How we took Zoho CRM's UI from "The Worst" to "S-U-P-E-R-B!"

In Quick – out quick, nobody gets hurt” – That captures what we set out to do with our new CRM. Thanks, Gary, for noticing it.

But we must admit that was not always the case. Our old UI was pretty bad. Why? And most importantly – why and how did we fix it?

Well, traditionally we focused on the MANAGEMENT side of Sales. We were making CRM Administrators and VPs of Sales happy.  Their goal is to automate the entire sales process and also get insight into their sales funnel! With our features around Customization, Role Based Security, Workflow Management, Web Forms, Reports and Dashboards and so on, that was very easy to do.

For example, this is the kind of feedback we were getting from THAT audience.

 @sarahschaeff: Loving the flexibility & functionality in @zohocrm
So we were making sales execs and CRM admins happy. But what about the daily users?
The WORST UI! That’s what Meaghan said. We needed to hear that. Thanks again, Meaghan. We took that to heart.

By talking with our users, sales & marketing folks – the people who cannot live without a CRM system on a day-to-day basis – we learned what should have been obvious since the beginning:

they want to sell more and spend very little time inside their CRM. To be more productive is all they wanted. Consider your typical sales rep. Their focus is to qualify more leads, close more deals and meet the monthly sales targets. They don’t like spending time inside the CRM system and updating status.

So then we asked ourselves questions like:

– How do Sales people behave inside a CRM system?
– What do they expect a CRM system to offer?

– What are their CRM usage patterns?

And then we understood. We needed to provide a balance between Automation and Productivity. Our feature set was good enough to automate any business, but we had to re-design the user interface of Zoho CRM for easier navigation and data access. It should be a CRM system that helps Sales Reps to focus more on managing their customer relationships and less on CRMing.

After 9 months of iteration and iteration, the outcome of our efforts is almost ready:   

So we were, understandably so, elated when we saw Gary’s tweet. We think we’re on the right track.

Here are some of the highlights of the new design:

An new, organized setup.
The Setup page is better organized with all links grouped under relevant headings. It’s easier to find what you are looking for and there’s no more scrolling.

The Business Card View. Goodbye Scrolling!
When clicking a contact, you’ll find the basic information at the top of the page. So, if you have a call with a contact, you do not have to hunt for details like the phone number or the account name. It’s right where you can see it.

Faster access to customer conversations
Right below the Business Card view is the Notes section – which you can get to quickly during a call. And we made it easier for sales reps to enter notes. And from our very own, internal experience, usage of notes inside CRM sky-rocketed.

Those are just three examples of the many changes we made.

The public launch of the New Zoho CRM is not very far away. Meanwhile, you can start working on the new CRM, right now. We’re still fixing some details – so please let us know your feedback. Please take into account that you’ll be accessing your live DATA but with a different UI. Any changes that you make will be reflected on your “other” account – it’s just the same data, just looking at it through a different – and hopefully better – window.

Check out our new CRM today. Head over to

Stay tuned for more!


49 Replies to How we took Zoho CRM's UI from "The Worst" to "S-U-P-E-R-B!"

  1. Hi there would you mind letting me know which hosting company you're utilizing? I've loaded your blog in 3 different web browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot faster then most. Can you suggest a good internet hosting provider at a honest price? Thank you, I appreciate it!

  2. To tarasbaca, I have a Magic Track Pad and use Natural Scrolling, which definitely makes scrolling much quicker than using a mouse -- I love that. But I strongly disagree with you about finding information easier. Fast "Natural Scrolling" is still more time-consuming than being able to look at a screen instantly and see what I need (old version). Scrolling also means the screen is moving as you try to find what you need, which wears the eyes out quicker, having to deal with a moving screen.

  3. Oh dear, oh dear.Not impressed at all. We have discussed zoho at length. At a time when we are starting to employ new staff I fear we have outgrown this system. We use it simply so we can share contact info across pc's in different offices but this is now not worth us investing in it as we move forward. I find trying to track sales and leads an absolute bind. It just isn't easy enough. I agree with other comments about constant changes and more effort being applied to multiple systems than concentrating on the basics. Bye bye zoho.

  4. Where is my left side bar with search, recents and especially the CALENDAR!!! Are you guys nuts?Almost ALL new computers and monitors are 16:9 aspect ratio; I'm fortunate to have a 24" - what do I want with more white space - I've got like an inch between columns now - who needs that.I'll repeat - GIVE ME BACK MY LEFT SIDE SEARCH/RECENTS/CALENDAR BAR. And, since there used to be half the screen below the calendar, allow me to expand my recents to 10 or even 20!

  5. To devanganasharma, fbadmin, lhsprincipal and others complaining about too much of "white space". My area of focus is web usability and user experience design and I must say that Zoho made a big step towards the good design. Contrary to what you are saying, the screen density is much better now. I guarantee that even with scrolling, users can find information faster as it is better layed out and your eyes naturally need that white space that separates pieces of content.My advice to you would be to get the good mouse and I don't mean it in an offensive way, really, get the good mouse. I use MagicMouse or NaturalScrolling on Mac a scrolling is not an issue anymore.

  6. I think the new version is great but would love for the alphabet list to remain at the top and not moved to the bottom. now I have to scroll to the bottom of the page almost everytime. That is going to get annoying real quick.

  7. I DON'T LIKE IT ONE BIT! I set up Zoho CRM's for companies and use various logo's. The beige choice, sucks with logos who have white around them. Looks bad, hard to manouver around. Paying customers should be able to choose whether or not they want the change. The drop downs are dreadful. WAY TOO MUCH SCROLLING! I'm sure some people like it, but it seems like the majority doesn't. Change is a good thing, but if it's not broken, don't fix it! There are more critical changes (fixes) needed. I agree with so many people's comments above!

  8. where is the help button? The old version had on at the top. This is particularly helpful for new users, saves them calling me !

  9. People have been complaining for months that you can't view that much information above the fold on the new UI.. This is crucial to productivity. Please do not make us switch..

  10. One more thing -- someone talked about "India colors" -- yet the color breakups on the old UI make it easy to find the section I need. The new UI is very dull on the page and it makes it harder to quickly scan to find what I need. All that white space between every line only makes it worse.

  11. The new interface is horrible. On the old UI, I could easily see everything I need. On the new one, I have to click and scroll to see everything I need. It wastes time!! In the "Hide Details" part is what our team uses the most, so every time we go to a Contact, we have to click that...didn't have to in the old UI. Then there's the dreadful Notes. In the old UI, you only had the title, so it was easy to quickly look through the notes to see which one you need to check, then click on it for full information. In the new UI, the notes are all there in full form, so we have to scroll, scroll, scroll down through all of them, and it's hard to read to see which note we need. Terrible, terrible!! And I echo what others say -- there's way too much white space in the new UI -- I need information, not white space! All that white space means more scrolling. Please do not force us to use this dreadful UI. Either fix these atrocities or allow the old one to be continued to be used.

  12. @Doug above - you are spot on!!!I can't believe, no one understands this - monthly forecast reporting is THE most critical item!I never had a problem with the old UI. In fact UI enhancement would be last on a list that would have 1: Multiple month over month reporting. 2: The campaign functionality is (still) very broken. 3: The Products area in general is also very broken. 4: Better QuickBooks integration. 5: Better Outlook integration. 6: Anything else. 7: Better UI.How much a user extra per user would I need to pay to get some of these items fixed?

  13. I read through a lot of these comments. I have used a number of CRM's for different businesses. Most recently I set up a Sugar CRM on demand solution for around 30 people. Sage, Goldmine, Microsoft, Highrise, etc.. used them all.I have to say, I am really in love with this Zoho CRM. It's compact, functional, and easy of use gets an A. I still have more digging in to do but so far I am sold. New interface is nice, i checked out the old one and its terrible. Definitely keep this one.Very similar functionality to Sugar but so much easier to use, customize. Every gripe I have with Sugar is addressed with Zoho. Zoho is lightning fast in comparison to most CRMSSuggestions: Easier Gmail Ingration. Would love to be able to zap contacts to Zoho directly from Gmail.Droid App would be great

  14. Please pls we need zoho CRM for iPAD and this the future for you..... In our co. Most of our employees have iPad.
    I love zoho crm

  15. You guys rock - love the new look and your open willingness to listen to your users. there are a few niggly things -
    1) BRING BACK THE RECENT ITEMS LIST. This has been mentioned a few times above - its a big issue not having it.
    2) When inside a contact, lead or company details page, the fonts size in the fields is to big and the height distance between the fields is too large.... this mean you have to do a whole lot of scrolling to get to the bottom of these pages.
    I'm sure there are a few other problems you are working on - that's why it's in beta mode!
    Looks like the end result will be excellent

  16. The new UI looks like you guys copied features from Vtiger - which I don't want. I use recent items as a part of my workflow and use the calendar constantly on the main pages. The right side "quick actions" is a waste of space. I have turned on about 7 different companies to ZOHO and do not think the new UI is a improvement at all. Please DO NOT take away the old UI...

  17. There is nothing wrong with the present one , please keep the option to have the present one. Im too busy to learn how to use a new one.

  18. I think the new layout is cleaner. I like the business card idea in principle, but normally have to click for more information on the client. Can the business card be made customizable so that I can add a couple more fields and thereby make it unnecessary to usually have to click the Show Details link?

  19. Well, both the old & new version is better than Outlook but I still wish I could 'sync' contacts, calendar & tasks directly to my Blackberry without going thru Outlook.

  20. You're CRAZY!! That layout is 99.9999999% BLANK. I haven't got time to grab a mouse and scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, to find what I need to see on screen in a phone call! PACK IT UP! Make it at least variable so we don't TRIPLE-SPACE! It's *DATA* we need, not a pretty layout. Pleeeeeeeeze.

  21. I want a crm that doesn't take me away from Google. I really want something that works ALONGSIDE Google like Rapportive (a fantastic service). It might connect the various Google silo's in a lightweight almost background manner. Rapportive on steroids that exists in contacts, calendar, documents, mapping, etc - not just the mail client.Google evolves so quickly, and it's features improve/change so much that leaving it is a bad idea. I don't want to lose the "language" I've learned and become stuck in a program that is bouncing along behind trying to hang on.Also, Google becomes more and more an understood UI, so getting new people up to speed on an overlay type system ends up being very easy.

  22. Love the new interface. When using the Accounts tab, is it possible to also get the alphabetical choices at the top of the account list as well as at the bottom?

  23. I never had a problem with the old UI. In fact UI enhancement would be last on a list that would have 1: Multiple month over month reporting. 2: The campaign functionality is (still) very broken. 3: The Products area in general is also very broken. 4: Better QuickBooks integration. 5: Better Outlook integration. 6: Anything else. 7: Better UI.How much a user extra per user would I need to pay to get some of these items fixed?

  24. Hi guys,first, great post - well done. am I missing something, or are you ever going to 'linkin' with linkedin? i mean if I've a linkin in contact I'd like to bring in to my crm cycle in that ever going to happen?karl

  25. I do NOT think the new interface is an improvement. You cleaned it up, but in the process you scrubbed away the useful information. My sales reps now have to click over and over again, hundreds of extra clicks daily if not thousands, to see the same information. You know, less is NOT more when it comes to CRM... the whole point is to put all of the right information on the screen so that when a salesperson is talking on the phone with the potential client, they have more meaningful conversations.Now, I AGREE removing the india flavored color scheme (lots of experience working with India based teams, and they have different color schemes from US audiences) is better, but please don't remove the information from the screen.Extra white space is NOT better... it's space that could be better filled with useful information.With that said, I'm not going anywhere. We switched from Oracle and got equal product for much less cost. But look... Oracle and Salesforce built their product to look the way it does for a reason... think three times, not twice, before making your product different.My take on it is that it looks less feature filled, and therefore worth less money, when I look at it than before.

  26. You guys are doing a great job. We looked at Salesforce and SugarCRM, and Zoho is definitely competitive with these products and at a better price. We use Google Apps for email and docs, so the native integration between the two is a huge advantage for us. Yes, Zoho CRM has a lot of room to improve, and they are working on it constantly (we have had several good conversations with their development team - thanks guys!), and Zoho CRM continues to be the best CRM choice for our small business.

  27. I think you've got a real winner here! the old zoho was so-so but your new interface has gotten us to take another look and made adoption far easier. very slick!

  28. I don't like it in the notes now. I only see a little bit of the note when I want to edit it and I have to scroll down, down down. Before, I saw the whole note and it made editing much easier.

  29. Recent Items is very very useful and has gone... unless someone can correct me how to add it to the dashboard. " rel="nofollow"> has one redeeming feature when compared to Zoho - chatter.Please Zoho, create a feed feature across all your products. It would be fantastic. You could then have a snapshot/dashboard panel to give you a view across your entire organisation in all areas with filters.Actually you could have a single mashup as default. Subscribe feature to each module you want to monitor the feed.
    Another view that filters into defined categories with (number) unread feeds eg. invoices(8)

  30. The new UI is clean clear and easier to navigate. Looks more like a serious product and layout works for us. The one click quick actions is a great idea and makes using the new UI faster.Thanks, keep updating and enhancing this product.
    Well doneA.

  31. Humans hate change, so I'm not surprised at some of the less positive comments. I was somewhat flabbergasted to hear someone complaining bitterly about how the free Zoho doesn't compare to the expensive " rel="nofollow"> - so go buy that one! I am grateful to have the basics of a contact manager at no cost. I use none of the bells and whistle. I was at a corporate that used " rel="nofollow"> globally and it was setup for the corporation not for users and it was literally impossible to use. So I hardly used it. In contrast I have well over 3,000 contacts in Zoho already and I use it constantly, albeit in simplistic ways. Unlike Kelly I found Zoho instantly usable, though doing some mild customisation took a bit more effort and experimentation. I;m not sure about the new look and feel and I can't use it at the office anyway as we have IE here. Where I work now Lotus Notes is our CRM and it's truly dreadful from a user perspective. I was alone in using Zoho but now I am sharing it with one colleague and others are watching. I find it easy and instinctive and I do file call reports, attach documents, make notes etc. What would be brilliant is a direct link to Linkedin so that I could add a contact more easily. I have also struggled to work out how to get an Account view that shows me the list of contacts including their titles. Currently the default view does not include titles and I haven't figured out how to change it. The business card view is fine but that's one at a time. But fellas, for a free product you're doing fine so far.

  32. I'm a new user and nothing about this is program is intuitive. I don't want someone to train me, nor do I want to purchase a book to be able to use this program. A good program should have a new user feeling confident about roaming around and eventually getting the information they need. I seem to get lost in other apps that want to charge more once you sign on for FREE.

  33. All I can say about Zoho is that you get what you pay for. I am consistently disappointed with the lack of functionality that is considered very very basic in more functional CRMs such as SalesForce.Here's a helpful hint, wait until you can create a worthwhile CRM before trying to accomplish all of these other sideline functionalities such as Document Sharing or Chat instead of creating a wide range of sub-standard products.Anytime I request support it takes at least 2 days to receive a response and more than 80% of the time the response I get isn't even accurate.Bottom line, Zoho is TERRIBLE TERRIBLE TERRIBLE and I plan on moving away from this shoddy system as soon as I possibly can.

  34. like the new style except for the Search and More text is next to impossible to see. Have sent support screen shots of issue with no response yet

  35. I've been using the new interface for a couple of months now, and I've loved the improvements. The back end is much, much easier to use, and you can switch between modules with a single mouse click rather than having to go over to the menu. Having the ability to add activites from the top of the contact screen is just great. I'm a fan, so keep up the good work.

  36. I designed my layout in the old version to have certain information on the right hand side of the screen because I use another program opened at the same time. Now with all that white space on the right I can't have both programs up at the same time. Otherwise I like the look but the layout is not going to work for me. Please allow page layout changes. Thanks Jason McVay ADVANCED Solution Provider.

  37. No - I do not like it... less scrolling maybe, but more clicking.... we've lost things like 'recent items' allowing us to head back to places we've just been to...Then there that's MASSIVE chunk of white real estate right there in the middle doing nothing... when I have to scroll down to get to Invoices.I still can't sort my related lists by default, so I still have to click a coloumn heading, a complete must have.In fairness I gave the new UI Zoho a thorough testing over 1 full week, determinded to use it as it is designed to be. I had to switch back.CRM is about FUNCTION not design... less scrolling is always NICE - but CLICKS ARE MUST WORST.There's a way to go here.

  38. The new UI looks great. Would love to see a mobile app that accompanies this slender, sleek, and simplistic workflow without the overhead of a premium to use. This would extend practicality, ease of use, and overall user satisfaction. Keep up the good work. I look forward to what Zoho comes up with next.

  39. Zohonians, I love the new UI. I do.But unless you guys let me work on translating it correctly to Portuguese (Brazil), there is little I can do to use it. The classic look was already terrible in terms of translations, but the new UI is plagued by text in English.You have a crowdsourcing translation model going for sheets.Why can't you do the same for Zoho?You have other users ( complaining about translation to other languages...Brazil is a big potential market for a cost-conscious offering like Zoho. Let the people that want to use your tool contribute, please.

  40. We absolutely love the new UI! However right now only our admins can use the beautiful GUI that you guys have made. When can we roll this out to the rest of our team and the sales force that REALLY needs it?

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