Jira User Best Practices

As organizations continue to adopt digital technology, more and more teams are leveraging Jira to track their work. Here are some do’s and don’ts for Jira users.


Here are some best practices and good habits:

Create Jira issues

Create a Jira issue any time you need to track a task. Jira can handle many millions of issues, so don’t worry about filing too many. Also, you can’t really break anything in Jira, so don’t be afraid to use it! The only thing your administrator can’t undo is deletion of data.

Break up large tasks into smaller ones

If you’re working on something big, create multiple issues to break it up into small, manageable chunks. For example, if the task is to make a cake, break that up into different sub-tasks for ingredient shopping, for mixing and baking the ingredients, and for icing the cake after it’s cooled. Ask your Jira Administrator about issue hierarchy in your application.

Breaking up work is also the way to assign multiple people to similar tasks.

Transition issues as you work

Transition issues forward in the workflow as you work on them in real-time. It’s your responsibility to make sure an issue’s current status mirrors reality.

Keep issue details accurate

Keep all issue details and fields up to date. It’s important to complete as many fields as possible and update them as soon as information changes. It’s OK if additional details become available after an issue is created. Add it to Jira right away so everyone has the best information.

Accurate information helps others find issues and generate reports. When an issue is complete, its information should serve as a legal and historical record of what was done.

Take action on issues assigned to you

If an issue is assigned to you, it means you need to take action! Look at the status to see what to do and look in the comments field for any notes left for you.

Fix incorrect assignments

If an issue is assigned to the wrong person simply change the assignee. Unassigned or incorrectly assigned issues create unnecessary delays.

Record action details

When you’ve completed an issue, add a comment explaining what you did, where or how you did it, and anything else others should know right now or in the future.

In the example, a typo on the company website was reported.

I fixed the typo and then added a comment showing I corrected the spelling of the word “customer”, that the change occurred in the first paragraph on the page, and the page I changed was named “terms.html”. 

Now anyone who needs to verify my change knows exactly what to look for and where.  This is just good record keeping.

Log time

When you’ve completed an issue, log how much time it took to complete.  Get into this good habit, even if your organization doesn’t require it.

Logging work is NOT about how good or fast you are!  It’s about planning, prioritization, allocation of resources, and improving estimation for future similar tasks.

For example, if my estimate is 1 hour and I’ve logged 3 hours so far, this could signal there are other factors making this task take longer than expected. Maybe the code is super complex, maybe I could some help clearing road blocks, or maybe I simply mis-estimated.  In the real world, these things happen all the time!  Jira just gives you a way to show it.

A final thought on time logging:

Do you submit a time card or a report of what you’re working on?  Jira can handle both those things for you.  No need for extra manual work!  Ask your Jira Administrator about progress reporting and time logging in your Jira application.


Now let’s cover a few things not to do:

Delete issues

If you don’t need an issue, it’s smarter to simply close it rather than delete it.  Use the “Resolution” field to indicate no work is needed because it’s invalid, can’t be reproduced, is a duplicate, or won’t be fixed.

Report an issue and walk away

If you create an issue, you should follow it through to completion, be ready to verify the resolution, and be available to answer questions.  If you create an issue and walk away, it might not be addressed any time soon.

Enter sensitive information

Don’t enter sensitive information into Jira or other applications.  This is sometimes referred to as PII (personally identifiable information) or SPI (sensitive personal information).

Sensitive information includes passwords, personal data (social security numbers and mother’s maiden names), health information (like which health insurance plan an employee has) employment information (like citizen status or salary), and any proprietary or confidential personal or company information.

Contact your Jira Administrator, Security, Legal, and Compliance teams for any company-specific policies.

Also read: 9 Tips for Getting Action in Jira

Jira Server vs Jira Cloud Interface Comparison

Are you migrating from Jira Server to Jira Cloud (or vice versa)? The user interfaces are similar, but there are some differences to prepare for.

In early 2020 Atlassian started incrementally delivering a new navigation experience for Jira Cloud. The return of the horizontal navigation makes the application look similar to Server, but there are still UI differences to be aware of.

Continue reading “Jira Server vs Jira Cloud Interface Comparison”

Application Review: Servado Enterprise Portals for Jira

Quite simply, I love this Jira app. Why didn’t I think of this? Why didn’t Atlassian think of this? Luckily, the good folks at Origo did and I’m excited to share their creation with you! With Servado Enterprise Portals for Jira, there’s finally a real way to tie all your Atlassian (and non-Atlassian) applications together! Now users have a “home base” or a starting point for everything they need to do.

Servado creates a single entry point for your entire organization and it uses your existing Jira database to do it. There’s no need for a separate application; Servado leverages the amazing ticketing and reporting power of Jira, but adds portals, chat, external content, and other capabilities. This application brings everything your organization needs to a single, fully customizable, interface. Servado provides one place to manage all your business processes. Best of all there’s no coding needed and the app only consumes one Jira user license.

Continue reading “Application Review: Servado Enterprise Portals for Jira”

Which type of Jira do I have?

When I started using Jira in 2011 there was only one type. But now there are different application types, like Jira Core, Jira Software, and Jira Service Desk, and different deployment types, like Jira Cloud, Jira Server, and Jira Data Center. If you have Jira Cloud, there are also different plans like Free, Standard, and Premium. How do you know which you have? Why does it matter?

Continue reading “Which type of Jira do I have?”

Tips for Creating Good Jira Forms and Screens

Now that you know why good form design is important and how to ask good questions, here are some quick ways to improve Jira screens and Jira Service Desk request forms.


Use these easy field tips in Jira.

1. Limit fields on the Create screen

When you create a project, Jira automatically creates screens and schemes for it. A “Kanban Default Issue Screen” includes 14 fields! By the time you’ve added additional custom fields, screens are often long and cumbersome. Just because info is needed, doesn’t mean it’s needed at the same time the issue is created. Group your fields into the following categories:

  • information needed immediately (Ex: Description and Requested date),
  • information needed later in the workflow (Ex: Estimate and Due date),
  • and information needed before an issue is completed (Ex: Time tracking and Root Cause).
Fields for a Simple Create Screen

Only show fields in the first category on the “Create” screen. Fewer fields make issues easier to create, especially for non-technical users.

Also only ask for information the creator can immediately provide. For example, if the creator isn’t the person who calculates the estimate or determines the release date, omit those fields. You can collect that information, during a scheduling process, later in the workflow.

If you have “Edit” and “View” screens, include all the relevant fields, so info is easy to update at any time. Usually these actions can share the same screen but sometimes they are different.  Example:  A field has a value but editing it is not desired.  In this case, the “View” screen shows the field but the “Edit” screen does not.  As a reminder, for Jira Cloud Next-gen projects, there’s just one screen per project or per issue type and no distinction between the create, edit, and view operations.  

2. Use tabs to group similar fields

If there are many fields, use the “tabs” feature to group them. In the screenshot, all user picker fields are together in the “People” tab and all date and version fields are in the “Internal” tab.

Two Custom Tabs on a Screen

3. Collect additional information during the workflow

Determine when in the workflow other fields should be completed. For example, fields like “Assignee”, “Due date”, and “Original Estimate” should be filled before an issue reaches the “In Progress” status. Use a workflow transition screen, and validators, to require entry. If you’re using ProForma, you can create separate forms to collect information at different times in the workflow.

4. Order fields strategically

List fields in the order the user is likely to supply the information. Place more important fields at the top.

Always place the “Priority” field before a “Requested” date field.  It may help set realistic expectations to ask for the importance before the date.

5. Order fields consistently

Use a consistent field order for all issue types and projects. Users expect and appreciate a standard.

6. Only create fields that are reported on

Don’t show unnecessary fields, collect information you won’t use, or create custom fields that aren’t queried. Instead, use the standard “Description” and “Comment” fields and train users what information to provide.

7. Utilize best practices and standard web form conventions

When creating screens, be aware of the web and application standard conventions that users expect. Here are some tips for effective and useful web forms.

  • Don’t ask too many questions
    Only ask for information you’ll use.  For example, if you plan to respond to issues via email, only ask for an email address (not an email address, a phone number, and a mailing address.)  If you already have the reporter’s email address on file, don’t ask them to type it. Short web forms are more likely to be completed.  Users dislike providing many ways for you to contact (aka spam, annoy) them.
  • Ask specific questions
    Use field descriptions to ask the user for specific information or to provide formatting instructions.  Asking a specific question gives you better information than a blank or “Enter your message here” description.  Examples: “What software do you need installed?” or “What is the expected result of the defect?” 
  • If a field has validation requirements, tell the user exactly what to enter
    Give clear and easy to understand directions.  Don’t wait for a user to enter data incorrectly before providing them with formatting instructions.  For example, tell the user to enter their phone number in the format: ###-###-#### rather than provide the vague error “Please enter a valid phone number.
  • Confirm successful submissions
    After a user clicks the submit button, there should be a confirmation that the message was received or an error message if there were any problems. Jira handles this functionality by default.
  • Post and adhere to your privacy policy
    Any time you collect user information, you should have an easily accessible privacy statement that addresses what you collect, how you use it, and under what circumstances, if any, you disclose it.  If completing a form means you’ll add their email address to your newsletter system, for example, that needs to be clear.  This is important for public instances and when you use Jira for customer support.
  • Consider your audience
    As with everything web related, create forms with the end user and their specific goals in mind.  You may need separate forms for existing customers, new prospects, or different situations.  Don’t try to serve all users and all conditions with the same form.

Jira Service Desk

With Jira Service Desk, you have a different audience to consider.  In Jira, the create form should be as short as possible.  But in Jira Service Desk, it’s important to collect all the important details up front, to avoid multiple rounds of follow-up questions.  This is especially important when working with external customers in different time zones.

Use the Jira tips above and these additional tips for JSD.

1. Use “Introduction text” to provide portal instructions

Enter a custom message to help users understand support options and share additional help resources. The intro message is especially important when there are multiple Service Desk portals. Intro message space is available in addition to the temporary announcement banner. (Both are pictured below.) Visit Project Settings > Portal settings to enter introduction text.

Sample Portal Introduction Message

2. Use the “Description” field to help users select the correct form

Add a short description for each request form, so users can determine the best selection for their request.

Sample Form Description

Always provide a selection for “all other requests”. In the screenshot above, there’s a generic form titled “Get IT help.”

3. Use the “Help and instructions” field to set request expectations

Enter custom instructions for each request form so users know what information is needed and how long it usually takes to receive a response. In the screenshot below, the user can expect help within 2 hours for this type of support request.

Sample Request Message

4. Customize field labels and add field descriptions

In JSD you can customize a Jira field’s label. For example, I often change the default “Summary” label to the more descriptive “Summarize the problem.”

Similarly, you can also customize field descriptions. Use the Jira field description for Jira users and tailor language in the Portal to that audience.

Custom Field Labels and Descriptions

5. Group forms by request type

In my former role as a web developer, I always considered a user’s capacity for processing information. Too many form choices can overwhelm a user. If you have more than 5 request forms, use the JSD “groups” feature to categorize the list.

Five Sample Form Categories

6. Use unique form icons

Each request form has an icon. Make each unique and choose icons that visually communicate what each request form is for. If you can’t find the right icon, you can make your own. Atlassian recommends a 20px grid with 24px padding. Read more

Finally, and most importantly, make it easy, intuitive, and painless to complete Jira screens and Jira Service Desk request forms.  The process should be simple for all users.


  • Why Form Design in Jira Matters  –  How you design your forms will impact the quality of data you receive, and much more!
  • Layout and Flow: Creating User-Friendly Forms in Jira – Form layout affects completion rates and user frustration. We’ll discuss the right way to do it.
  • Writing Good Form Questions in Jira: Part 1 – How do you choose the right words, field types and validation levels? This article will dig into the nitty gritty of creating good form questions. 
  • Writing Good Form Questions in Jira: Part 2 – Choice questions are great for collecting structured data. We’ll look at the options for choice questions and discuss ways to influence, or mitigated influence on the user.
  • Things to think about when converting forms in Jira – Bringing a process into Jira for the first time? Don’t just copy forms straight across. This is a chance to make improvements.
  • Efficient Jira Screens and Jira Service Desk Request Forms Jira screens and JSD request forms aren’t the same. Here’s how you can make each one work for its audience.
  • Tips for Creating good forms/screens in Jira – Learn how you can leverage Jira features like tabs, workflow transitions and icons to create better forms and screens.
  • Form Design Best Practices: What you can and can’t do in Jira – Now that we know what good form design means, we’ll hone in on which practices can be applied to Jira and Jira Service Desk
  • Use cases – We’ll also include a series of use cases illustrating how using forms expands what you can do in Jira.
  • Form audit – Finally, we’ll take a bad form and transform it to an awesome, user-friendly, data collecting machine.

Jira Cloud Navigation Comparison

Update: A new navigation for Jira Cloud is here!  The experience was fully delivered to all new and existing applications in June 2020.

Atlassian is returning to Jira’s navigation roots by replacing the left sidebar menu with a top nav bar. Former Jira Server users will find the design very familiar.

Users are likely to adopt these changes quickly. My colleague, Chris Lutz, who has previously only used the vertical navigation, said the new look is really easy to get used to. He likes that his primary dashboard is easier to find and says “the new experience much more intuitive”.

Here’s a “before and after” comparison so you’re prepared when the change comes to your application.

Continue reading “Jira Cloud Navigation Comparison”

Efficient Jira Screens and Jira Service Desk Request Forms

When I became a Jira administrator, the most confusing part of project administration was how screens, screen schemes, and issue type screen schemes worked together. Huh? All I wanted to do was to change a few fields around and instead, I found myself lost in a confusing combination of settings that didn’t make any sense to me. Shouldn’t it be easier? Once I understood the relationship however, I saw how powerful these settings are when they work together. Let’s start out with some simple definitions.


Screens define which fields are present and their display order. Jira Server and Jira Cloud “Classic” projects have four types of screens. They are:

  1. Create: A screen for creating a new issue
    • This screen collects the initial information from the Reporter. It often contains just a few of the most important and required fields.
  2. Edit: A screen for editing an existing issue
    • This screen contains all the fields a user is able to complete or update.
  3. View: A screen for viewing an issue’s details
    • This screen contains all the fields a user is able to view.
    • Note: Jira Server and Jira Cloud “Classic” projects only display fields that have data. For example, if the “Due Date” field is empty, you won’t see it on an issue’s view screen.
  4. Transition: A screen that is displayed during a workflow transition
    • This screen is often used to collect or update data at different points in an issue’s lifecycle. For example, the “Resolution” field value is collected before an issue reaches its final workflow status.
    • Tip: Distinguish your transition screens from other screens by naming them with a “(T)”. Example screen name: Assignment (T). See screenshot.
Image: A transition screen’s name is signified with “(T)”

You can have one screen, or one set of screens, for all issues in your project. Or you can have different screens for each issue type. We’ll talk more about that in the “Issue Type Screen Scheme” section below.

Jira Cloud “Next-gen” projects work differently however. There’s just one screen per project or per issue type and no distinction between the create, edit, and view operations. “Next-gen” projects treat empty fields differently as well. An empty field displays with the word “None” below it, as pictured.

Image: The “Start Date” field is empty, but displayed in a Jira Cloud “Next-gen” project

Fields and Ordering

In all versions of Jira, screens display both standard and custom fields.
Some fields can be ordered as desired by rearranging them on the admin view of the screen.  Other fields are automatically placed and grouped together. For example, all user-picker fields (“Assignee”, “Reporter”, etc) appear together on the right side of an issue’s screen. All date fields (“Due Date”, “Created Date”, “Updated Date”) also appear together on the right.

Screen Schemes

Jira Server and Jira Cloud “Classic” projects have Screen Schemes.
Remember the “create”, “edit”, and “view” operations above? This scheme associates one or more screens with an operation.

In this simple example, there’s one screen for each operation.

Image: The “Epic Screen Scheme” uses the screen called “Epic: Create, Edit and View” for all operations

In this more complex example, there is one screen for the “create” operation and another screen for the “edit” and “view” operations.

Image: The “Bug Screen Scheme” used the “Bug: Create” screen for the create operation and the “Bug: Edit and View” screen for the other operations.

A Screen Scheme can have as little as one screen shared by all operations or as many as three screens, with one screen for each operation.

Why Multiple Screens?

I recommend starting with one screen shared by the “create”, “edit”, and “view” operations in your project. If that screen becomes cluttered with too many fields, or if information needs to be collected during different stages of the workflow, then consider using multiple screens.

Issue Type Screen Schemes

Jira Server and Jira Cloud “classic” projects also have one final setting called an Issue Type Screen Scheme. This scheme associates screens with different issue types. Just like you can have different screens for different operations, you can have one set of screens for your Bugs, one set for your Stories, and another set for your Tasks.

This Issue Type Screen Scheme has two Screen Schemes. The Bug issue type uses the “Bug Screen Scheme” which has two screens. The Epic issue type uses the “Epic Screen Scheme” which has one screen.

Image: The Bug issue type has three bug-specific screens. The Epic issue type has only one epic-specific screen.

Tying it Together

Screens, Screen Schemes, and Issue Type Screen Schemes work together to power your project. Atlassian explains this relationship in this diagram.

It look me a long time to understand these concepts. I recommend you re-read this article and experiment in your own Jira test environment, until the relationship between these settings is clear.

Jira Service Desk Request Forms

If you have Jira Service Desk, there’s another type of “screen” to be aware of. When Service Desk Agents login to Jira, they see the typical Jira screens described above. When Service Desk Customers login to the Customer Portal however, they see request forms.

Request forms provide a simpler and streamlined issue view, which is great for less technical audiences. Customers need no Jira knowledge to use the portal to submit their request.

In the example below, the left image shows a default Jira create screen, which contains 21 fields. The right image shows a default Jira Service Desk change request form, which contains only 10 fields. Which one looks easier to complete?

Image: A Jira change request create screen (left) and a Jira Service Desk change request form (right)

Best Practices

Make your screens and schemes as easy, efficient, and reusable as possible. Here are some recommendations:

As With all Forms

  • Don’t collect data you won’t query on or actually use
  • List fields in the order a user would likely supply the information
  • Order fields consistently between issues types in a project and between projects. Users expect and appreciate a standard.
    • Example: The “Summary” field is always first, the “Description” field is always second, etc.

For Jira Server and Jira Cloud “Classic” Projects

  • Use a single screen for all operations (“create”, “edit”, “view”) until there’s a real need for additional screens.
    • Consider additional screens when there are too many fields or if information needs to be collected during different stages of the workflow.
  • On the “create” screen:
    • Only include the most important and required fields. Too many fields overwhelm users. Too many fields also impacts loading and performance.
    • Only include fields relevant to the Reporter. For example, if a business team member is reporting a Bug, they can’t provide an effort estimate and won’t know which code version is impacted. Don’t show the “Story Points”, “Original Estimate” or “Affects Version” fields. Instead, add these fields to your “edit” and “view” screens. You can also prompt a development team member for that information, later in the workflow, using a “transition” screen.
  • Create a single screen and a single screen scheme, for all issue types, until more are needed.
    • Example: You want the custom fields “Steps to Reproduce” and “Expected Result” on a Bug’s “create” screen, but not on a Story’s “create” screen.
    • Example: Create one standard for all development projects and another standard for support projects, not one custom configuration per Jira project.
  • Create generic screens and schemes so they can be shared between projects.

Other articles in this series:

  • Why Form Design in Jira Matters  –  How you design your forms will impact the quality of data you receive, and much more!
  • Layout and Flow: Creating User-Friendly Forms in Jira – Form layout affects completion rates and user frustration. We’ll discuss the right way to do it.
  • Writing Good Form Questions in Jira: Part 1 – How do you choose the right words, field types and validation levels? This article will dig into the nitty gritty of creating good form questions. 
  • Writing Good Form Questions in Jira: Part 2 – Choice questions are great for collecting structured data. We’ll look at the options for choice questions and discuss ways to influence, or mitigated influence on the user.
  • Things to think about when converting forms in Jira – Bringing a process into Jira for the first time? Don’t just copy forms straight across. This is a chance to make improvements.
  • Efficient Jira Screens and Jira Service Desk Request Forms Jira screens and JSD request forms aren’t the same. Here’s how you can make each one work for its audience.
  • Tips for Creating good forms/screens in Jira – Learn how you can leverage Jira features like tabs, workflow transitions and icons to create better forms and screens.
  • Form Design Best Practices: What you can and can’t do in Jira – Now that we know what good form design means, we’ll hone in on which practices can be applied to Jira and Jira Service Desk
  • Use cases – We’ll also include a series of use cases illustrating how using forms expands what you can do in Jira.
  • Form audit – Finally, we’ll take a bad form and transform it to an awesome, user-friendly, data collecting machine.

Evolution of Jira Design

A better navigation for Jira Cloud is coming soon! While we wait I thought it would be fun to dig up some old screenshots and take an unofficial and outsiders look at how the Jira interface has changed over the years.

When Jira was first released in 2002, it was purely for software development.  But these days, all kinds of teams, like Legal, Marketing, HR, and IT, use Jira to track their work and their team’s “to do” list.  Jira is useful for any industry and it’s not just for software development anymore!

The modern Jira experience is much different than what launched in 2002. Jira has evolved into different application types and different deployment methods. You can choose between Jira Core for business teams, Jira Software for development teams, and Jira Service Desk for support teams. You can also choose Jira Cloud (Atlassian hosted), Jira Server (hosted on-premises, in a data center with your other internal applications, or in a Cloud server environment like Amazon AWS), or Jira Data Center (also self-hosted but built for mission critical environments.)

It’s no surprise that the application’s design, look, and navigation has changed drastically over the years. Here are a few examples of the visual evolution.

In the Beginning

In 2002, Jira looked just like all the other web applications did at the time. As a web developer, I remember web application design closely mirrored desktop application design. It felt like developers were porting their applications to “web format” and wanting them to behave the same way as the PC versions did. User interface standards were just emerging. Websites were mostly grid based and layouts were in box or table format. In the Jira 2002 screenshot example you can see the familiar “logo in the top left header” standard that we all still expect today.

Jira circa 2002. Source: Happy Birthday to the Atlassian Community

In 2007 the logo and header changed slightly but the overall layout remained the same. The issue screen doesn’t yet have the right sidebar to display people and date fields. This design reminds me of what you see today when you export Jira filter results for printing.

Jira circa 2007. Source: Atlassian Marketplace

In 2009 Atlassian acquired GreenHopper which added release planning, burn down charts, and many of the agile features we use today. I still remember installing GreenHopper as an app and when “Agile” was a link in the top nav.

Into the Cloud

In 2011, Atlassian created a cloud-based version of Jira. It looked and functioned just like the self-hosted version. It was originally named “JIRA OnDemand” and the on-prem version was called “JIRA Download.” The names were re-branded in 2014.

Also in 2011, the Jira admin interface received a new project-centric design. I’m very thankful for the quick nav and keyboard shortcuts. I use the “gg” shortcut daily to move around the admin area.

Originally named RapidBoards, Scrum Boards graduated from the labs sandbox and became a standard feature in 2012.

Boards circa 2012. Source: Jira Server 5.10 release notes

Just two years later, the board design looked more polished with assignee avatars, different placement for priority icons and estimates, and improved spacing.

Boards circa 2014. Source: Form nimble agile teams

In 2012, the Atlassian Design Guidelines (ADG) were published to unify the customer experience across products. Hooray for consistency and standards! This meant the typography, spacing, and layout in Jira would be similar in Confluence. Jira 6, released in 2013, was the first “ADG compliant” version.

In 2013, the workflow designer was rebuilt in HTML 5. I remember when HTML 5 was the latest and greatest thing in web development! We all hoped it would replace Adobe Flash. Flash support officially ends in Dec 2020, but I haven’t seen a Flash-based website in years.

Back in 2013, all the workflow statuses were one color. We didn’t see different status categories, colors, or lozenges until version 6.2 in 2015. Different status colors helped end users understand whether they were in the beginning, middle, or end of an issue’s life cycle.

One Color Workflow Statuses
Multi-Color Workflow Statuses

Custom status icons were also eliminated in 2015. Anyone remember those? I don’t think anyone misses them.

Workflow Status Icons

New Designs for new Application Types

In 2015, Atlassian split Jira into two application types: Jira Core and Jira Software. Core featured a simplified interface aimed at business teams. Software retained development-specific features like versions, sprints, and dev tool integration. In the Jira Core screenshot below there are few links in the left nav.

Jira Core circa 2015. Source: Say hello to Jira Core

As the applications diverged, sometimes new features were built in one type but not in the other. For example, Jira Cloud got a new visual roadmap feature and Jira Data Center got archive abilities. Design differences emerged and even some terminology changed. Cloud has a global permission called “Share dashboards and filters” but the same feature in Server is named “Create Shared Objects.” All these small differences are certainly challenging for me. It’s harder to use both application types at the same time and to keep training materials up to date. Even Atlassian has to maintain separate sets of documentation.

In 2016, the atlassian.design domain was registered to house their design principle documentation and brand information. Their style guide is a fabulous example for other organizations to follow. I especially like how easy their logos are to download and the “don’t do this” logo crime samples.

Also this year mobile Jira apps for IOs and Android were launched with their own platform-specific features and design.

Jira Android App. Source: Jira Software for Android has landed
New Jira logo

In 2017, Atlassian re-branded their entire corporate identity introducing a new logo, individual product logos, and renaming “JIRA” to “Jira”. Branding modifications are inevitable as companies grow and change. This is the fifth Atlassian logo change in 15 years. There’s a great graphic showing the logo evolution here. The new logo symbols feel multi-dimensional, fresh, and modern. It will be a long time before I can update every instance of “JIRA” to “Jira” in my book and on my website though!

Jira Cloud UI Overhaul

Also in 2017, Atlassian departed from their previous interface strategy. They announced “Jira Cloud will get an updated look and feel, including a collapsible sidebar navigation and enhanced search, to help your teams get things done faster.” The new nav was completely different from the top horizontal navigation in Jira Server and in previous Cloud versions.

I had trouble finding my way around and noticed more clicks were needed to get to some areas. The large left side bar commanded a lot of visual space. It was collapsible but you’d need to expand it again to access certain links. Sometimes the navigation loaded after the page contents loaded. Most annoyingly, the nav’s vertical scroll bar made it hard to print or screenshot pages. This navigation reminded me of designing with HTML frames in early 2000.

Source: Your teams are getting better navigation in Jira Cloud

Jira Cloud “Before”
Jira Cloud “After”
Bento Box Concept

In 2018, Atlassian took inspiration from the Japanese, Taiwanese, and Chinese bento box to redesign the Jira Cloud issue view. This design divided and grouped key actions and information, much like how rice, meat, and vegetables are separated in individual portions.

Also In Jira Cloud:

Jira Cloud Vertical Workflow

Workflow transitions were simplified. They ware displayed vertically and at the top of the right sidebar.

The separate “view” and “edit” screens were collapsed into a single screen. As such, there’s no “Edit” button and and all fields received inline edit capability.

New search capabilities were added. A keyword search very quickly returned recent issues, boards, projects, and filters. I found myself wishing I could enter simple queries in this search bar.

New Search Function

Clicking an issue from a board opened it in an overlay. When you closed the issue, your board was still there in the background.

Issues Open in an Overlay

Joining the Next Generation

In 2018 Atlassian introduced the concept of next-gen projects for Jira Cloud. This special project type is scheme-less. Project settings aren’t shared and settings don’t impact other projects. The simple configuration interface lets end users quickly create new projects on their own. Read my thoughts on next-gen projects here. Another Cloud feature, Agility boards were also introduced.

The Next-gen interface for adding custom fields and organizing them on screens is simple and intuitive. (Left screenshot below.) But I find the issue screen itself unbalanced. (Right screenshot below.) Most of the fields are stacked on the right side. When there are a lot of fields, they are collapsed and you have to click around to find them. Without a long description, attachment, or comment list, there’s a lot of unused white space on the left.

Jira Cloud Next-gen Project Configuration

Jira Cloud Next-gen Issue
New Workflow Status Colors

Also in 2018, Atlassian split their design guidelines, creating one version for Cloud and one version for Server. The Atlassian Design Guidelines version 3 was published and workflow statuses received new colors.

2020 and Beyond

The new Jira Cloud horizontal navigation launches in March 2020! I’m looking forward to returning to Jira’s navigation roots and what I’m used to. As another user put it “What’s old is “new” again?” Yes, it appears so and I’m very happy about it. Since I use both Cloud and Server, I’m also glad that the nav will be similar again.

Change is the only thing that’s certain. We must all learn to work with it and retrain ourselves and our end users when necessary. I haven’t loved absolutely every change Atlassian has made, but every change is an opportunity (either for me or for them) to learn something new. I’m looking forward to the changes in 2020 and beyond.

While you’re waiting for the new Cloud nav to arrive in your instance, here are some early screenshots of the latest look and feel.

Like Atlassian history? Also read: Summit Through the Years and Jira Cloud Navigation Comparison

Verify Approval in a Jira Workflow

It’s smart to make Jira workflows as simple and flexible as possible. I like to give users multiple ways to transition issues between statuses and even let them skip statuses when needed. But sometimes skipping a status is undesirable or creates a compliance problem. Consider an approval status for example. You’d certainly fail an audit if work was started on an issue or an issue was completed before it was approved. Luckily, Innovalog’s Jira Misc Workflow Extensions (JMWE) app has a validator to prevent it.

Use Case

Before work is started or an issue reaches its final workflow status, make sure it passes through the “Approval” status.


You’ll need the following:

  • Access: Jira application administrator permissions (to install the app) and the ability to edit workflows
  • Environment: Jira Server, Jira Data Center, or Jira Cloud
  • Install: Install the JMWE app from the “Find new apps” page in your Jira instance. Apply a free trial or paid license on the “Manage apps” page.

We’ll use the following app features:

Set Up

Simple workflow with an “Approval” status and global transitions

Set up or create the following:

  • Workflow: Create one simple workflow with an “Approval” status. Example: Open > Approval > To Do > In Progress > Closed
  • Issues: Create one issue


Here’s how to do it:

  • Edit the workflow
  • In text or diagram mode, add a validator to the “In Progress” transition
    • Select the transition leading to the “In Progress” status
    • Click the “Validators” tab (text mode) or link (diagram mode)
    • Click the “Add validator” link
    • Add the “Previous Status Validator (JMWE add-on)” validator
    • In the “Previous Status” field, select the “Approval” status
    • In the “Error message” field, enter the copy “Please transition to the “Approval” status to collect approval.
    • Click the “Add” form submission button and publish the workflow
Innovalog Previous Status Validator
On the validator’s setting page, the “Approval” status is selected and a custom error message is provided (optional).
The “In Progress” global transition has one validator, requiring an issue to have previously transitioned through the “Approval” status.
  • Using the same steps above, add a “Previous Status Validator” to the “Closed” transition

With the two validators in place, issues may not skip the “Approval” workflow status. The validator checks the issue’s transition history, to make sure it previously reached the “Approval” step.


Test your work:

  • Transition your sample issue from its initial status to the “In Progress” status
  • The transition should fail and display an overlay with your custom error message
A transition from the “Open” status to the “In Progress” status fails and a custom error message is displayed.

Bonus: Allow selected issues to bypass the “Approval” status

If an issue is small or low risk, you may want to conditionally bypass approval. An easy way to do this is by checking the value of a custom field before executing the transition validator.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Create a custom “Select List” field called “Risk”
    • Create the selection values: “Low”, “Medium”, and “High”
  • Add the custom field to your issue’s screen
  • In the sample issue, set the “Risk” value to “Low” or “Medium”
  • Edit one of the existing Previous Status Validators
  • On the validator’s settings page, click the “Conditional validation” checkbox under the “Validator scope” header
  • Use the wizard to craft a simple Groovy script that checks the “Risk” field for a value of “High”
    • Click the “Issue Fields” button
    • In the “Select a field: ” form field, chose the “Risk” custom field
    • Under the “ACCESSING THE FIELD’S VALUE” header, click the “issue.get(“customfield_10700”) == “An option”” button
      • Note: Your custom field ID will be different than the example
    • In the Groovy statement inserted above, change the “An option” copy to “High”
    • Click the “Update” form submission button and publish the workflow

This simple script allows issues with a Risk of “Low” or “Medium” to ignore the entire validator. Learn more about Groovy customizations here.

With this added condition the validator only runs if the “Risk” field’s value is “High”


Why is the “To Do” status needed in the sample workflow?

Two reasons:

  1. When an issue is approved, it doesn’t mean work automatically starts. There may be a review or assignment process that occurs before someone actually starts work on an approved issue. The “To Do” status helps signify that the issue is ready to work, but work has not yet started.
  2. An issue must pass through the “Approval” status for the validator to function. Simply reaching the “Approval” status is not enough to indicate approval was collected.

Why did you use the “Previous Status Validator” instead of the “Previous Status Condition“?

Workflow conditions allow you to show or hide transitions. I wanted the “In Progress” and “Closed” transitions to display regardless of whether the issue reached the “Approval” status.

Still having trouble? Check the Jira log file, turn on error handling on the Jira Misc Workflow Extensions Global Configuration page, review the JMWE documentation, review answered questions in the Atlassian Community, or raise an Innovalog support request.

Need Workflow Help?

Jira, Jira Service Desk, and Confluence courses

Take the “Jira Workflows for Business Teams” online course, get the Jira Strategy Admin Workbook, and check out the workflow materials in the Strategy for Jira store.