Work inbox is the hub of entire application; this is one central location where each user comes to get work and plan their day. This post discusses patterns to consider while designing a work inbox.

Here is a list of three frequently used methods for work assignment.

  • Tasks assigned to an individual
    • all tasks are visible in the work inbox and the person gets to pick which task they work on first
    • based on priority and skills of the individual system only assigns a single task to an individual
  • Tasks assigned to a team

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Folder & Tags

Outlook and most other email programs provide a great way to sort and categorize work. In similar manner users should have the ability to define their own rules to categorize work. Custom folders and tags are a great example of this capability.

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Search Filters

Search filters provide users the ability to sift through a lot of tasks that might need their attention. Option to narrow results by a date range, process, application, tags, priority and status are most commonly used filters.

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In-Line Decisions

For users that are mostly responsible for review and approvals a great way to expedite their work and reduce number of clicks is to give them in-line decision option.

These in-line decisions can be Approve and Reject buttons available in the Work Inbox, as a link in email or a message on an IM. This way they do not even need to login to the system, but their existing mail box becomes their work inbox.

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Prioritization / Due Date

Users should be able to identify quickly what work needs their immediate attention. This could be because of work’s priority or because it is at risk / overdue. Following methods can be used to show priority and urgency.

  • Highlighting Tasks
  • Blinking Due Date
  • Adding a Flag

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Want to learn more about UX Patterns? Download your copy of “UX Patterns for Enterprise Applications” here.

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