Wednesday, August 6, 2008

GRANITE Lotus User Group - August 2008 Meeting

We have a great meeting coming up for our August 2008 GRANITE meeting, August 11. It is our annual Summer Outing and we will be having a buffet lunch at The Metropolitan Club in the 67th Floor of the Sears Tower here in Chicago. I would like to thank our sponsor this year, Research in Motion for helping us pay for the outing.

But before we trek out all afternoon for lunch and a wonderful view, we will have three great technical sessions at the IBM Center covering:

  • Best Practices of Blackberry Administration
  • Using SOA methodology for designing Lotus Notes applications
  • A Strategic Update on RIM's Products

    If you are in the area and would like to attend both the meeting and the buffet lunch please let us know by tomorrow since we need to get a head count for the private room.

    Here is the link to the web site about the meeting.
    GRANITE August 2008 Meeting
  • Two new end-user training courses for Lotus Notes 8

    ReCor has just released two new training courses for Lotus Notes 8 in additional to our LearningDocs for Lotus Notes 8.01 - Standard / Migration course, we now have available for download:

  • LearningDocs for Lotus Notes 8.01 - Advanced Course
  • LearningDocs for Lotus Notes 8.01 - Basic Client

    The advanced course covers topics like Quickr integration with Lotus Notes and advanced rich text editing and remote users. The new Basic client course provides detailed training on the Classic or Basic client. This course took us longer because thought it seem that there was not much differences, there were many changes to the Basic client compared to Notes 6.5 or 7.

    From the interest that our customers has expressed, there is a lot of companies that will be rolling out the Basic client since their hardware and operating system will not support the Standard client. As I mentioned before that is a lot of new features in the Notes 8 Basic client that developer can utilizes. At the April GRANITE meeting, I did a talk about applying these new features to improving the dialog box experience. I will be posting the code and presentation next week.
  • Tuesday, August 5, 2008

    Designing Software Blind

    Chris Blatnick talks in his blog about how important interface design is in making software a success. Recently I became aware of a major development project that broke many of the guidelines that we use to design interfaces.

    A major retailer started implementing a new POS software for their stores that was suppose to revolutionize their operation. You would think that they would work with store employees who will be using the POS systems to design the best solution, run test pilots to make sure that the software met the needs of the store employees, and have a detailed implementation and training plan. Answer NO NO NO. Software that are created by developers who live in a box and never get the customer (users) involved with most likely fail.

    Here are a few example of why getting users involved in the interface design is so important:

    Since the screen sizes of POS system usually are small you would think that they would be very concerned about font sizes, no. The designers decided to put as much information on one single screen as possible. The fonts were so small that even people with 20/20 vision can barely read the information. In the retail industry, some of the employees are older, retired and need bifocals or read glasses to read like myself. So in order for them to read it, they have to practically put their face against the front of the screen. Not a good image for their customers to see.

    The designers decided to use colors like blue and green together, so that individuals who are color-blinded cannot distinguish between different parts of the screen. How much did that increase errors?

    The developers decided to use words that were not commonly used in the United States so that the average store employee would not understand what they are talking about. I would not be surprised if the software was outsourced overseas.

    The screen is populated with dozens of tabs so that users had a hard time finding things. At least it is not as bad on the one that Chris showed at Lotusphere 2008.

    Instead of having trained technicans install the software, they had store employees who have minimum knowledge of computers install the software.

    They forgot to train the help desk on the new system so when the store employees had problems and call they did not know how to response.

    They did not train the employee how to use the new POS software. I guess they will learn by trial and error.

    So as a result, the implement has been a huge drain on the stores and on their resources. Lesson learned hopefully, software has no value unless users can use it. It might be built using the latest and coolest technology, but if you do not have users participate in the development process it will be just a book end and at the very best a bad one. Good planning and training would also help.