November 2017 – December 2018

Time Tracking

<p>Gusto helps companies manage their payroll, handle employee benefits, and now we’ve just released a brand new feature that lets companies track employee hours. With this feature employers on the Gusto platform have fewer tools and apps to manage their business.</p>

Understanding the problem

Many companies that use Gusto to run payroll have a great number of hourly employees and so after internal research our team discovered that time tracking is a crucial requirement for these companies to easily manage their business. Without time tracking built into Gusto, customers would use a flurry of third party applications and would then need to manually add those hours into Gusto’s web app eventually.

Ideally an employee could easily track their time in the Gusto web app and then their employer could review these hours to make sure they’re correct. After that they’d then need to submit that data so that they could run payroll and pay the employees for the hours they tracked. This would make the lives of employers significantly easier when running payroll and so our job was to make sure that clocking in was as efficient as possible for employees.

Exploration and initial ideas

There were a few issues with this original design, the first being that we knew that a large section of employees would sign into the app and then have to head to the Time Tracking section. We found in testing that taking this action everyday would be incredibly annoying for employees.

After we prototyped these designs and let real companies test our work we found that it was a far too cumbersome to navigate to the Time Tracking section of the app. I shortly realized that for employees with time tracking enabled this feature would be the single most important thing for them to see as soon as they logged into the app. This consequently led to our work redesigning Gusto’s employee dashboard.

Working with prototypes

The clock-in card would allow employees to track their time today, however we also knew there would be a large number of employees that would retroactively add their hours. This led to hundreds of iterations of what we called the “time tracking table”—a component that would show all the previous days in a pay period and the hours that had been tracked. Whole dang essays could be written about this component alone, but here’s one of the prototypes I made in Codepen (you can even click and hover on the demo below):

With the prototype above we could figure out how the animations work as users clicked on a table row to open it and how to delete or add a block of time that’s associated with a particular day.

We also designed this component so that employers or admins could review tracked hours within this same component and catch any errors that might’ve occurred during the time tracking process.

Moving to the design systems team

After the design and development of the table was complete I moved onto the design systems team but provided constant front-end development and design support to the rest of the team. We brainstormed improvements to the direction and worked closely together to iterate on my initial designs.

From this point on I worked with the Time Tracking team to create reusable components such as the Drawer and Toggle which helped other designers and engineers across Gusto build their own features faster.

Here’s the final iteration that released after the ever-so-excellent designer Jordan Townsend started work on the team:

Letting admins click on an employee’s time and immediately see all of their tracked hours in a drawer made the experience feel infinitely faster than the designs I had worked on previously.

A brand new feature

The time tracking feature is the most successful project I’ve worked on whilst at Gusto. We created a ton of reusable components that other teams could use as well as provided a much better experience for hourly customers of our product. Sadly I can’t reveal metrics of our success but it was pretty dang surprising to me as to just how many of our customers jumped on this feature within the first two weeks.