BILLmanager 6 Beta: latest news and recommendations

It has been 2 months since we released BILLmanager 6 Beta. During this time our customers accumulated many questions, and now we want to make our recommendations on how to work with the control panel. Today we will describe the purposes of BILLmanager 6 and differences from the previous generation, advise how to set up the billing system, and tell you about our roadmap.

Purposes of BILLmanager 6

Simplified user interface. The interface of BILLmanager 5 was fully inherited from the 4th generation. It was quite difficult for clients to order services, add funds, and submit support tickets. In BILLmanager 6 we have simplified routine operations greatly.
Easy update. In order to upgrade from BILLmanager 4 to BILLmanager 5 users had to install the billing system on a new server and import clients. Usually, they faced many problems during the update process. Now if you want to switch to BILLmanager 6, you only need to update your panel to version 5.155 and enable the new interface in the “Global settings” form. You don’t need to import user data between servers any more.
Flexible software product. BILLmanager 6, like other products of the 6th generation, has a module-based architecture. A service provider or his user can choose required modules and add them when needed. This makes the billing system more flexible and functional.

New user scenarios

Before we started the development process, we asked our partners about their target audience and who uses BILLmanager Client area. We found out that these are site owners or inexperienced users. They are not good at this area and use their Client area very seldom only to order or renew services, add funds, and contact the customer service. So, first of all we decided to reduce the main user scenarios to a simpler state.
“The basic idea of BILLmanager 6 is to simplify the main scenarios that users will find comfortable and easy to work with”, says Alexey Sorokin, Head of UX department.

Adding funds

If a client often uses his Client area, he knows how to add funds. But if he uses it once in several months, he has to spend much time to find a required button. In BILLmanager 6 we improved this operation.

Before


1. Information about the account balance is difficult to find on the Dashboard.

2. The “Add funds” button is not for visible for users.

3. Difficult payment options, needless fields on the payment form.

After


1. Customers can see their balance at a glance.

2. Simplified form for depositing money: clients can see 6 popular payment methods.

Balance information in BILLmanager 6

Ordering services

Every service provider knows that there are main and supplementary services. There is no need to show all services right away, as it can confuse customers. We don’t think that your client will buy an anti-DDoS protection unless he has a server.

Before


1. Difficult to find a service: the selection field is not visible, no priorities.

2. A confusing order scheme: first you choose an order period, next you choose a service. Even if you need only one service, you cannot buy it without adding into the Cart.

3. After purchase you cannot be sure that you order has been added successfully.

4. Customers had to contact the Support center for assistance.

After


1. Easy to find what you need: priorities for the main services, filters. The provider can group his services into “Recommended”, “Custom configuration”, etc. and combine tariff plans with each other according to his needs.

2. Clients can pay for their service immediately or add it to the Cart.

3. The system informs the client when his order is complete.

4. FAQ on the service order pages.

VPS order page in BILLmanager 6

Sending support tickets

A client always gets nervous when contacting the Support center. It means that it is difficult for him to keep the focus on essential features, and he can make a mistake that he would never make in the normal situation. That’s why it is import to make the Support center more user-friendly

Before


1. The key link to the “Support center” is missing on the Dashboard.

2. Lost context: users cannot ask a question from the page they are currently in. After sending a ticket, the client may not remember the section he went from.

After


1. The “Send a new ticket” button is more visible. Clients can see responses from support staff on the Dashboard.

2. You can contact support team from any section of your client area.

3. On the left side you can see the FAQ configured by the service provider.

Creating a ticket in BILLmanager 6

About branding options

When we improve the UX, we must control the design. Provider settings may affect it. That’s why we configured the default settings for BILLmanager 6 Beta, so its interface looks exactly as we designed it. Users cannot change anything.
They can configure the branding settings that won’t modify the interface structure: block and font size and other interface elements cannot be changed. “Pure” HTML that was used to describe tariff plans was changed into the Markdown syntax.
However, you can change the color scheme. We are planning to launch a service that will help you choose color schemes. Please, contact us if you want to use custom colors. We can develop this option at extra charge.
Branding BILLmanager for Airnode, CloudLite and FirstSSL projects

Testing and enabling the new interface

BILLmanager 6 is available starting from version 5.150. The new interface is set by default for new installations. Those providers who already use BILLmanager, should activate it manually. For more information please refer to this article.
We recommend that you test the new version in a test environment. If everything goes well, you can activate BILLmanager on your production billing system. Your clients will see the link “Switch to new interface” and can test the new Client area. If they don’t like it, they can always switch back to the old interface. We implemented the smooth update procedure so that customers and staff members can easily understand how it works.
In the provider configuration form you can specify the phone numbers that will be displayed at the top of the Client area. The phone numbers may vary depending on your localizations.

Recommendations

Grouping tariff plans

All tariff plans associated with a certain service can be grouped. By default you can group them into “Recommended” and “Custom configuration”. More information can be found under this article.
For every page you can set the sorting order, internal name, and names in different languages. There are two types of pages: a list and constructor. The constructor is now available only for VPS and dedicated servers, and is displayed on the “Custom configuration” page.

Configuring the start Dashboard

You can display the start Dashboard for the clients who log into the Client area for the first time and don’t have services yet.
If the client already has services, the Dashboard will be personalized. Every product type has its weight. 3 first services will get displayed on the start Dashboard. The main Dashboard will use the following sorting: 3 services for type 1, and one service for types 2 and 3. The priority is set within every category and depends on the service status.

Configuring FAQ

You can set questions for every service type. You will need to specify the following obligatory parameters:
  1. the section in which this question will be displayed (VPS, Support center),
  2. the interface module (the section on the left, the bottom of the table),
  3. answer type (a text or an external link).
We recommend that you think it over carefully and give full and complete replies.

Help

Documentation. We released our new documentation that describes BILLmanager 6 settings, its new design, structure, and contents of articles.
Free support. To make the upgrade to BILLmanager 6 easy and comfortable for you, we offer free support of our software product. You can send a support ticket or contact us via the live-chat and social networks. Our specialists will be glad to help you.

Our plans

Now we are working on a prototype of BILLmanager 6 mobile (client side). Very soon our clients will be able to perform basic operation directly from their smartphone: add funds, contact the Customer support center or monitor their services.
Mobile version prototype of BILLmanager 6
Our short-term plans also include:
  1. client verification via email after registration,
  2. auto-payments in the new interface,
  3. advanced options for “Virtual data-center” management.
Next, we will release the stable version of BILLmanager 6 and remove the steps from the Compatibility wizard.