Four Perspectives on Delivering ‘Return on Experience’ Follow-up Notes

And now, as promised, the link-laced follow-up to this week’s “Four Perspectives on delivering ‘Return on Experience.'”

Our UX Gurus on the panel were:

and in addition to their insights on Wednesday night, they’ve kindly helped me compile these links.
(If you want to contact any member of the panel, they’re first-initial last-name at infusion.com, or ping me.)

Introductions

The panel began by reflecting on the masochistic teapot made famous by Donald Norman on the cover of his book The Psychology of Everyday Things, to remind us that in the software industry, what we create for our clients often becomes an everyday thing.

Are we making things that are functional but masochistic like this teapot?

what's "Return on Experience"?

The panel then weighed in on Deborah Adler’s redesign of the Target Rx medicine bottles, which was bravely showcased by Microsoft as a UX case study from another industry during the second day keynote at Mix09.

It was a story arc that highlighted the many elements of ‘return on experience’ – everything from safety and customer satisfaction, through brand awareness and driving revenue.

Co-Exist?

Then we reflected on the co-existence of the Development and Design lifecycles. There were varying opinions on where each person on the panel feels squeezed for time and resources in the cycle.

Ernie’s more thorough PM’s Gantt chart (very much not shown here) was a sobering dose of reality. We considered techniques for determining the point at which the value to the client diminishes when you add more time and resources.

New Tools, New Processes

I did a Sketchflow demo. We created an interactive prototype. It had the “right level of fidelity” and the panel remarked that the “sketchy” look helps manage client expectations.

At a high level – there was love. Sketchflow should change our software development lifecycle.

But some easy things were hard. We integrated sample data (and Susan quite fairly called me on it when I talked about a designer “databinding” to “sample data.”  (If Blend wants databinding to be [the designer’s] job then the designer says “but it’s not my job!”). We looked at editing a data template (for a Listbox full of items) and everyone agreed this experience was currently way too hard without grokking a number of Blend and XAML-specific concepts.

Especially valuable is Sketchflow’s ability to solicit feedback from clients with standalone prototypes. Ernie remarked that it was when he saw Sketchflow run “live” as a  standalone prototype that he saw how valuable it could be. Integrated client feedback was a big win. We also saw how it can generate Word doc summaries, and all eyes lit up.

We remarked on its incredible potential, which it’s not quite living up to just yet. Earlier on in the presentation, we’d hit upon this theme that a good user experience should never make the user “feel stupid” – but for new users Sketchflow can unfortunately make some of its target audience feel stupid.

For a v1, though – wow – we all saw the value, and deeply, desperately want it to be awesome. Ernie said he’d go back to his team the next day and tell them to start using it.

Roles and Expectations

After the break, we talked about roles and expectations. Given the changing tools and processes, we wondered what should be expected of different roles.

We noted how “designer” is a “suitcase word” that carries many different meanings. Susan saw all these “people” in the Venn Diagram and just wanted it to be clear that in real life, it’s often all a single, multi-faceted “person.”

(Design) Surface

Most of the panel are, or have been, involved in Infusion’s Surface projects, so we took a moment to talk about design and user experience as they relate to that platform.

Susan remarked that Surface development demands UX design skills “to the extreme.”

The Surface design challenges include: attracting the attention of casual users, encouraging users to overcome the novelty of simultaneous multi-user interaction, and embracing the lack of an “up” direction. It’s “hyper-real,” and there is a need to consider the affordances of design elements used on this multi-user touch-table application.

What can we learn from games?

We had Dan Wilcox from the games industry, so we also asked him what we can learn from the gaming world if we’re trying to build line-of-business apps instead.

Dan agreed that a significant challenge is showing users what they can interact with, and how. That “affordances” thing again. He talked about how the games industry has improved in its ability to guide people through 3D landscapes, and perhaps similar cues could influence navigation through user interfaces. He gave examples of where games are blurring the boundaries between user interface and game world.

The Future of User Experience

Then we talked about the future, because that’s always fun.

But the twist here was: what kind of UX considerations will come into play as we design for new kinds of interactivity?

We ran out of time because we wanted to run down the street to see the Surface app before Rogers closed, but now you have time to explore, and add your own thoughts below…

Four Perspectives on Delivering ‘Return on Experience’

Metro Toronto. NET Users Group
Meeting, 16 sept, 6PM, Bloor East, Toronto (click)

I’m looking forward to the conversation at this Metro Toronto .NET Users Group meeting:

Four Perspectives on Delivering
‘Return on Experience’

We’ve heard a lot recently, from Microsoft and others, about the importance of user experience (UX) and delivering ‘return on experience’ to clients. Tools like Sketchflow for prototyping, Expression Blend for visual design, and frameworks like Silverlight and WPF, are designed to change the way we deliver software projects that incorporate rich and intuitive user experiences.

The reality, of course, is that there are many stakeholders with different perspectives on this process. This evening, let’s talk about how things really work during project delivery “in the wild.”

We’ll discuss the process of enhancing user experience from four perspectives: a designer, a developer team lead, a client, and an account manager.  (not personas, but thoughts from real people who have performed or are performing these roles).   Their perspectives will begin a conversation about the tools and processes, challenges and rewards of delivering ‘return on experience.’

(September 16th, Manulife at 200 Bloor East, Toronto, 6:00PM)

[Update, 17 Sept – I really enjoyed last night – and a huge thanks to all 4 members of the panel (Susan Greenfield, Ernie Taylor, Daniel Cox, Bill Baldasti) and everyone who came out. I will post slides and follow-up either later today or early tomorrow!]

TechDays 2008: Silverlight Samurai Skills

Tech Days CanadaThanks to everyone who came out to my Silverlight Samurai Skills presentations this morning in Toronto, and to Microsoft Canada for inviting me to present at this event. When the Canadian team does events, they do them really big – and really well!

I hope you found the sessions useful and engaging.  They certainly provided a lap around a whole lot of the core features in Silverlight 2. I promised to provide code and links so you can follow-up, get connected with the community, and find out more.

The Code

As promised, click here for all the source code from the presentation, including start, end-of-part-one, and completed versions. Import the .vssettings file into Visual Studio to get the code snippets.

I’ll post the slide decks soon – I’ve been asked to hold off a little bit on those.

The Links

Note – this list is far from exhaustive, it just points to some things I’ve found really helpful.

Silverlight.NET – Get Started section has all the bits you need

Additional Silverlight Controls and Themes

Silverlight Toolkit (Microsoft, MS-PL)
Silverlight Contrib
(Third-party, MS-PL)
see also
Blacklight, which comes from the Patient Journey Demonstrator

Layout

Silverlight Layout Fundamentals (DevDave)

VisualStateManager, Parts and State Model

Parts and States Model with VSM (scorbs, 4-part series)

IsolatedStorage

IsolatedStorage quickstart (wildermuth)

Browser DOM Integration

Forward-Back Browser Integration (webjak)

More Links [update 12 Nov]

Qixing and Laurent have also put together a FAQ based on feedback from the Montreal version of Silverlight Samurai Skills.

The P.S.

My consultancy, Carrington Technologies, specializes in Silverlight and WPF consulting and training, and we’re based out of Toronto. If you’re interested in finding out more, please drop me a line via the contact page, or through rob at robburke dot not.

p.p.s. Silverlight Streaming has now been updated to Silverlight 2 RTW, so the Deep Zoom FractLOL should now work. [Updated November 2nd]

final p.s. [update] I am greatly indebted to Microsoft’s Mark Rideout, whose excellent TechEd 2008 session on Silverlight 2 formed the basis for the core demo I used in these sessions. I’ve updated his demo to highlight some of the features added to Silverlight 2 between Beta 2 and RTW (including additions to the IsolatedStorage API, and an allegedly more compliant browser history implementation).

LOL+Arts Exhibit in San Francisco

I’m delighted to hear that the FractLOL, which blends Deep Zoom and LOLCats into a mosaic of hilarity, is going to be exhibited at LOL+Arts, a cross-media exhibit of artworks inspired by the LOLCat phenomenon. The exhibit will be open in San Francisco on October 23rd, and will benefit Partners in Reading and their work on adult literacy.

To celebrate, I’ve updated the FractLOL to Silverlight 2 RTW, and fully intend to subject you to it again. Here. Right now.

Note: Silverlight Streaming has now been fully updated to Silverlight RTW. The FractLOL can be viewed on the Mac or PC, so long as you install the lightweight Silverlight 2 plug-in from Microsoft. [Updated on the 2nd of November.]

I’ve also updated the FractLOL page on this blog with a bit more information about how this came to be.

Here are links to the LOL+Arts Site, curator Marianne Goldin’s blog, and the announcement on icanhascheezburger.com.

I love this image they used to promote the event on icanhascheezburger, and wish I had a high-res version for my desktop wallpaper:

OMG Fulla Starz

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few months, it’s that if you want to drive traffic to your blog, technical articles can be pretty good, but you should really just save yourself the time and energy and just add cats.

LOLCats, akshuly.