Category Archives: UX

Project Management == Communication

NoSurprisesSadly reminded of the importance of communication in project management. Establish written dates and milestones. Communicate them. Get buy-in. Yes, I’ve recently been involved in a project where some of this was missed. Not my project. No even my company’s project. Many people will be negatively impacted.What’s the point of project management? How about “No Negative Surprises?

Flashback Friday: Peroogle

FlashbackFriday150From February 2007, referencing the 2005 installation of the Google Mini. What a great device it was in it’s day.

 

The Original Peroogle Press Release

It’s been almost two years since we brought in our Google Mini, aka “Peroogle.”  Just for fun, I thought you might like to see the way we first introduced it to the staff.  Note, this draft was distributed to the staff on April 1, 2005.  When we did the announcement, we all wore Google shirts and Google hats, and we gave out all kinds of Google goodies.

peroogle05

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Press release (draft, not for distribution)

Perimeter Church
9500 Medlock Bridge Road
Duluth, GA  30097

Press contact:
Randy Renbarger
678-405-2xx2
RandyR @ Perimeter.org

April 1, 2005, DULUTH, GA.  Perimeter Church, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America, is pleased to announce its intent to purchase Internet search engine giant Google™. Over the last several weeks, Perimeter Church has been positioning itself to hold a controlling interest in the ubiquitous search site, and plans to immediately integrate the company into its functions as a church.

“This makes sense right now. We feel strongly that discipleship drives the life of the church, and our pastor’s T.E.A.M.S. Paradigm begins with Truth. In order to get a larger grasp of truth, we needed to get a larger grasp on all the available information,” explained Randy Schlichting during the press conference. “Google’s corporate goal has been to put all information on the web. That is going to align perfectly with our approach to discipleship.”

In the conference to announce the buyout, a large, complex chart (approximately 12ft x 30ft) was presented to explain how the church and search engine will function together. Amid complaints that the 8 point type was too small, CIO Scott Hamilton said, “Just look at the chart… Its all right there. C’mon, just look at it. It’s easy. It should be intuitively obvious, if not blatantly evident, to even the most casual observer.”

“Our corporate motto is ‘don’t be evil’.” said Google co-founder Larry Page. “We felt like a church would be an ideal place to mesh our corporate philosophy with our work environment. Though we aren’t crazy about the whole ‘changing your voicemail greeting every day’ thing.”

“While reading Google’s corporate philosophy I was astonished at the similarity to our own. I thought I was reading ours!” said John Purcell, Perimeter’s Staff Director. Google’s well known philosophy is perhaps best described in their “Ten Things” publication.

Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, and president of Technology, spoke highly of the relationships within the new organization. “As you know, the name Google comes from the mathematical term googol. When we learned of Randy Pope being a math major, we knew we had a match made, well, in heaven!”

When asked about how a public company and a non-profit religious organization could possibly be combined, Gordon Moore, Operations Director for Perimeter Church, said “Current Google shareholders have expressed excitement about the ability to convert their investments into charitable donations. We think this will be far easier than our usual end of year stock contribution process.”

One of the first initiatives of the new company will be the first ever webcast of the Inquirer’s and Membership seminars. Randy Pope, founding pastor of Perimeter said, “This is what I’ve been wanting to do for years. Finally we can take full advantage of technology.” Actually, much of what the new company will do comes from ideas explained in Randy’s latest book “The Prevailing Internet Church” (subtitled “amazing discoveries from my personal blog”) Randy has invited church members, stockholders, Perimeter staff, and Google employees, to send any questions or concerns to his personal email address, JustRandy @ Perimeter.org.

Why the name Peroogle? Besides the natural blending of the names of the original organizations, Randy Pope, John Purcell, Gordon Moore, Bob Carter, Matt Brinkley, Daniel Case, and Don Sawtelle all responded together “we like three syllable names.” Randy Schlichting had proposed the alternative name, Peri-oogle, but the Perimeter Management team collectively decided to stay with what works — three syllables it is. Don Sawtelle declined comment when asked about rumors that legal name-change paperwork had been prepared for employees who’s names did not fit the three syllable standard.

Peroogle is also the name of the first product of the combined organization. Peroogle will bring order and “findability” to the vast chaos of documents otherwise known as Perimeter’s Published drive. Now, Perimeter staff members will be able to quickly find those long lost documents. “The days of writing the same documents, over and over, are finally behind us. Never again will I need piles of paper on my desk!” said Jim LaBarr, Perimeter’s training manager and well known collector of paper resources

Please stay tuned for further information about this exciting merger of Perimeter and Google™.

Peroogle – the merger of Perimeter Church and Google Inc.

“if you don’t find us, we’ll find you”

Google information may be found on the web at http://www.google.com/. Perimeter information is available from http://www.perimeter.org/

Flashback Friday: Trusted, Friendly, Used

FlashbackFriday150Flashback Friday. This post first appeared July 23, 2007. Thinking about how much this coincides with A Powerful User Experience.

Revisiting the “Software Acceptance Triangle”

Back in Nov 2005, I posted about key needs of a ChMS.  At that time, I used the terms Trusted, Used, and Easy.

Well, “Easy” wasn’t the right word.  A lot of products miss the “easy” description, but are still very usable.  Products need to be appropriate to what’s expected.  What’s a better word?  After tinkering with intuitive, simple, understandable, discoverable, natural, and probably other words, Stephen Wareham through out the word “familiar” on ChMS discuss.  I’m still not sure that’s a perfect word, but I like it.  However, I’m going to use “friendly” until something else comes along.  If you like “familiar” better, I’m find with that!

Triangle So, now the three terms are 1) Friendly, 2) Trusted, and 3) Used.  I don’t know how many times I’ve drawn a triangle on a white-board explaining the relationship of these three, and started calling it the “Iron Triangle.”  Well… other people have used that term, so once again, I needed something else.  For now, I’m going with the “software acceptance triangle.”  Yeah…probably not going to win any marketing awards for that name!  (I’m open for suggestions)

The concept of this triangle remains the same: if you don’t have all three sides, you will probably have an acceptance problem (at best), or possibly a complete failure of adoption.

Now, the question: does one side need to come first?  And, more to think about, is software acceptance a triangle, or are there more than three parts?

The Value of a Real Book

BookWithNotesI’m happy with the transition to paperless. I like reading books on a tablet. But sometimes there is something about a real book; the feel, even the smell, and the different ways a real book can be marked-up. Or add sticky notes.

I’ve disposed of a lot of my old books in the past few years. I will probably never read any of them again. And I miss them!

 

Passwords or Pass-Phrases?

Revisiting password ideas, there is a lot of suggestion that passwords are dead, old fashioned, going away, or just don’t work. Soon we’ll have bio devices that take their place and are hack proof? OK, let me know when that happens! Especially if they are common-place and affordable (and actually work).

PassPhraseMany people have moved to the idea of pass-phrases. I’m for that! Sort of fits the original ideas. Just don’t forget the basics!

One strong suggestion in pass-phrases: have at least one non-dictionary word. Pass phrases made from a small number of dictionary words are actually slightly more prone to automated attacks than traditional passwords. Or, use our earlier ideas of mixing in a a number that triggers a sequence of special characters. And even though a pass phrase meets the longer is better requirement, you still want to be unique for each site.

Pass-phrases that are mixed case, have numbers, or special characters, are better than the ones that don’t. Arguable: leave the spaces out and use mixed case to make the password better. Example: 9AugustIsMyBirthday (which I still think is better than MyBirthdayIsAugust9 although since I’ve now published my birthday, neither is a good phrase!)

I use passwords AND pass-phrases. Ahead, pass-phrases will become my standard, I do believe, if we don’t find a trustworthy and affordable biometric solution.

Last Updated: 9/30/2014
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All articles in this series on Passwords:

 

 

Network Documentation

NetworkDocOld learning, revisited. Your documentation should be WHERE you need it! Case in point, critical ports on a network switch, critical links in a patch panel, put labels in place so there’s no guesswork, no need to search out documentation. Haven’t done this yet, but really tempted to have a 3×5 card taped near the key area that has “things you really ought to know” written on it.

Does this replace the need to document elsewhere? Well, it is hard to read those labels on the front of the switch when you’re hundreds of miles away remotely connected. 🙁

LabelsOnSwitches

Flashback Friday: Blinkey Lights

FlashbackFriday150Flashback Friday. This post first appeared October 20, 2006.

 

Blinking Lights

I can’t believe I never posted this before, but I went to reference it and couldn’t find it.  So, if you’ve heard this before, I’m sorry for being repetitious.

BlinkyLightsSometime a number of years back, about the time we were getting ITDiscuss kicked off, a few of us were sitting around a table talking about network monitoring (bandwidth issues) and what tools we used.  There was a lot of silence.  Then somebody (may have been me) sheepishly admitted “I watch the blinkey lights.”  Kind of similar to the Roundtable discussion on network monitoring regarding “a lot of calls tells you things are really bad,” we sort of all came to the same conclusion — we look at our switches and use a highly scientific method of determining network traffic:

  1. If the lights are all off, that’s bad
  2. If the lights are on solid, that’s also bad
  3. If the lights are blinking, not too fast, not too slow, then that’s good

Do you use the “blinkey light” method of monitoring your network utilization?

 

PS: Would you spell it blinky or blinkey?

User Advocacy, or Action Transformation Methodology

Action Transformation Methodology. Isn’t Transformation what we want when it comes to equipping staff? (Isn’t it sort of the goal in almost everything in life?) Action Transformation Methodology is not a term I came up with. In searching out training concepts I stumbled upon this phrase on the site of Sherry Bevan Consulting, and instantly liked it. Legal Service Desk Consulting — now that’s a field quite foreign to me, not to mention that the site is in the UK. Still, interesting overlap with training, learning, user experience, and lots of other phrases that I’m trying to condense into one concept.

ButterflyHere’s my “batch of words,” that apply to that broad area of helping people get stuff done (more enjoyably):
Instructional Design, User Training, User Experience, User Interface, Software Design, “Trusted, Friendly, Used,” “Easy, Enjoyable, Effective,” “natural extension of the individual,” User Advocacy, “Training vs. Learning vs. Using,” Proficiency, Corporate Learning, User Engagement, Employee Engagement, Skill Transfer, Knowledge Transfer, Simplify, Clarify, Discovery, Involve*, and finally, the Escalator idea.

  • Regarding “Involve,” here’s a quote that speaks well to the idea:

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
–Benjamin Franklin

 I’m still looking forward to that day when products, especially software, will be so intuitive, so natural, that training will become a lost word (somehow, I don’t think 2014 will be that year). Until that happens, how do we improve the user engagement process? Action Transformation sure seems like a nice phrase. Got a better one?

Now, what’s a job title that goes with that? User Advocate sure comes to mind.

 

User Enablement

Think about something you could do for your users (Staff, Employees, even friends and family). Something that is there for them when they want it. Something that is easy to interact with, without having to wait. And something where you can tell your progress instantly, without any effort. How would you like something like that as a learning model?

Well, darn, I don’t have that solution. But isn’t that the sort of thing we want to provide for others, through training and experience?

  1. Ready for you whenever you are ready
  2. Easy to engage with (what’s more frustrating that needing to be trained on how to be trained?!)
  3. Clear progress, moment by moment

EscalatorThis post is inspired by a recent post by Seth Godin titled Escalators, elevators and the ferry. Yes, I’m going way off his original topic but the application jumped out at me. We want learning to be more like escalators. And yes, I know, some people don’t like escalators. OK, it’s not a perfect analogy.

Training vs. User Experience, Part 2

ThinkingContinuing from the previous post, still just thinking out loud…

Maybe training isn’t the real issue. After all, most training fails! Designers try their best. Developers try their best. Trainers try their best. So do users. But something isn’t working. What if we went a slightly different route that doesn’t focus on any person or team in that process, but instead focuses on the final outcome. For the moment I’m picking the term User Advocate. What if ALL of us where User Advocates for the end user. Are we all working toward things that are those natural extensions of the individual?

User Advocate? How does that sound? If designers, developers, trainers,  implementers, and all the rest of us, were really advocates for the users, where might we end up?