be looked on as interests. Building a new tab and adding these lists to one place makes for much easier system navigation and end-users find it more intuitive.

10. Finally, Grouping and Order. CRM's functional areas contain Task Groups, which include Tasks. You can edit a task in Shell design to choose which task group you want it assigned to. You can create a new Task Groups if you wish, and then you can sequence it so that tasks appear in the order that you want them to.

Next time you're perusing a page, have a think about its layout, perhaps one of the items I've highlighted might make a difference. It's never too late to make CRM more system-friendly for YOUR users.

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