Designing the User Experience for Lotus Notes andSametime
There has been a lot of confusion over two new features in Hannover: Recent Contacts and Collaboration History.
Recent Contacts is a dynamic view within the Contacts application. This new view is a list of the people you have e-mailed, of people that have sent you e-mail, and of people that you have chatted with. The algorithm used to determine this view counts frequency as well as recency.
Collaboration History is accessed from the context menu. This is a window that lists all the exchanges you've had with a person. The list could contain e-mails, meetings, and chats.
Picking this menu item gives you a list like this:
We have received feedback that users are getting these two featuresconfused. So we're considering changing the term "Recent Contacts" to"Top Contacts." (Like a Myspace Top Eight)
We're also entertaining newterms for "Collaboration History" ( "Recent Collaborations" is oneyou might already seen in earlier builds).
Please let us know what you think. [Read More]
Mary_Beth 110000PF38 Tags:  user-research customer usersfirst customer-feedback 10 Comments 1,732 Visits
Hi. I'm Merry Morse. I am part of the UX team and manage the Users First customer partner program. We created Users First a year ago to fill a big gap - the UX team had not been getting out and seeing our users in their work environments. Without this first-hand exposure, we can't fully understand the "user experience." The good news is that we've seen more customers in the past year than in the past ten. Through our visits, usability sessions, and roundtable discussions, we've gotten to know people in all sorts of roles who take our software to the limit to get their jobs done and use it in ways we can't imagine on our own. Working with customers as we design our products is having a huge impact. And, the more people we talk to, the more common themes emerge. That's what we need to be able to design and build what you need.
While Mary Beth is basking in the Hawaiin sun. I'll take the opportunity as a guest blogger to share some snapshots of people we've met in our travels. All names will be fictitious, but all entries will be about real customers and partners, their goals, and the challenges they face. You'll meet non-technical business users, IT administrators, and developers.
Our first customer is Joe. He's the collaboration manager for MedCareUS, a healthcare organization with over 150,000 employees, serving several million members. Joe's goal over the next two years is to plan and implement the MedCareUS collaboration strategy (a somewhat daunting task!). A big part of that is document management, with these capabilities:
Joe described collaboration at MedCareUS. He said, "It's daily life. It's everything we do - from writing a simple email to a formal white paper to writing research notes for new medicine we develop, it's doctor-patient exchange, it's the whole process. To initiate acollaboration, someone generates an idea or comes up with a response toa request. Then they do some research, write down some thoughts,collect artifacts of data and eventually share that with others. Thenthe real collaboration kicks in. Right now, email is the hub of thatcollaboration, but it goes beyond that very quickly. If you and I aresharing ideas for something that will become a project, we need tomaintain that data, store it for future use, share it with others, andbring other people in and out of that collaborative experience. Rightnow we use several tools for that, which is very confusing for endusers. If I'm a researcher looking for cure for a disease, I'd use phone, fax,and email. I’d write a 15-page Word document of initial findings andsend it to a few others for review. Or, I’d walk the paper over tosomeone to read it. I‘d collect comments in email, expand the Worddocument until it becomes a 100-page thesis. I’d then convert it to PDFand put in a document store. Domiono.Doc used to be our standard fordoc management, but we now have no standard and are looking for one."
"For a long time, the IT division was not listening to the business. We are starting to now. End users are pushing what we want to do 2 - 3 years ahead of where we are. The medical staff wants and expects high-quality, inexpensive, audio-video available worldwide in every room they walk into. The majority of the medical staff don't carry laptops or PDAs. They use a shared machine for email, and do real-time collaboration on the other side of world or in the next room. They want to be able to show what they’re doing in surgery. If they show a knee operation, they want a camera in the operating room, but they might also have a surgeon in NY giveing instructions realtime while surgery is going on across the country. They don't want to keep the patient under sedation while they fax or email things because that’s a high risk. They want and need this to be highly reliable, high quality, and with high ease of use." Twenty % of their staff are medical professionals (their bread and butter). Eighty % iare the business staff that supports the medical staff, and many like mobility. It costs four times as much per year to keep a user at a desk than working at home. As Joes says, "There’s a huge benefit to letting people work at home and we need to support that."
Joe worries that computers are too confusing and overly complicated for end users. "The big joke is, 'Wasn't the computer supposed to make life easier so we have more time with family and friends? When do we get that? In 3.0?' There's usually so much stuff shoved in front of user that they just don't use it. People say, 'I just want to get my email, send a document, see if someone reviewed it. That's all I need.' Other than that they'll go to a web site and search for something, then leave and go do something else.”
The medical staff doesn't earn money spending time with a computer, they earn money spending time with people. They would like a tool that lets a doctor walks into a room for an exam and their badge logs them in. They type in a patient record and all the information comes up. When they go into an exam they want to do 2 or 3 mouse clicks - no more. They have 15 minutes for each patient and are often double booked. As Joe puts it, "If they have to spend 6 minutes logging into the computer and get their information, it’s the whole appointment."
Mail size and attachments are an issue. They're trying to train users not to send attachments and instead to use a teamroom and have discussion threads and send links to it. But that's too many steps for most users. You have to go to another db, create a new document, attach it, add information, save it, go to Edit Copy as doc link, go back to the email and paste that in. Doctors and nurses say, “No, I'm just going to forward the email. You fix the network and storage problems.” They want to make an Action button in email that says "Start Collaboration," so ideally you could start the collaboration in the Word document instead of having to make it an attachment. You should be able to notify people, have the document put somewhere easy to find, in-line edits, version control - and it needs to be easy for the user. Right now, technology does everything, but it doesn't do it well yet.
What changes would make the biggest difference to MedCareUS? Joe is not sure yet. He needs access to more business users. He laid out a collaboration roadmap, but it’s based on his knowledge of Lotus and IBM and collaboration in general. It’s based on a generic path, which is not necessarily the correct path. They plan to use the next few months to get real usecases. They will talk to business units to find out what they cando from the collaboration standpoint to make their lives better:whether that means to remove software, give them more software, or makethe current software work better. Joe says:
So, what about Joe's situation? Does any of it sound familiar in your line of business?
Have you solved any of the challenges he brings up?
Would anyone be interested in being interviewed for a customer snapshot?
All comments welcome.
This is a feature that has been much requested, but unfortunately is slated for post 8.0. However, we wanted to get some early feedback on it. Thanks to Noy Wanderski for her design.
The design is to add a quota idicator to the top of the navigator:
The quota control can be expanded or collapsed.
So, our questions are:
Please let us know your thoughts.
Chris Reckling and I gave a talk entitled "Designing a world-class user experience for IBM Lotus Notes" at Lotushere 2 weeks ago, and since I extolled the virtues of being able to easily export it to a pdf file in my last post, I figured I should post the actual .pdf so that those of you who did not attend can take a look at it.
While Chris and I gave the talk, it represents the efforts of a team of visual designers, interaction desginers, and usability professionals.
ID102 is our talk.
We are trying to make the best possible use of every pixel of screen real estate in Notes 8. To that end, we are considering removing the + and - signs from the tree control that Samantha will see in the Navigator (app devs call it the outline view).
For example, do you think it's acceptable to have the following set of nested folders without a + to indicate which folders are nested?
(Note: We have tried the idea of superimposing a + on top of a folder that has nested folders but it appears there is a technical limitation where either all folders get the superimposed + or none of them do.)
Or, for usability reasons (that is, so that Samantha knows she has nested folders), shoudl we sacrifice the pixels necessary and show the + sign, like below?
I must admit that, while we like to save the pixels, for usability reasons, and for reasons of consistency with all the other outline views that samantha might be using in the client, we're inclined to keep the + signs.
Sametime 7.5 introduced the idea to end users that they might want to install and manage plugins. Do your business end users use the following in the Sametime client, and do they understand it and if yes, great, and if not, what is confusing:
Now, the Notes 8 client will also allow Samantha to download and instlal plugins. Moreover, Samantha can add plugins that feel to her like new features to anexisting application, or she can add entire applications.
Also, Notes 8 has changed the term "Database" to "Application. " This was in response from customers who told us that their end users got "scared' or confused when they saw a term like "database" in an end-user client.
We believe that from Samantha's point of view, opening databases and installing plugins-- they are all just "things", e.g. she does not know or care if one this is a Notes dataabse or another thing is an Eclipse plugin.
We realize that we have confusing mental models here. Samantha generally only "opens'"Notes databases, while now she'll also have the ability to "install' some. Of course, she might not care about the difference. Ideally, we'd make the difference entirely transparent to her, but there might be times when we cannot.
We're looking for a common set of terms to use for "installing plug-ins" regardless of whether they are "new applicatoins" or "new features" to Samantha.
To that end, I propose to add the following to the bottom of the File - Applications menu in Notes 8.
This would mean that in Sametime, we'd have these 2 menu items on an "Applications" pull right (rather than the "Manage updates" one shown above.)
Even in this case, I think Samantha would have to be told in which case to OPEN an application and in which case to "install" an application and so on, but at least she goes to the same menu. In a future version I hope to make all these distinctions transparent by giving her an integrated application catalog where she can browser through different kinds of applicatoins regardless of how they are built, and simply "pick" them.
As you read this, I am on my way to Hawaii for 2 weeks of vacation. (Well, you're reading it if the features of delayed publishing actually works, this is the first time I'm trying it.)
I'll be in a cabin in a state park near Hana, Maui for much of the time. No telephone, no internet (and barely any electricy from what I've read).
I've asked several others on the design team to be guest bloggers while I'm gone. I am certain that there will be several excrutiatingly nit-picky issues that come up while I'm away. Give my guest bloggers lots of feedback. :)
I'll be back on March 4.
Today's guest blogger is Meg Petersen, a project manager in the Lotus Information Development and Content (IDC) team. The IDC team creates training materials, technical reference guides, and online Help and is in the process of looking at what works and what doesn't. We have learned from customer visits that training is a big issue - trainers don't feel they have the time or bandwidth to create and present all the employee training that's necessary, and employees have told us they learn only the very basics in training. They want more time to learn about advanced features and tips about the best way to do things. Because they don't feel they have the time or an easy way to learn best practices, they stick to what they know, even if they think there's a better way to do something.
The Information Development team is reaching out to customers to understand more about learning styles, the use of training and documentation products, differences in use by audience, how much is enough when it comes to documentation and online help, and which types of information are most needed to be successful with Lotus products. We're having a workshop at Lotus in Cambridge, MA on March 7th to dive into these topics and create an innovative plan for training and documentation in the future. We are extending an invitation to customers and partners who can come to Cambridge that day - see details of the workshop below and let us know if you are interested in participatig. We are looking for 10 people for each group.
One topic we'll pursue is informal learning. Informal learning is what happens outside the classroom or a traditional, scripted learning experience. Examples may include web sites, books, on-line help, blogs and wikis, articles, papers, user groups, experts in your online social network, or the person sitting next to you.
We have some questios for you now, and would appreciate your input:
Here is the information about the Workshop.
Information Development Center Innovation Meeting, 2007
Date: March 7, 2007
Time: Session 1: 9:00 –12:00
Session 2: 1:30 – 4:30
Join us for either session or stay the full day.
Lunch is provided, beginning at noon, for morning and afternoon sessions.
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts, IBM Executive Briefing Center
Goal: To bring Lotus and Websphere Portal customers together with key IBM thought leaders from the Information Development Center (IDC) to collaborate on ways to improve and innovate on product documentation, technical papers, and education and training materials.
Who will attend?
A limited number of customers, representing a variety of roles -- knowledge worker, administrator, application developer, training manager, and others.
Members of Lotus IDC representing technical information development, help, education development -- writers, designers, engineers, and managers.
What is planned?
An interactive and energized session filled with customer-focused activities to review current technical content use, brainstorm new and innovative ways to deliver technical content and training, and understand your information development requirements.
To influence the next generation of IBM documentation and training, so what we design and write is what you need.
To earn free exam vouchers to become a Certified Lotus Professional.
Contact Meg Petersen at Meg_Petersen@us.ibm.com or 617-693-6808 before February 28th if you or your customers are interested in learning more about this or if you think you'd like to participate in this opportunity.
Be part of the future of Lotus documentation and training!
The productivity editors let me export to .pdf format, which is what we did to bring you our Lotusphere presentation
As some of you noticed, the productivity editors included for free in Notes 8 include the ability to export to the .pdf format.
So you'll be able to export and documents written in the document editor, presentations, and spreadsheets, into .pdf format.
This is exactly what Chris reckling and I did with our Lotusphere presentation, it was as simple as choosing one menu item:
Please note that in Notes 8 you will not yet be able to export Notes documents written in the Notes editor to .pdf format.
we're just beginning to plan for Notes 8.1
How important is it for you to be able to export Notes documents to .pdf files?
Here's an update on my question about the navigator and the folders. The hardworking developers have agreed to try to build in the ability to have a folder with a + or - sign decorator on it.