10 Getting Started with JIRA: User Interface

This article is a part of Astral Web’s Comprehensive Guide to JIRA!


Previously: 09 Getting Started with JIRA: User Roles & Permissions

By now you may have gotten used to how JIRA Clouds looks and navigates, but here are some additional details about the interface that you may or may not already know.


Dashboards are the first page your users will land when they log into JIRA. The space is useful for filtering and sharing JIRA information, which is achieved by adding different types of gadgets such as search filters, pie charts, and other data collection formats.


System Dashboard

The default dashboard you will get when you start JIRA is the System Dashboard. This default dashboard includes the “Introduction”, “Assigned to Me”, and “Activity Stream” gadgets. These are basic and fairly useful, but there are much more gadgets that JIRA provides for you to make user of. To do this, you will need to create new custom dashboards.

Custom Dashboards

To add modify or more gadgets, you will need to create a new dashboard since you cannot make changes to the default dashboard. Select the top right “…” icon and select “Create Dashboard”. You must be an admin or user with permission to create new boards, and usually only the creator or user with higher permissions will be able to make changes.

Add a name (e.g. “Project Team ABC Dashboard” or “Design Team Dashboard”) that will be relevant to the users who will be using this dashboard.


We have created 3 basic levels of dashboards for our teams. Our highest level is a “Company Dashboard” that displays top level overall project information so we can quickly view the status of multiple projects at once. Only administrators can access this dashboard. We also have dashboards for each team by function such as “Design Team”, “Development Team”, and “Sales Team”. These filter projects and issues so they are most useful for each team and their members. We also have “Project Dashboards” for larger projects, so the project managers can get an overview of their entire project on the dashboard.

We use different dashboard gadgets to share information. For example, our Project Dashboard shows a calendar with hot issues, a line chart to show how many tickets have been created, and a pie chart to show the status of all of the tickets. This helps us understand the overall situation of one project.


Dashboard Gadgets

JIRA offers a few dozen dashboard gadgets to use. There are some 3rd party gadgets that can be purchased, but we have never tried any. Not many of the gadgets are amazing, but they do basic data collection and show different charts. The Calendar gadget and Pie Chart are some of the most useful ones. We recommend you to try all of them to see and feel if they are useful for you.


The most important factor is the data you are feeding to the gadget, which is all controlled by another feature called “Filters”. We will discuss how to use Filters in another article, but note that adding a gadget will not have enough power to filter fine details.

One type of gadget that is missing and we would love to have (which apparently used to be available in a much older version) is one that can add plain text or code. JIRA decided to remove these features. But, we do describe in our previous article that the “Introduction” section under your JIRA General System Settings is the only and best way to share custom text and basic code. Otherwise a 3rd party gadget may fulfill your needs.

More Dashboard Space

Select the “Edit layout” button to change the dashboard layout. You will be able to select between basic 1-3 columns. We use the default 2-column layout since it’s a good balance. The 3-column layout gets too small to show detailed information. You can try switching between them to see which works best for you. Just be careful that your gadgets may jump around when you make changes.


You can also improve your viewing space by making the side menu smaller. Click the divider between the left menu and right side content to make the menu bar smaller. It isn’t much, but it does help to show more content on the right side if you have a small monitor. Otherwise you can zoom out on your browser (e.g. “ctrl” + ”-”) to see more.


Look and Feel

The overall usability of JIRA Cloud cannot be changed so much, but you can change the logo and colors of your interface. Go to the section under “JIRA Settings” > “System” > “Look and feel”.

We added a nice company logo (and JIRA since we had some extra space), which needs to be around 368px by 64px. There are also options to show Titles on browsers tabs, Colors, and Time Display.


You can only choose two colors for interface. The background color of your sidebar, and the Text and Icon colors. It would be nice to have more control, but you can at least unify colors for easy reading or differentiate between multiple Atlassian web-apps, or just having the right color for your company.


JIRA Cloud, as most web-apps, is limited to modifying the interface, but we hope these tips help you improve usability for your team members.

Next: Getting Started with JIRA: Issue Management with Basic Agile Workflow

09 Getting Started with JIRA: User Roles & Permissions

This article is a part of Astral Web’s Comprehensive Guide to JIRA!


Previously: 08 Getting Started with JIRA: Manage Your User Profile

General Configuration

After we have added some users that can help configure and check our changes, we can now complete our general configurations that apply to your entire JIRA system.

The “Title” of your JIRA should be related to the overall system. We just simply named ours “Astral Web’s JIRA”. The naming isn’t too important, since the most prominent place you ever see it is in the tab title area.


A very useful setting is the “Introduction” section. This section allows for some basic JIRA markup code that lets you add links, styling, and images.


Go ahead and select “Edit Settings” to make changes.


JIRA dashboards don’t allow any html code (unless you buy a 3rd party plugin), but you are able to add the “Introduction” block, so it may become useful for sharing important notes with all of your users.

Here is an example of how our Introduction block looks like on our main dashboard.


Use the “Internationalization” settings to configure default language settings for all of your users. We use JIRA in both English and Chinese with English being our primary language, so we have “Other” for Indexing and “English” as our default system language. Language display settings can be changed per user as described in our previous User Profile article.


Options are useful if you want to customize even further. We used the default setting as-is, but you can optimize what users see and access by turning on or off all the features you actually need to use. For example, Voting is a great feature for prioritizing issues, but we don’t use it in any of our teams. So, we could turn it off and keep it hidden from all of the interfaces. For now, our teams just ignore these options if we don’t need them.


Security options are going to be important if you have different types of internal or external users on your project teams. You don’t want all of your users of to have admin powers that allows them to accidentally add or remove important users, features, or billing options. Define which users are admins early on, so only specific users have access to these high-level options as describe in our previous articles.

Project Roles

Project Roles are what you want to change for all the types of users you want to define and configure permissions for.


In addition to the system Administrators roles, we have added “PM (Project Manager)”, general “Team Member”, and “Guest Reporter” roles.

Project Manager Roles

PMs will have full access to their own projects allowing them to add/remove users and configure their projects as they please. The highest-level option they have is to delete their project. They cannot change global settings such as system settings, workflow schemes, etc.

General Team Member Roles

Team Members can only be invited to a project by a PM, and can only create, edit, and delete issues within the project. They can see other users’ issues and support editing them, but they will not be able to change any project settings.

Guest Reporter

Guest Reporters are roles reserved for our external stakeholders who need access to our project tickets. They can never see other projects, nor can they view issues they are not related to. So a PM must assign or add a Guest Reporter as a watcher to tickets they need access. Otherwise, the Guest Reporter can create and modify their own issue within the project.

Add Your Custom Roles

Above are examples that we use, but you should add your own custom roles as necessary. Go to the bottom of the list to “Add Project Role” to add your own.


The new role will be added to the list. You will be able to add this role to different “Permission Schemes”. We will explain after our next step to set up “Global Permissions”.

Global Permissions

Global Permissions are configurations for top level users. If you have multiple Atlassian tools, you will be able to configure how different admins can access the different tools. Global Permissions apply to all projects, so you will most likely only add admin groups or users in this area.


To add your new Project Roles to different permissions schemes, select the “Permission Schemes” in the description or click the “Permission Schemes” on the left menu panel.


We created a new permission scheme that we apply to all of our projects that we create called “AW Project Planning”. You can do this by selecting the “Add permission scheme” button on the top right.


After you create a new scheme, it will be listed on the permissions schemes list page. Select “Permissions” under the actions column to change configurations.


Inside the scheme, you will see a list of actions and options for Projects, Issues, Comments, and more. You can assign different roles to each of these actions. Once a role has been assigned to an action, then the user within that role for each project will be able to access the feature. For example, we add PMs to the “Administer Projects” permission so they can make high-level changes to projects. We do not add other roles. Other general roles are added to the “Browse Project” permission.

In this way, we continue to add our roles to permissions so we can balance security, efficiency, and necessity for all of our teams and projects.

Next we’ll show you how to change your JIRA interface appearances.

Next: 10 Getting Started with JIRA: User Interface