Clio customers rely heavily on email for their workflows. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could start a timer, create tasks, or file emails with attachments to matters directly from their Gmail inbox? This was a skunkworks project, between Clio and the team at gUnify to deliver workflows and designs for the Clio for Gmail Chrome extension. Using Clio’s API as the backbone for the project, the customer would be able to access their Clio data directly within Gmail.
Communicating the flow and details to gUnify’s engineering team was quite challenging. Being in different time zones made it difficult to discuss iterations and constraints during core work hours. Coming from an enviornment where I would develop my own designs, I learned quickly that I needed to be precise when redlining measurements or providing styling and colours. Even when I thought I was being very precise, details were still lost during feedback sessions. Sometimes a quick call is much easier than waiting for an email reply.
We wanted to make the process frictionless for customers by providing the information at their fingertips. Due to our customer focused design requests, the team faced many performance challenges to link Clio matters to Gmail file attachments. A tradeoff needed to be made. We sacrificed usability to save performance by providing a link to load their recent matters rather than automatically loading the information. We also couldn’t detect attachments easily in the emails, so they needed to be downloaded in the background before they they could be forwarded to Clio. We provided customers options to select which files they wanted before filing them to the Clio matter.
The team also faced challenges determining how the Gmail timer would sync with Clio time entries. For example, if the timer was stopped in Gmail, could it be resumed like how it is in Clio? To avoid unnecessary technical complexity, we decided that the best solution for the customer would be to create new time entries each time the timer was stopped.
In the end, we were able to find balance between performance and usability without sacrificing too much for the customer. The end goal allowed power users to leverage Gmail as their primary workflow source for transferring data into Clio.