What should happen to the product type column on the admin Products screen?

During the last WooCommerce developer chat we had a productive discussion about the usefulness of the product type icons on the admin Products screen. The topic was originally brought up in this GitHub issue and people seem to have strong feelings about it.

With the current design of the icons it is difficult to tell what type of product each icon represents, and one solution to this would be to improve the icons.

Another possible solution is to remove the column entirely. Removing the column would reduce the clutter on the screen and provide more space for other columns that are more useful.

Feedback from some store owners was that they have this column hidden when managing their stores because the product type of a product does not affect their workflow at all. When they do need to find products of a specific type it is easier and quicker to use the “Filter by product type” dropdown.

This sort of decision should be based on data and not anecdotes, so we have created a poll. If this column is part of your workflow, please also post a comment below explaining how it is used. Your answers and comments will help determine what happens to this column!

[polldaddy poll=9949231]

9 responses to “What should happen to the product type column on the admin Products screen?”

  1. Fourth option would be to place some light grey text under the product title which only shows on hover… just thinking out loud 🙂

  2. Guys I have some feedback on the new orders screen. Can I leave it somewhere? I wasn’t aware of this blog until now and will participate in future discussions. However, I find that the redesign of the orders page is mostly good, but there’s quite a few use cases I wish you could improve. Where could I write these points?

    1. Right here is fine. Go for it. 🙂

      1. Alright! I would argue both the customer email and payment method is important information to show right there on the orders overview screen.

        Customer email: Some people have different names on their email address account and store account. People often contact our store via email to ask about orders, without specifying the order number. If Sally Woo with email orchid@gmail.com, and customer name Salander Wolrich contacts us over email asking about her order, we’ll have to ask her for her order number or do a manual search with the email address to check if she has purchased anything. We won’t be able to find her order by visually scanning the recent orders screen. Visually scanning the orders screen has been the easiest way to deal with WooCommerce because it requires the least amount of clicks. I therefore argue the customer email address is a very useful piece of information to show.

        Payment method:
        The payment method is useful to show because it tells us where to look to verify if payment has been received. If we have 5 processing orders and can see how they were paid for without clicking, we can quickly keep our accounting system up to date. If we need to click the eye icon on each order to find out which payment method was used, time is wasted. Again the purpose of this suggestion is to improve visual management of orders while reducing clicks as much as possible.

        Customer Note:
        By the same account, when we receive customer notes we know we need to read over the order carefully as the customer might have added special requests. With the old customer notes icon, we knew the order needed more attention than others, again by visually scanning the recent orders page of WooCommerce. Since the customer notes indicator is gone, we need to manually check orders more often to make sure there are no customer notes needing our attention. This wastes time and requires more clicks.

        I would therefore summarize this feedback with: don’t ruing the visual management capability of the orders screen by hiding important identifier information. Customer email, payment method and customer notes are three identifiers that make order management easier by simply browsing the recent orders list and taking action accordingly. Alternatively, add these options back in as options in the visual display section. Having them optional is totally acceptable, but removing them makes WooCommerce less versatile for different store implementations.

        The mobile orders screen has lost almost all detail. I suggested to mike that order status and date is necessary. However, previously it was possible to click a little arrow and show all the other columns. I use a plugin for shipping tracking details. With the old system, clicking the arrow would expose the shipping tracking plugin column and I could see tracking numbers and help customers. With the new system I can’t see tracking numbers on mobile (nor on preview) and need to go into individual orders or simply use desktop. It would be useful if either plugin developers can add this info to the preview screen, or even better allow the little arrow to exist to expose further columns for an order. I was really digging the old order management because it allowed me to be equally powerful on desktop and mobile, and had lots of details. The new layout is more slick but it is missing the versatility of the old layout where all details can be easily accessed. Having a little arrow to click to expose more detail would be an acceptable compromise, so the slickness can be maintained but heavy details can still be shown if desired without going into the edit screen.

        1. Thanks for the in-depth feedback! I think this echoes a lot of the feedback we’ve received which is that there is less at-a-glance information in the new design. We’ll see what improvements we can make going forward!

          1. aksutah Avatar

            I agree that the email was useful. It also helped in vetting orders. We added custom code to get the customer notes back… we couldn’t wait for even one day to have them back.

            I’d like to see two columns on the order admin page. They would help with vetting orders and speed up processing…

            1) Total # of orders
            2) Total Amount Spent

            These two data points about the customer could even be combined into one column.

  3. The current icons have never been very clear to me personally. Perhaps adding a little color and using more literal symbolism would help make this column more helpful. https://twitter.com/MarkPraschan/status/969237079908601857

  4. I only use one product type in my sites, so I hide the column. But I can see how it would be useful on a site with hundreds of products with multiple product types.

    1. kiwikitchensg Avatar

      Ditto for me, no real value for me but should be an option for others that do use them.

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