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…

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).

It’s a Photosynth kind of day: Synths from The Temple Bar Pub, Dublin, Ireland

PhotoSynth is the Microsoft Research / Seadragon / UWashington technology that can process a collection of photos and turn it into a scene that can be navigated in 3D.

At this year’s Siggraph conference, there’s an interesting paper from the University of Washington and Microsoft about finding more intelligent paths through collections of photos like the ones produced by PhotoSynth.
Here’s the video that accompanies that paper:

(Click for direct link to YouTube)

When I was working for Microsoft in Dublin, I experimented with what was then an internal tool for creating PhotoSynths.  I ran around Dublin taking photos of some famous places.

Two of my favourite Photosynth collections were shot in the early morning quiet at The Temple Bar Pub.  Now, with the public release of PhotoSynth, I can publish these to the web!

Temple Bar (Front Bar), Dublin, Ireland

(Click for larger view on Photosynth site)

If I could go back and shoot these again, I’d put more time into taking close-ups of objects and memorabilia of interest. Photosynth shines in scenes where the viewer is interested in navigating the scene to discover and examine points of interest.

Temple Bar (Back Bar), Dublin, Ireland

(Click for larger view on Photosynth site)

I also have Synths of Newgrange and the Liffey River which I will post when I have a chance to find the original photos.

Congratulations to the PhotoSynth team, and please send me a link if you ‘Synth something cool!

I maded you a FractLOL…

… and then I Silverlit it!

Is alternately a LOLQuilt, a ROFLMosaic, or a Deep LOL! :)

Here is the full screen version.

Click, drag, shift-click and use the mouse wheel to see that the image is made of over 10,000 LOLCats (there are 2,442 unique images here).

How this came to be?

The kittehs are from the very awesum icanhascheezburger.com which I love and will link to again because I hope they will also find this awesum and not tell me to make it go away.

The photomosaic was generated using AndreaMosaic, a utility for making fun images like this one.

The output of AndreaMosaic got processed by Deep Zoom Composer and turned into a Silverlight app.

And then uploaded to Silverlight Streaming which lets me host these kittehs on the intarwebs without bringing mai wee server to its knees (i hope i hope i hope).