Saturday, December 15, 2007

December GRANITE Lotus User Group

On a lighter note, the December 2007 GRANITE Lotus User Group meeting was a success. We had about 30 people in our meeting. IBM covered the Lotus Notes Traveler with Mobile Connect, Lotus Symphony and the Symphony Toolkit plus what coming in Lotus Notes 8.01. I also presented how you can create composite application for the classic Lotus Notes client (Lotus Notes 8 Basic, 7, 6.5, 6, and 5) which I will outline in detail on my blog in the coming week. I would like to thank all our presenters and sponsors. With special thanks to IBM for letting us host the meetings that their beautiful downtown facility here in Chicago. We had a very successful year with over 17 presentation from members, vendors, and IBM. Sadly, this was my last year for organizing the meeting as Vice President. I have been elected as President of GRANITE and hand off the duties of Vice President to Ben Ordonez of Gamma Partners.

Interface from Hell

Regardless of technology if an interface is poorly designed, the usability of the technology is compromised. I do not care if it was built using Commodore Basic, Web 1.0, or Web 2.0, if it is poorly designed people are not going to use it or will get extremely frustrated. Case in point. I use online banking from by bank for the past year and have tolerated their stupid interface because of its convenience. However, this week's problems really broke the camel's back. I discovered with horror that my online monthly payment for a key payment was not sent. So I had to immediately call the company to issue a payment and apologize for not getting the payment to them on time. After fixing that problem, I started investigating why this payment did not go through. The account was active and set to monthly payments as I had set. Everything seem to be fine. There was plenty of funds in the checking account. It said click here to learn why the payment was not made. So I did and the results was blank, of course I could have guessed that. I tried to get an online chat with customer service, but of course their site was down. I finally contacted my personal banker and she got hold of a live person. The online banking person said that the monthly payments was turned off and had expired which I could not understand since I just set it a couple of months ago. She said that it expired and the information was available online. I was skeptical. So I search for over an hour and there was no information indicating that the payment had expired. There was no information on the status of the account at all. In fact, I discovered there was no interface even to change your payment from a monthly payment to a one time payment if I needed to. Also there is no interface that display all the key information in one location, you had to hunt through 4 levels of screens in order to find one piece of information and go back to the home page and go through another multi-level set of screens to get another piece of information. The only way I could find to change an account from monthly payment to a one-time payment was to delete the account and reenter the information. How stupid!!!

As a results, the bank now has one pissed off customer. A piece of software can be the most powerful application on the planet, but if it is going to be used by humans, companies must invest into human interface design. If not, it is just a bunch of 0s and 1s.

Monday, December 3, 2007

GRANITE Lotus User Group Presentation

If you can make it, please come and join us at the December 2007 GRANITE Lotus Notes User Group next Monday, December 10. This is our special holiday meeting. We are fortunate enough to have IBM give a presentation on the up and coming IBM Lotus Symphony, IBM Lotus Traveler, IBM Lotus Notes 8.01, and IBM Mobile Connect. For more information go to GRANITE.

Also, I will be presenting and demonstrating some of the different techniques you can use to create composite applications on older Notes clients to improve the end-user experience. I will demonstrate it on the Notes 8 basic and 7/6.5/6. I was hoping to do it even on the Notes 5 client but I cannot find my CDs. After the presentation next week, I will post the techniques here on my blog.