What’s New in Dynamics CRM 2013 – Navigation and User Interface

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The user interface (UI) has been significantly updated in Dynamics CRM 2013.  Many of the changes are designed to simplify the user experience and reduce the number of clicks required to interact with the system.  Many of the changes also are designed to eliminate pop up windows for a “flatter” user experience.  This flatter UI also forms the foundation for moving away from a PC / Windows / Internet Explorer-centric application to a system that can be used across many devices, operating systems, and browsers.  User interface changes always take time and effort to adjust to, but I think the benefits of simplified interaction and support for a broader array of devices (desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone) outweigh the effort required.

As part of this user interface redesign, the left side navigation has been removed from the web client and replaced with a tile based navigation bar at the top of the page that collapses when not in use (to save space).  When selecting a record from the navigation bar, the record is loaded in the existing page rather than loading in a new window or tab.  The navigation bar then shows a “breadcrumb” style path that displays the navigation hierarchy to where you are, and allows you to quickly navigate back up the chain.  The Back and Forward buttons in the browser can then be used to navigate the history of pages viewed in CRM.  Most recently used (MRU) records for each record type are also quickly available from the navigation bar.

The ribbons have also been replaced with easier to navigate command bars.  The most used actions can be performed by clicking a button while all remaining actions can be accessed from the More Actions menu.  When viewing a record page, related records (formerly available in the left hand navigation of the record window) can be viewed by clicking the down arrow next to the record name in the navigation bar.  Changes made to existing records are automatically saved every 30 seconds and also when the user navigates away from the record page, while new records are saved manually by clicking the save button.  Also form elements now morph and re-organize themselves automatically as window size changes to adapt to different size screens on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.  The navigation bar elements automatically collapse, data fields automatically become narrower, and parallel data columns automatically stack on top of each other as the window width becomes smaller.

In keeping with the new "flatter" interface, look-ups on form fields can now be performed inline without popping up the look-up dialog window.  Simply type some or all of the look-up value and then click (or tap) the look-up icon to see matching results inline.  If the record you are looking for does not exist, you can also create a new record with the new Quick Create form which also appears inline, so you don’t have to pop a new window or leave the record you are working on.  Dialog boxes (like delete confirmations and javascript alerts) are now displayed inline as well in the web client rather than in a separate pop up window.  New controls are available for managing composite information.  Clicking on the Full Name or Address field will now display an inline fly out that allows entry of the individual fields (First Name, Middle Name, Last Name or Street 1, Street 2, Street 3, City, State / Province, etc.)  When composite data entry is completed, the fly out disappears and the data is aggregated and displayed in the composite field.  Dynamics CRM 2013 also enhances the new Social Pane which displays related Posts, Activities, and Notes in the same area on the record form.  Users can create new related Posts, Tasks, Phone Calls, Notes, and Attachments inline without leaving the parent record.

When upgrading to CRM 2013, you should plan for training and support around the new user interface so your users can quickly make the transition and improve their productivity in the new system.  Also, we recommend analyzing and re-designing your existing forms to take full advantage of the new UI.  If your organization could benefit from the new user interface in Dynamics CRM 2013 and / or would like some assistance with upgrading to the new version, please contact the experts at NexusTek at 303.773.6464 or sales@nexustek.com.

By: Randy Bristol, Director- NexusTek Dynamics Solutions

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