Knack Blog

The Knack team on web applications, online databases, and beautifully designed products.

 

Knack Retreat: Salt Lake City 2017

09/20/2017 Posted by Danielle

A few weeks ago we had our 4th retreat in Salt Lake City, Utah. We caught up as a team, hashed out ideas in work sessions, and hosted our first “KnackCon” for our customers. Now that we have another successful retreat in the books, we wanted to share some of the highlights with you!

image_0Team Knack! We are getting better at group pictures!

 

ezgif.com-resizeWe also actually took individual pictures!

 

image_2We couldn’t get enough of the sunset views.

 

image_3Or the post sunset views, equally as beautiful.

 

image_4Oh nothing to see here, just giant mountains and rainbows.

 

image_5Retreats are always perfect for big picture strategy sessions. Some of us are paying more attention than others.

 

image_6Success team making things successful on the front lawn.

 

image_7We had such a great time visiting customers in Miami we decided to host our first “KnackCon” at our house with customers from the area. It was invaluable to hear more about how they use Knack and talk through what future updates might bring!

 

image_8Retreats are perfect for the engineering team to go deep on challenging issues. This year’s focus was on database performance. Steve decided to join because we were being loud outside of his bedroom.

 

image_9

image_10Exploring downtown SLC.

 

image_11

image_12It wouldn’t be a Knack retreat without game night! It may have taken us longer to agree on what rules to play by than actually play the game. What does it say when the founders are picked last in playground-style team selections?

 

ezgif.com-video-to-gifThe front lawn was the perfect setting for a somersault race.

 

image_13Somehow Lime-a-rita cheers have now become an official retreat thing.

 

image_14Leaving our mark on Salt Lake City!

Knack + Zapier = A Match Made in Data Heaven

08/17/2017 Posted by Carson

Better Together

Hunched over a laptop painstakingly entering records line by line into a database—we've all been there. When the data you need to run to your business is scattered across a number of different apps—email marketing platforms, CRMs, invoicing tools—getting that info into your database can feel like an uphill battle.

Zapier is an app automation tool that connects Knack to the other apps you use throughout your day. With Zapier, you build “Zaps”—simple automations that don't require any code—that move your data from one app to another automatically. Need to attach a paid invoice to an existing record? No sweat, there's a Zap for that. You can even move data out of your Knack database and share it elsewhere. For example, get a heads up via a Twilio SMS whenever a record is updated.

Need some inspiration to get started? Here's how three companies are automating their database workflows using Knack and Zapier.

Maintain accurate records

Rows and rows of detailed records are only helpful if they're easy to access. Business consulting company Intrabellus, Inc. deals with multiple Knack databases across many different clients. Their clients need to be able to dive into the details without disrupting the layout of the data.

Their simple solution? An automation between Knack and Google Drive.

“I use Zapier to create an extra copy of all Knack records,” says CEO Nichole Carpenter. “This gives my clients reassurance about accessing or moving their files with no extra work needed on my part.”

Grow client relationships

You can have the most powerful tools at your disposal, but they’re useless if your team isn't using them. The data in your CRM is only as helpful as it is current. And without up-to-date information on your prospects and customers, clients can fall through the cracks and relationships suffer.

Startup fundraising advisory Capital Pilot knows this frustration all too well and started looking for new ways to ease this pain.

“I’ve never worked in a place where people actually used the CRM properly,” explains co-founder and COO Matt Johnson. “Automating certain tasks through Zapier and adding reminders and triggers make it so people actually use the CRM.”

Before setting up this automation, Capital Pilot wasn't confident in the funding status of companies logged in their CRM. Was the data current or wildly out of date? A few missing zeros here and there could negatively impact a budding relationship.

Matt fixed this issue by setting up a Zap that updates their CRM of choice, Pipedrive, every time a new form is submitted in Knack. Updating a startup's information in the CRM automatically, rather than relying on the team to remember to log in themselves, improves efficiency and allows them to grow relationships effectively.

“I spend way less time doing data entry, or copying something from one app into another,” adds Matt. “Plus, with simple automations, we avoided spending time and money on software development at a time when we couldn't afford it.”

Make customers happier

It's easy to get tunnel vision on your most important tasks of the day. But letting little things slide can disappoint customers and impact repeat business. Before setting up a few handy automations, repair company PhoneAxiom Express Device Repair found it difficult to keep up with customer notifications.

“In the rush of business, you sometimes forget the basics,” says owner Mark Pauley. “We haven't always been so great at calling customers to notify them that their device is ready for pickup.”

Now, Mark relies on Knack and Zapier to automatically send alerts to customers and has since seen a boost in the quality of his company's customer service. He uses a Knack database to track service requests, including details like the type of phone needing repair, the cost of repair, and payment info. Whenever a device's status changes to “ready for pick up” in Knack, a Zap automatically texts the customer via the messaging app, DialMyCalls. The result? Happier customers and no more forgotten messages.

Setting up your Zapier integration

To use Knack with Zapier, you’ll first need to connect your Knack account. You’ll get a pop-up prompting you to sign in to your Knack account. This lets Zapier link your Knack account to the other apps you choose.

Zapier

Now you'll see your Knack account connected to Zapier.

Zapier

That’s it! You’re connected and ready to create some Zaps! Get started with one of the pre-built Zap templates for our most popular automations, or build your own workflow from scratch using the “Make a Zap” button.

Your Turn

Want to try out a few automations for yourself? Here are a few ideas to get started, or let us know your own favorite Zaps!

-Kim at Zapier

Click here for a full list of what's possible when you combine Knack and Zapier!

Feature Highlight: Track Changes to Your Data

08/10/2017 Posted by Odalis

There are times when there may be some confusion or misunderstanding as to why something changed in your data. For example:

  • Who updated that customer’s order to “Complete” when the item they purchased is still in your warehouse?
  • What new information was added to that recently updated project?
  • When did that member sign up for an account?

For Knack users with a Pro plan or above, the record history can answer those questions.

Continue reading...

Feature Highlight: Add Clarity to Forms Using Instructions

08/03/2017 Posted by Odalis

Sometimes users misunderstand what information we want and we need to add in a little more direction to avoid hours of confirming the accuracy of information.

For example, we have a multi-step application where we keep getting responses to a few questions that aren’t exactly what we’re looking for. Like our Licenses questions. We’re only looking for licenses that were given at the state or national level. But right now, we have applicants that are including other types of licenses:

So we want to add in some additional instructions to ensure we’re capturing the right information—the first time around.

Continue reading...

Feature Highlight: Reveal Data Faster using Value Links

07/27/2017 Posted by Odalis

Users can get frustrated and use your app less if getting the information they need requires too much jumping around. They want it to be as easy as possible to get what they need and then continue with their day.

For example, we have a Donations page that includes the name of the donor that made the donation:

Our users would love if they could click on the Donor name on the table to find out more about a specific donor. Otherwise, they need to first navigate to the Donors page and then search for the Donor to see their details. It may not seem like a lot of extra steps, but when you have to do that daily, it can be irritating.

So we’re going to use Value Links to make the donor names clickable and send users directly to the donor’s details page.

Continue reading...

Feature Highlight: Add Clarity to Forms Using Layouts and Groups

07/20/2017 Posted by Odalis

Sometimes you need to collect a lot of information on a form. Which means being clear about the information you need and making it easy to input that information. Otherwise, you could get stuck with incomplete information or users can take much longer to fill out your forms.

That’s where layouts and groups can help! For example, we have a multi-step application with a Licenses & Education section. We could make users scroll through all the questions like this:

Or we could use different layouts and groups to better organize the form and require less scrolling, like this:

Which would your users prefer?

Continue reading...

Feature Highlight: Add Clarity to Forms by Customizing Your Submit Button Text

07/13/2017 Posted by Odalis

Sometimes all it takes is a little text to help your users know exactly what to do in your apps. When it comes to forms, changing the submit button text can be the difference between rarely and often getting incomplete information from your users.

For example, we have a multi-step application where we want applicants to fill out multiple parts of a form. Once they complete a step, they’re automatically sent to the next step. But that’s not obvious to all applicants when we use “Submit” at the end of each form part.

So we want to switch out the current “Submit” text on the submit button to something that shows them they’ll be moving on to a new part of the form.

Continue reading...

Feature Highlight: Limit File Size

07/06/2017 Posted by Odalis

You’ve got a form where users can upload files from their computers or smartphones. But you’ve noticed that many of the uploaded files are huge and taking up a lot of storage space. It would be great if you could limit the size of the files users can upload.

For example, we have a job portal where applicants can apply for jobs and upload their resumes. However, we want to prevent them from uploading resume files that take up too much space. So we want to limit them to files that are no bigger than 20MB:

Jenny Martin tried to upload a file that was larger than 20MB. Instead of the form submitting, the user received a message letting them know they need to upload a smaller file.

How to Limit a File’s Size

Here’s how you can prevent users from uploading large files using a Validation Rule:

1. In the Data section of the builder, select the object that contains the file field whose size you want to limit. If the file field doesn’t already exist, create a new one.

2. Click on the gear icon of the file field to open the editor.

3. Go to the Validation Rules section and check the “Add field validation rules” box:

4. For the When part of the rule, select the file field and then the “size is greater than” option. Once that’s selected, you’ll be able to choose the size limit.

For the Message part of the rule, you can enter the custom message you want the user to see.

Your validation rule is now ready and your users will automatically be prompted if they try to upload those larger files.

Feature Highlight: Dependent Dropdowns on Forms

06/29/2017 Posted by Carson

When capturing data using forms, it's frustrating when users input incorrect information. In Knack, there are features available in forms to help prevent erroneous data from being captured. One of these is the Show option for fields on a form.

Let’s say you have a form for adding new Projects. On that form, you have two connection fields: Department and Employee.

You want the list of employees shown on the Employee connection field to be limited to only the employees that are a part of the selected Department.

1

 

The Show option will prevent the Employee field from showing employees in the Sales or Operations departments when the Marketing department is selected.

How to Create Dependent Dropdowns on a Form

Here’s how you can set this up in your own forms using connections and the Show option.

  1. In the Data section of the builder, you’ll need three objects setup:
  • Departments
  • Employees
  • Projects
  1. Next, you’ll need to have the following connections setup between the objects:
  • Many Employees connect to one Department.
  • Each Project connects to one Department.
  • Each Project connects to one Employee.

Note: The Show filter only works with “one-to-many” or “one-to-one” connections.

In this case, Department and Employee will be the connection fields on the form, and they have a one-to-many relationship with the Project object.

2

  1. In the Pages section of the builder, select a page with the Add Project form or create a new Add Project form.
  1. Click on the Add Project form on its page to open the editor.
  1. Add inputs for both the Department and Employee connection fields:

3

  1. Hover over the Employee input field and click the edit “pencil” icon:

4

  1. On the edit input window, you’ll see the Show option and can select to show only Employees connected to this form’s Department:

5

You’re done!

Now when the user selects a different department, the employee records will automatically update to only show the employees connected to the selected department:

Welcome Jessie and Craig!

06/22/2017 Posted by Carson

This month, we’re happy to announce the arrival of not one but TWO new Knacksters! Our team has grown exponentially over the past couple of years, but we’ve never had two additions in such a short span, and we’re very excited to hit the ground running with these folks.

jessie:craig

Jessie and Craig during their interviews (we may have a habit of secretly snagging screenshots from time to time).

Jessie Tully is our newest Customer Success team member. She has a background in product consulting and is something of a data wizard. She works from her new home in Beacon, New York, though during her trial, she was living in Brooklyn less than two blocks away from me! During group interviews, it’s customary for candidates to give a short presentation on a topic of their choice. Jessie’s was about how she makes bread from scratch. We were all drooling during her slideshow and I’m still distraught that I wasn’t able to procure some before she relocated upstate. I haven’t given up hope, though.

Our second new Knackster is Craig Lafferty, a DevOps and systems engineer. Craig works from home in Wisconsin, adding vital representation to the Midwest Knackster contingent. Craig has a passion for maker spaces and democratizing more of the tools and knowledge to build things. His background is in corporate America, but we won’t hold that against him — it made him realize how much he missed the speed and agility of working with a small company.

We want to extend the warmest possible welcome to Jessie and Craig! We can’t wait to see what they bring to Knack. We know their contributions will make our product and our team even stronger, and if they also include homemade bread, that would be okay, too.