Product updates & features

How we're building a world-class user experience in a developer platform

Eric Crane

Posted 7/25/2023

At Flatfile, our mission has always been to eliminate manual data work. We built the Flatfile Data Exchange Platform to solve complex data exchange challenges, but we've discovered that providing capabilities is only half the battle. The other half is providing an exceptional user experience. We know that a developer platform should be not only powerful but also user-friendly, intuitive, and, yes, delightful to use.

Developer platforms aren't typically associated with great user experiences. They're often seen as tools for the technical elite, filled with jargon and complex workflows that are incomprehensible to the average user. At Flatfile, we know that capabilities for developers are necessary but not sufficient.

Our developer tools help customers wrangle disparate data formats, standardize fields, and onboard data effortlessly. The potency of these tools is evident in how our customers can easily handle even the most complex data tasks.

Empowering end users to solve data exchange challenges

At Flatfile, we're providing a solution for developers and every end-user who interacts with the data. This includes teachers, accountants, lawyers, plumbers, truck drivers, social workers, and more, all interacting with the Flatfile Data Exchange Platform. The user experience has far-reaching implications.

End-users shouldn't have to wrestle with the complexity of the technology underlying the product. Instead, they should be able to focus on achieving their goal with the product. With this principle in mind, we designed the front-end components of our platform to be intuitive to non-experts. Further, though our customers can build their own UX on top of the Flatfile Platform, we generally see them leverage our customizable elements tested by hundreds of thousands of users.

Why does the end user matter so much?

In a world where "AI" is capitalized more than it is not, you may wonder why it is so important to accommodate a non-technical end-user. The answer lies in the problem we solve: we are shepherding those users' real data. Last month's ACH transactions, a historical record of every patient seen, and full employee rosters are just three of hundreds of types of datasets exchanged in the data transactions we broker.

As a result, the type of collaboration the end-user has with Flatfile must be "zero-trust." We want them to check our work and engage in the process. Not only does this build trust, but it helps them lend their subject-matter expertise, which is lacking in most AI-driven solutions.

This allows us to provide guidance for a process that would otherwise be untouchable and gather insight on how we could perform data tasks better on their behalf. It's a positive feedback loop in which the end customer has a better experience, and we learn how to make it better for them -- and all others like them -- as we go.

UI examples

For example, you can attach errors, warnings, or comments (info) to specific records. These messages provide visual status and contextual information or alerts to users interacting with the record, helping them understand any required issues or actions.

Adding an error using FlatfileRecord.addError()

Adding a warning using FlatfileRecord.addWarning() 

Adding info using FlatfileRecord.addInfo()

The specific styling of each of these statuses is also fully customizable using Flatfile's theme capabilities.

Flatfile also makes it easy for end users to find and optionally update data with built-in options for "search," "find and replace," and "Replace empty values," making it easy to find what you're looking for.

Building a world-class user experience in a developer platform is a tough but rewarding challenge. We believe that by prioritizing user experience alongside powerful capabilities, we can deliver products that solve complex data challenges and delight our users.

Ultimately, the best measure of success for a developer tool is not the number of features it has but the success of the customers who use it. And by focusing on user experience, we're confident we can continue to drive customer success at Flatfile.

The Flatfile Data Exchange Platform

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