Tuesday, April 27, 2010
OTTAWA - Two random thoughts collided on the internet today causing a devastating urge to write down the following nonsense.
I have been reading this very insightful paper called "Attuning Notification to User Goals and Attention Costs" by D. Scott McCrickard and C.M. Chewar which is all about trade-offs we need to make in notification systems in order to support user access to additional information from sources secondary to their primary activity. In parallel I have been looking into indexing and mapping strategies that best resemble classification schemes, such that a developer could actually surface best practices to the UX layer as a catch-all for 'everything that is possible". Somewhere in between these two extremes for navigation and interruption is the actual paper I am working on with a few colleagues around defining all of these patterns of interaction in an attempt to create better dialogue, more utility in taxonomy and agility in the way we address interaction layers.
While on the trail of classification I came across a brilliant new post from Donna Spencer called Classification Schemes (and when to use them) http://bit.ly/cOWowu and within that she talks about best practices for classification inclusive of good old-fashioned Alphabetical indices and some great insight in terms of the opportunity to educate and inform users even within this seemingly mundane approach to experience. As any good author would, she cites a few examples and her example of a best practice in this regard is the BBC "A Whole Lot More" function which is essentially an alphabetical listing of all their sites aptly located at http://www.bbc.co.uk/a-z/. BBC provides the alphabet linked across the top nav element of that page and uses the remaining real estate to showcase Categories and enables horizontal scrolling of that category.
And here comes the collision...
On that categorical horizontal scroller I was drawn immediately to the lower right of the page (I assume I must have already adequately inspected the top left) wherein I was greeted by the familiar (I have children) waving form of the purple Teletubby, Tinky Winky. Tinky Winky, unlike the other characters featured more demurely, even sombre and moody, in their category boxes was smiling, animated, welcoming and engaging and I realized he was hogging my attention on the page. For those familiar with the Teletubby cartoon, you will know that they do things that little children like to do, such as rolling on the ground, laughing, running about, and watching real children on the televisions embedded in their stomachs. Their stomachs accept one form of substance, a waffle-like form that ejects vigorously from their readily available toaster called Tubby Toast.
And that's when it struck me. Henceforth, overexuberant notification systems that dominate attention span in an unbalanced way will always be referred to as Tubby Toast. That's it.
Thank you, Interwebz, for this unique form of conspired inspiration and the ability to share it. Hopefully you were notified of this article's existence in a usual, predictable and friendly fashion that gave you latitude to continue with your original task.
If you were looking for information on actual Tubby Toast, you can learn how to make your own here: http://www.pbs.org/parents/birthdayparties/teletubbies/food_toast.html but bear in mind you will be hard pressed to use that for any form of digital notification system.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Who spends more time on Facebook than they do with their family?
Who has played more than 5,000 hours of games and sent more than 250,000 emails?
Wei Liu is a designer, studying interaction design in Amsterdam, and is looking for people to share experiences and ideas that relevant to his research. If you would like to share your thoughts with Wei, please input/discuss your thoughts on http://generationyinteractions.blogspot.com/ where there is already some interesting things posted. He is especially looking for your input for the following questions:
a) What are the characteristics/classifications of 'Generation Y'?
b) What are the relevant trends/opportunities in interaction design?
c) How to map these characteristics into the development of 'Generation Y' interface?
Thursday, April 22, 2010
In case you missed the news on January 12, Adobe is now offering Adobe LiveCycle ES Developer Express. This is Adobe's first (but not last) major foray into the world of enterprise cloud computing. The LC ES Developer Express software is a full version of Adobe LiveCycle ES that is hosted in the Amazon Web Services cloud computing environment and provides a virtual, self-contained development environment where enterprise developers can prototype, develop, and test LiveCycle applications
- Provides pre-installed, pre-configured virtual instances of LiveCycle ES.
- Reduce time required to download, install, and boot new server instances.
- Develop LC ES applications in a fraction of the time.
- Virtual instances can be used to build proof-of-concepts
The base installation provides the following LiveCycle ES server applications pre-installed:
- LiveCycle Forms ES
- LiveCycle Reader Extensions ES
- LiveCycle Rights Management ES
- LiveCycle Barcoded Forms ES
- LiveCycle Digital Certificate ES
- LiveCycle Output ES
- LiveCycle Process Management ES
- LiveCycle Content Services ES
- LiveCycle PDF Generator ES
Once you get an instance up and running, it appears to be virtually running on localhost:8080. There is a small download called LiveCycle Developer Express (shown below), which then allows you to log in to the instance running in the cloud.
Once you log in, select the instance:
and hit "Connect". Once you connect, you will be able to log in by accessing the admin panel via a browser. The URL is http://localhost:8080/adminui/secured/admin.faces. Note below that I am now logged in as Admin while running it in the cloud from my Mac. What does this mean? LC ES on the Mac!!!
From here you can browse all running services on the instance:
or manage endpoints:
The service, available to all members of the Adobe Enterprise Developer Program, allows developers to bullet-proof their applications without having to invest in a development environment or test lab. I will be unveiling more on a future episode of Duane's World when we get into SOA and ESB cloud architecture.
UPDATE: There is now a full video tutorial posted on how to work with the cloud offering here: http://technoracle.blogspot.com/2010/04/using-livecycle-es2-on-cloud.html
- Author: Duane "Chaos" Nickull (pictured) is an Adobe employee and lifelong musician, cynic, traveler, athlete, author and first class antagonist.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
Recent TechCrunch post with stats from Millenial Media indicates continued "leadership" for MacOS devices in terms of mobile ad delivery. iPhone was seconded only by other Mac devices, but it was interesting to see RIM in the overall #2 spot, which seems to prove that they have broken into the consumer/end-user space quite aggressively.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
User Experience put simply makes things easier, better and more valuable for the end user. Often motivated by simply enabling the accomplishment of goals (the light is green, you can go now) a user experience professional should be the best and most vocal user advocate on the team, carefully balancing business goals, technical / development limitations and organizational requirements to ultimately support this new and pure focus on the user.
Following some semblance of a process and path iteratively, UX teams will build knowledge, manifest options and refine implementations together with all the other stakeholders and craftspeople in the mix. In general these steps towards a well lit path are as follows:
- Conduct user research to understand the requirements, painpoints, ethnography and psychology of the end user. You may already have a raft of input and usability drivers based on previous versions of the project or what other people are doing in similar situations. For example, if you are working for a bank, learn from your own banking experience or perhaps conversations with family and friends about how their experiences are good, bad or ugly or even awesome. These emotional insights can be golden.
- Identify aspects of the driving business strategy that can be articulated to clearly define user profiles, scenarios, and their importance to other stakeholders in order to capture all the necessary requirements and validate them.
- Seek to understand, imagine and document the various outcomes, starting with users themselves, but also with appropriate evaluation and inputs to project managers to estimate, the developers to build, marketing teams to educate and communicate, partners to evangelize, sales to sell, support teams to help out, etc...this may take the form of wireframes, documents, whiteboards, presentations, whitepapers, napkin sketches, meetings, phone calls, obsessive ranting or lucid dreams (okay, I'll stop).
- Iteratively design the functionality, interface and interaction of the various required visual components, focusing on standards (e.g. brand usage, standard iconography) and usability notions such as feedback, performance and outputs. A best practice at this time is to involve users, stay in constant dialogue with development teams and continually gain buy-in from business teams.
- Often once the iterative step is mature UX pros may come up with a well designed functional prototype and once again iteratively test it for usability flaws.
- Project Managers should now be ranting on about versioning and release dates and timelines for developement cycles, indicating their comprehension of effort and direction ;-) You may agree that it is important to document every single point observed from the initial user research to how it shaped the product and how it has been taken into account.
- Once a version is ready, we conduct more usability testing now ensuring that the test scores perfectly against the output of the initial user research findings.
- As we conduct this last round of testing we evaluate and validate the relationship between the product and its supporting materials - documentation, FAQs, How-To, Quick Stat Guides, Tips - for consistency of experience and language
- Once the product is relased, keep an eye on forums, blogs, and any kind of structured or unstructured feedback and statistical or behavioral analysis that will reflect the solutions user experience maturity and inform necessary iterations as we move forward.
- Now we post the story about our work, what we did, get our talk ready for Adobe MAX, or get the screenshots and customer quotes ready for our book ;-)
Finally I would prefer to go over this article and replace every instance of USER with the word PEOPLE, but that's another story.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Friday, April 09, 2010
iDoit with iAd. (not me personally of course)
This image on the right linked from MobileBeat article provides a more balanced view of the story than my conjecture and opinionated blast below.
Apple's mobile strategy brilliantly accomplishes what so many startups try to do - build a massive, loyal, captive market before fully monetizing every single little thing that market does - iAd confirms that this strategy remains a pretty brilliant move!
The fact that most people don't get why iAd is so brilliant makes it even more brilliant - Apple needed to get past the top of the adoption curve, move beyond fanboys into the mainstream, in fact turn a phone into a fashion accessory and status symbol (again), without an ad play in the public eye that would massively reduce credibility of the platform in the early days.
Once they had the platform at critical mass, and had locked down all the inroads, then they were able to release an at-scale ad play to further monetize the distribution. And they can now make a % of every click, impression or scene change in their own proprietary version of rich media.
This also provides another clear reason (more clear than most of the B$ and raving lunacy that's out there) why they did not want Flash on the platform - motivated app developers could have easily served up their own in-context, targeted or even DoubleClick and Yahoo! served ads over video, in-game, or within web-based RIA applications without ever clicking the Apple clock. The only players that really matter who are targeting the Apple platform today are getting bought, or soon will...
The good news is that this move will increase the credibility and overall percent spend allocated to mobile, but there will be some work to do since big advertisers/agencies will continue to favor existing formats and ad serving, auditing and reporting technology to deliver integrated campaigns (cross-media) for some time.
Apple knows this and will likely posit for the high-end of the CPM/CPA target - but in a frequently sold-out market the more floor there is (bottom pricing/wide avail) the more value they can bring as the user base becomes more addressable, and if they get their targeting (geo, gender, income, interest, behavior, spend pattern) sorted out for a captive audience then they will start to dominate (at least on their own platform).
Basically, if iPhone came with an ad platform story three years ago everyone would have cried foul. And if they had allowed other platforms in they would give up a portion of dollars beyond the platform and app that they knew (and so did everyone pretty much) would be forthcoming.
I love Apple, don't get me wrong - I love any brand that has a great user experience and works that hard to maintain it across platforms but I see cracks in the bauble that are somewhat worse and somehow seem even more dangerous than the roadscars on my MacBook Pro (but that's another story).