User Experience Thinking: Project Orange

Adventures in Teenbed-Ageroom: Grandad gives Jimmy a lift up

A reasonable amount of buzz has be flowing around today about Project Orange.

Project Orange is described by the WinFS Team Blog at:

The killer app for getting users organised

Project Orange is about the creation of an application that demonstrates the reason why WinFS is the replacement for the file system. But more than that, why it’s something that truly liberates data from the constraints of the application.

The file system has been a mainstay of the corporate and desktop infrastructure for a very long time now. If it’s going to change then the change can’t be about the technology. The change has to be about the user experience, enabling them to do things they have never done before in ways that feel more familiar than the file system today.

The WinFS iWish Video is quite interesting to watch – not a ‘file’ in sight.

Tags: WinFS, Project Orange,   

User Experience Thinking: Flickr Upgrade

Adventures in Teenbed-Ageroom: Jimmy scales the mighty obolisk called Guitar

Flickr has been upgraded.

Did they add in loads of new features to make me happy – not really.

Did they sit back and think about how people use the service and make me smile with the way they have thought about the user experience – oh yes .

FlickBlog has the details.

Loads of thing which I used to have to do through two pages I can now do through a drop down. It’s still two clicks of the mouse, but it’s only one page load. Much, much nicer .

“Your Photos” is now dramatically cleaner and shows more of what the service is really about – photos .

They have put the number of photos and the number of views near the top of the screen which is just catering to our megalomaniac tendencies – but I’m sure I’m not the only one that spends a lot of time looking at these numbers .

Moving the product away from being a ‘beta’ product also makes me feel happy. It was only a title, but it made me feel uncomfortable especially when I’m paying for it. Who buys a beta product?

The 10% Myth

Time to cut the grass Grandad

The is a myth that surrounds the technology arena. The latest time that I read it was in a Boston Globe article on Notes upgrades.

According to The Boston Globe:

Bisconti said admitted that the Lotus office software won’t have all the advanced features of Microsoft Office, but most people rarely use these tools, he added. ”Most customers tell us that 90 percent of my users use 10 percent of the functions,” Bisconti said.

I’d love to be able to say that I have managed to do the research and find out where this myth came from but I can’t. I used to know, but it’s one of those examples where search has a long way to go. If my memory serves me correctly it was some research done by the Microsoft User Interface team and started them down the road of hiding functions that people weren’t using so they could get to the ones they were using quicker.

My experience on the functions that people use is this. Users use a variable amount of the capabilities of large applications like Microsoft Word and most of them only use a small amount of the capabilities that are available to them. But the capabilities they use are different to the capabilities used by the person sat in the cubicle next to them. The way that they do something is different to the way I do it. Adding together all of the capabilities results in a set of capabilities that are all used by someone.

My other experience is that the 10% of users – the power users not in the 90% – use significantly more of the capabilities. It is these individuals who make the other 90% productive and keep encouraging them to increase their productivity.

The Microsoft Office 12/2007 team chose to change the user interface for all of the Office applications because a huge majority of the capabilities they were asked for in Office 12 already existed in Office 2003. It was just that people didn’t know where to find them.

User Experience Thinking: Office Capabilities in Notes

Think the slide might be a bit big

Ed Brill points to a document in The Boston Globe which is reporting on the inclusion of Office capabilities and ODF into Notes.

How is this improving the experience of the user of the system?

Well I’m not sure exactly, and that’s my problem with the premise that it’s a good idea. If this is going to be a good idea it has to make the experience of the end-user better.

I don’t see anyone ditching Office altogether in favour of an ODF alternative at this point. The problem is the inter-connects between individuals and organisations. Microsoft Office is the standard, because Microsoft Office is the standard.

If anyone creates a Word document they can be confident that whoever they send it to will be able to read it, very few people only communicate within an organisation (where a change of standard is relatively simple). As soon as the communication leaves an organisation you need to go for the highest level of confidence which is Word, Excel, PowerPoint. The next level of confidence is achieved by using Acrobat, but that has certain restrictions that sometimes are a benefit and sometimes not (the ability to edit).

The highest level of confidence equates to the best user experience. using ODF may be free, but it probably gives the person receiving the communication a problem giving them a poor user experience.

Organisations could choose to dual-skill their staff in using two different editors but that’s not a great user experience either.