13 October 2009

Google Wave: First thoughts…

Filed under: Computers,Technology

I got my invite to Google Wave today and have been playing with it a bit. So far, I have to say, it’s cool. I don’t really know if it will “be the next email” or even the replacement for it, but I can see a use for it: the end of the endless thread of long emails.

In business, it’s pretty common for an email to get passed from person to person, add another person, put in some more information, pass it back to someone else, and repeat. This leads to a HUGE amount of information that you may or may not need to know, as you part of it may be at the beginning, or worse, tucked somewhere in the middle of the conversation. This is where Google Wave will excel.

The neat thing about the Wave is the ability to “step into” the conversation at any point and play it back. You can roll back the conversation to any point and see what happened, with who, and when.

So, overall, I think it’s going to be a good product. It’s still a little buggy (crashed a bit on me in Firefox, but not Chrome, go figure), but I’m sure they’re working on it en masse.

More to come.

1 October 2009

A passion for User Experience…

Filed under: Ponderings,Work

I was talking to a friend of mine today I’ve not talked to in a long time and the subject of what I do came up. Now, after all these years, I’m used to having to explain what I do to people. It’s just a by-product of the profession. There’s lots of joke names for what I do, “Bubble/Line Coordinator” is one of my personal favorites, but my term of choice for what I do comes from one of my early mentors in the field: I make software applications (for the Web) that are powerful but easy to use.

It sounds simple, and sometimes it is, but most of the time it’s a deeply challenging, and therefore rewarding, thing to do.

My grandfather used to say “the first time you hit a golf ball correctly, you’ll be hooked on the game for life” (he was right, by the way). Working in User Experience is just like that. The first time you hear from a user “wow, that was so easy”, you’ll be hooked. It was like that for me.

It wasn’t anything glamorous, just an updated setup process for an application to manage a Microsoft Exchange-based product that involved some pretty deep concepts (from MX Records to MobileMail and BlackBerry options). I worked on it for a long time, and finally came to a flow that I thought worked well. When it was tested on users it received high marks, and one of the comments was “wow, that was easy”.

Sure, the design answered the requirements (and increased activations by over 60%, which looked good on my annual review), but what meant the most to me was that one user’s comment.

That was my golf ball, and I hit it correctly. I’m hooked on Usability for life.

26 September 2009

Inspiration

Filed under: Ponderings,Work

I made this and it hangs in my office. It inspires me every day. I hope it inspires you too.

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