March 2007 - Posts
Great user experience (UX) is difficult to achieve but often so simple - improvements can be blindingly obvious afterwards.
The Windows Vista UX guide, gives the example of the Spelling and Grammar checking dialog
, it was "powerful" but a "powerful and simple" in-place design is even better.
But simplicity isn't simple
, what is the 80/20 percent of your software application that your users actually use everyday?
Look at these examples of badly thought-out charts illustrating quantitative information
If you need some ideas for visualizations methods, this periodic table
has some good examples.
Jakob Nielsen talks about Return on investment for Usability
, of IStartedSomething, points to the updated Windows Vista UX Guidelines on MSDN.
Including guidelines on warning messages and suggestions on how to avoid, "Users are more likely to focus on getting rid of the warning than fixing the underlying problem".
Also we are starting to see information on "Designing with Windows Presentation Foundation
", touching on animation being appropriate, aesthetically pleasing often in a subtle way.
How Pragmatic Architecture can be applied to user interfaces
and segmenting UI fundamentals into five parts: style, implementation, perspectives, cardinality and locality
I'll talk in a future post about my thoughts on WPF and UX.
lifts the game on scripting on the Windows platform, with access to the .NET framework and a host of other features.
gives the environment an IDE with intellisense, etc.
lets "you create multiple gadgets like charts, gauges and maps on your desktop or integrated into the Windows Vista Sidebar" - they have put together some great looking components.
Interactive reference guides for the UI changes between Office 2003 and Office 2007
Pity Microsoft haven't released "Scout
" for public use though.
Great post by Pete Lacey on SOAP being simple
Developer: So, my boss was playing golf this weekend, and now I have to—quote, unquote—SOAP-enable the enterprise, but I don’t know what SOAP is. Can you help, SOAP Guy?
SOAP Guy: Sure thing. First, SOAP stands for Simple Object Access Protocol.
Dev: So it’s simple?
SG: Simple as Sunday, my friend.
Dev: Okay, lay it on me.
SG: Well, just like it says in the name, SOAP is used for accessing remote objects.
Dev: Like CORBA?
SG: Exactly like CORBA, only simpler. Instead of some complex transport protocol that no one will let traverse a firewall, we use HTTP. And instead of some binary message format we use XML.
Dev: I’m intrigued. Show me how it works.
SG: Sure thing. First there’s the SOAP envelope. It’s pretty simple. It’s just an XML document consisting of a header and a body. And in the body you make your RPC call.
... story continues ...
SG: Oh, there is no spec. This is just what Microsoft seems to be doing. Looked like a good idea, so now all the cool kids are doing it. However, there is this new thing. I think you’re gonna like it. It’s called the Web Services Interoperability Group, or the WS-I. What they’re doing is trying to remove a lot of the ambiguity in the SOAP and WSDL specs. I know how you like specs.
Dev: So, in other words, the specs were so bad you need a standards body to standardize the standards. Lord. Well, will this solve my interoperability problems?
SG: Oh, yeah. So long as you use a WS-I compliant SOAP stack, avoid using 8/10ths of XML Schema, don’t use any unusual data types, and don’t count on working with WebSphere and Apache Axis.
Dev: And is wrapped-doc/lit explained in there?
SG: Ermm, no. But that’s okay, you’re tools understand it. Most of them, anyway.
Dev: Let me sum up. The definition of SOAP is in constant flux, SOAP is anything but simple, and it is no longer meant for accessing objects-even though that’s what all the tools still do.
SG: That’s about right, but we’re way ahead of you on this. We’ve deprecated the meaning of the SOAP acronym.
Dev: Really! What does it stand for now?
SG: Let me tell you about UDDI.
Superb but unfortunately true - Tool support and WCF to the rescue (or at least help a bit!)
Part of my role involves me communicating to business units how new technology can improve their processes.
As part of the global SharePoint team the impact of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007
and rollout of the new Office 2007 client suite
is getting alot of traction.
Microsoft released a high-level whitepaper talking about on using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) for collaboration for the Banking industry
The self-service nature of SharePoint (example of emplyee reviews
) and the evolution of it as a platform
is now a driving force
From 2-way sync-ing of metadata between Word and SharePoint lists
to dashboard views
Other resources/whitepapers from Microsoft (quite a few are really for ISVs/partners but are good internal marketing too) you might want to look at include:
Tips and TricksOffice 2007 partner sales toolsGoverenceWeb 2.0 in the Enterprise
One particular good document is the Microsoft Sales Toolkit 'Gear Up'
, which gives a marketing overview of most Microsoft products.
External vendors are beginning to plug gaps in functionality like taxonomy
Even the Web Content Management (WCM) features have been deployed by a number of companies
with Microsoft planning more improvements on http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/
Also connected to information workers, these papers comes some interesting statistics:
Knowledge workers spend 15 percent of 30 percent of their work days looking for information
, and at least 50 percent of online search are not successful.
Work-life balance will be eclipsed by work-life blending - Microsoft and FutureLab report
which states nearly half o fall works (46.8%) have jobs that invole them working away from the office.
Finally some teasers on Office "14"...
This is a little tip
I've not seen widely mentioned as it is off by default.
But the "Use natural language search" in the Folder Search options, allows you to type search like:
"pictures taken last week"
"Email to Jay Fluegel about Sony Vaio"
"Mail from Bill Gates sent yesterday"
"Music by Stones Roses rated *****"
Flickr had an outage last month
and it was interesting to see their blog being used to give an honest update on what was happening
I've seen different sites handle being offline, Flickr normally put up 'Flickr is having a massage'
, lastminute.com showed a code to give £10 off next order as way of an apology.
You can easily switch a site powered by ASP.NET using the App_Offline.htm trick
Good article on how myspace.com evolved
out of Perl/Apache/MySQL prototype to the 150 ASP.NET servers of today.