Designing the User Experience for Lotus Notes andSametime
Hi all, John Lance here. You may remember me from such past blog entries as "The Side Calendar Real Estate Mambo" and "Famous Shakespearean Candy References" (Fun tip: Macbeth's sweet of choice? Licorice Whips (it's all in the subtext))
Moving right along...
The Notes 8 Month view currently displays only the text of the entry without a background. The question is should we be using the background that we are using in the other views? Keep in mind that when the default calendar colors are applied the text for the different entry types appears in different colors (Note: You do have to click the Restore colors button on the Calendar>Colors preference tab to have these colors appear. We don't update the colors automatically for 8).
Visually, we're talking about this:
Thanks in advance and remember to keep your eyes open for my next blog entry "Tales from the Tub" (just gotta get the old laptop wrapped in plastic here...)
For the Hannover project, we're employing a design technique called "Using Personae." (Personae = Latin plural of Persona, a voice or character representing the user) My summary of the technique is that we create one or more believable fictional characters based on a bunch of interviews with real users, and then try to keep those characters in mind throughout the design of the product.
This idea was first popularized by Alan Cooper in his book The Inmates are Running the Asylum. (1999). We have used this technique before for the design of Sametime 2.0 and 2.5. We started by holding a reading group of the book.
(Conducting the reading group was in itself an interesting exploration of geographically dispersed collaboration, since the development teams were in Kentucky, Israel, and Massachusetts. We'd pick a person to summarize a chapter each week, make a few slides, and put them on the whiteboard of our Sametime meeting room. We'd also ONLY use the IP Audio available as part of the Sametime product. I think one of those reading group meetings was also the first time I had a Sametime video meeting. At any rate, by the time we finished the book, we felt like we should give this "persona" idea a shot.)
Using personae appears to be a popular technique right now. At the annual ACM CHI (Computer-Human Interaction)(http://www.chi2006.org/ )conference taking place this week, there's a panel discussing the use of this technique.
Since a focus for Hannover is improving the end-user experience, we focused on creating several business end-user personae. Yes, the Domino administrator and App dev Designer users are very important to us. But we get to hear from you a lot-- at Lotusphere every year, at the Notes user group meetings, and so on. I have never met a real, live business end user at Lotusphere. So we decided we needed to concentrate on those business end users. (You know, the ones who look at you funny when you say the word "replicate".)
We (Betsy Comstock, Sheri Branco, Deb Maurer, Jennifer Smith) set about to conduct a series of interviews with real business end users. Based on the Hannover goals, we knew we wanted to interview several executives and their AA's so that we could create an "executive/AA pair." We know that this type of "work dyad" has special Notes usage and needs. We also wanted to create an individual contributor.
Thus, three personae - "Ted Amado, VP", "Betty Zechman, AA" and "Samantha Daryn" were created. Now, we know that it's virtually impossible to boil down 125 million users into 3 fictional characters. But keeping 3 specific people in mind is sometimes a LOT easier than keeping the "mass of 125 million faceless users across the globe" in mind.
And we also know that these characters are very "Western-culture centric". We've worked with some of our user research colleagues in IBM Japan to have them conduct interviews of Japanese end users and share that information with us.
In my next posting, I'll introduce you to my "three imaginary friends" (as some of the developers have called them). In the mean time, feel free to read more about this technique at the following web sites:Read More]
In a post-8 version Lotus Notes and Domino Designer, we want to give developers the opportunity to turn on or off the "instant spell check" feature on a per-field basis. (I can't guarantee WHICH post- 8 version...)
(Instant spell check is this one, with the wavy lines: )
As you might have noticed, in Notes 8, none of the plain text fields are getting automatically spell checked, only the rich text ones.
Domino Designer users might see a new check box on the property box for enabling instant spell check, as shown in the following picture:
And business users like Samantha might see the Tools - Instant Spell Check menu item toggle on and off depending on where the input cursor is, as shown in the following picture:
However, I am hoping that since the developers will set "spell check on or off" in meaningful ways, that for Samantha, instant spell check will seem to be "on" at the right time, and "off" at the right time.
How do you want us to set the defaults? I am tempted to have Domino Designer turn on the instant spell check for all rich, rich text lite, and plain text fields and put the onus on you developers to turn it off. This means less work for us for some of our templates-- like the subject field in a mail message. Or, does it make more sense for us to turn it on for rich text and rich text lite, but leave it off for plain text, and you go turn ON the plain text spell checking?
Mary_Beth 110000PF38 6,634 Views
It's the eve of DNUG (Deutsche Notes User Group) and ILUG (Irish Lotus User Group). Maureen Leland and I have been corresponding on our various talks-- she's going to DNUG, I am at ILUG. I hope she's having as much fun as I am. (Is it safe to let your boss know you love your job and your user community?)
I'm sitting in the conference hotle lobby with 11 over attendees, mainly business partners. I've met a few new faces-- ok, the faces are not new because I have seen them on their own blogs or on twitter... but it is nice to meet them in person.
Theo Hesslemans just arrived with a bagful of fabulous buttons that say " Read my blog" with the Notes logo. Our very own Denise Shaw of the Notes 8 design team designed the buttons. and many thanks to Theo for having them made up![Read More]
Hi all, John Lance here. You may remember me from such past blog postings as "Refreshing To Dos" and "Great TV Moments of My Childhood" (#4 = Mr. Hooper defending Sesame Street from an invasion of Klingons using only the letter G (as in "ghuh Daq Hegh DaH, Klingon dog!"). And my congratulations to the Alpha geeks who understood that without the benefits of a translator.)
Moving right along....
So we're re-examining the exporting of Contacts to different formats (vcard, CSV, TSV, and Structured Text). Specifically we're looking at some of the options that appear on the dialog and wondering how much Ted A) Understands these options and B) Needs to really be concerned about these options.
Of particular interest:
1. When exporting a VCard does Ted has the option to Export a Character Set (below). So, again, the question is does Ted know the difference between these two things? Does he care? Should we just pick one as the default and not give him the option (and which default would you pick?)
2. When exporting contacts to a CSV format Ted gets to choose to Export Character Set and the Level of Detail to incorporate (below). Keeping in mind that we are specifically focusing on Contacts (and not other cases where you would want to export to CSV) does Ted know/care about these different options? Are there defaults we can choose and simply hide the options from him (and what would they be?)
3. When exporting contacts to Structured Text format Ted gets our familiar Export Character Set option, plus a Separator Between Documents and Word Wrap options (below). Again, in the world of Contacts do these options make sense to Ted?
Thanks in advance for the feedback.
Do you or anybody in your organization use this item called "Restore Defaults" on the bookmark bar? We're thinking of removing it.
Lotus Notes users have several (perhaps too many) choices to make when they reply to a mail message. One of those choices is "Reply with Internet-Style History."
Do you users know what it does and/or why they would want to use it? In our usability tests, the participants have been puzzled by the term, and we'd like to improve the term.
Choosing this menu item creates a reply in plain text and puts a > in front of each line (hence the "Internet-Style" part). However, since the users in our tests didn't seem to think that phrase meant anything, we're considering changing it to one of the following:
Any other thoughts or ideas?
(And no, I didn't finish the Squirrel costume... sewing machine broke... need to go to a friend's to borrow one... but at least I have the big furry tail cut out and pinned together... Halloween party Friday night... the pressure is on! :) )[Read More]
The "About This Application" and "Using This Application" documents for the Mail template (Mail8.ntf) and the Contacts template (Pernames.ntf) have been updated for 8.0. However, you will not see these updated documents in applications created prior to 8.0.
The reason is that in previous releases, the templates had the "Prohibit design refresh or replace to modify" property on those design elements. Note that this was a customer requested change to the templates, back in R4. Of course, I wasn't working on Notes then, and we're not sure exactly what the use cases were for making this change.
I suspect this was because many of you customized your templates and provided customized "about" and "using" documents and you didn't want them to get stomped on. In Notes 8, we have made many changes to Mail and Contacts applications AND to the "about" and "using" documents, so now some of you might be between a bit of a rock and a hard place, because you are going to WANT the updates we made to these documents.
Now you know, so that you can plan accordingly.
Is itpainful for your organization to deploy new versions of the Lotus Notes Client,because your IT department has customized the Mail template?
We want tounderstand what your template customizations are and the reasons behindeach. For example, “Do you customizeyour template to show Last name, First name in the Inbox? If so, why do your users need/want this?”
MargoEzekiel, UI Designer, Notes Mail Client
I'm standing on the "lab floor" of the Lotus Advisor conference, trying to write this entry in between giving demos of Hannover.
The time is coming for me to make some decisions about a "Getting Started" or "Welcome Page". Here are the options:
I just got the following email from Andrew Robinson (one of our developers) who says that you can already customize error messages if you want to.
The feature that you're requesting here already exists, I implemented it in 6.55 originally...
This modification allows a user to add the line "err_XXXX=<override text>" to their notes.ini file in order to override the text of Notes error 0xXXXX..
The Notes error code for "The server is not responding, please contact your administrator..." is 0x0807. With this enhancement, adding the line "err_0807=This is a test" will make the text "Custom Error 0x0807
: This is a test" appear in the error dialog when a server is down in Notes. This can be used to override the text of any Notes error text of which the hex code is known.
The hex code for "Unable to find path to server..." is 0x0803, so adding the line "err_0803=Custom Text Here" to notes.ini will customize this message.
In my previous post
I told you that the DWA template and "regular" template are merged, and that there will be an entry in the Replicator page to "synch Contacts" between the Contacts that are stored in a user's mail file (which is the way DWA did it) and the separate pernames.nsf (Contacts), which is the way the "regular" template did it.
One of the reasons we merged the templates was to allow people like Ted (our VP of marketing persona) to delegate his contacts to Betty, his AA. So if they are all in his mail file, he can delegate them. Thus, now, the Delegation of Contacts feature is closely associated with this synch of contacts between mail and pernames.nsf. This means that if Ted delegates his mail to Betty, he'll automatically delegate his Contacts also (if we turn on the synching things automatically). Is that going to be a problem? Think about Your execs, who have not yet been able to delegate contacts... and suddenly -- poof! all the AA's have access. It might be a wonderful thing and all the Domino IT folks will be praised. (personally, I am of that opinion), However, if Ted has been storing the names of all the people with whom he has engaged in, well, let's just say "Private activities" (which may or may not involve women's shoes, Charles...),or, say, the name of his sex therapist, marriage counselor, or Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor... and suddenly Betty has this list, well, IBM certainly does not wish to make any VPs look foolish on account of a magically shared personal contacts book....
On the other hand, I figure, if Ted is going to trust Betty with his Mail and Calendar, then he'd probably trust her with his Contacts as well (and we do want to make it possible for him to set some Contacts as "private only"... but we can't fit it in just yet...).
Thus, perhaps now you understand the debate we're having about turning it on automatically. And yes, it should be governed by a user policy, which will have to wait for a future release.
One other thing-- the Contacts entries count toward your mail quota, so if we turn it on, everybody's contacts will count toward their mail quotas. Is that OK? (and yes we are considering putting all the contacts in the mail file, not for 8.0, but perhaps for a future release.)
So now that you have all this information, do you REALLY want us to set up the Contacts synch to be ON by default? Please provide not only a yes or no, but also the company you represent, the approx number of users affected, and whether you've got people who have ONLY used the "regular" mail template in the past (as compared to the DWA one).
Notes 7 shipped with 5 toolbars on by default, I think. (Universal, editing, address, navigation and the context-senstive one). We're focusing on the "PIM" (personal information management, e.g. mail calendar and contacts) experience in Hannover, and for that experience, I think shipping with 4 toolbars turned on is too much.
Now, ideally, I'd like to give you the ability to totally customize the toolbars and govern that through policy, so that you could give the lawyers in your company a different set of toolbars than the accountants, and that kind of thing. That total customization is the direction we plan to go, and using an Eclipse rich client platform takes us in that direction. But we won't be able to give that to you yet in Hannover.
So, here are 2 proposals, which do you prefer, and of course, you can suggest other things.
1. Four toolbars on 2 rows: Editing, Universal, and the new search one on the first row, and the context-sensitive one on the second row. (and of course, if you have created a custom toolbar, we'll turn that on also, and try to fit it on the first row, and if it won't fit, then we'll put it in a third row)
2. 2 toolbars on 1 row: The context-sensitive ones (with a few important items added, such as new, print, and in the case of edit mode, cut, copy, paste and copy as link), and the new search one (and same caveat about the custom toolbars).
Now, one issue with just 1 row is that in our new IBM Productivity Tools (they are a word prcessor, spreadsheet, and presentation tool, and are shipping as part of Hannover), there will be 2 rows of toolbars. That means that the row of tabs will move up and down as Samantha switches between a tab that is for, say Mail, and a tab for the IBM Spreadsheet. If it weren't for this "moving" problem, I'd go with this choice, because it displays fewer icons (e.g. I don't want to make Samantha look at a "paste" icon in a view if it will never be enabled)
Here is a sample of what they might look like in Mail and in the Spreadsheet. Yes, in the squished picture below, it looks like we could fit the second row into the first in a mail view. But then in a document (message) the editing context-sensitive toolbar is a lot longer, so it seemed to make more sense to put it on the second row consistently. The IBM Productivity Tool design lead (Jodi Rexford) and I have coordinated so that the items in the first row (in option 1) are in a consistent order across Notes and the IBM productivity tools, e.g. always starting with cut, copy, paste. If we did the "context-sensitive only" route of option 2, we'd lose that consistency.
Thanks in advance for your comments.[Read More]
Good user interaction design is really all about re-design-- re-design based on user feedback. Thus, my primary purpose in this blog is to post questions to the millions of Notes users out there so that I can better understand how you use Notes.
This blog is not the only way that I and the rest of the Notes design team are gathering feedback. We're working with several design partners in various industries, we've posted several surveys, and we get our usability test participants from people who have volunteered to participate by registering at this site:
My goal is to blog three times a week (Mon, Wed, Fri) about the design of "Hannover" and Sametime.
On the Edit menu, when do you use the menu item called "Quote Selection"?
Once a day or more
About Once a week
About Once a month
Less than Once a month
How would you feel if we removed that menu item?
(And if you can't figure out what it does, I'll tell you in my next post).[Read More]
A while ago I asked for your opinions on what would be best for the toolbars. I am trying to pare them down to 1 row by default for the "Samantha's" of the world. We had a few design issues because the new IBM Productivity tools (Spreadsheet, presentation too, and Word Processor) have 2 rows by default, and that meant a "jumping" tab row.
So, here's my next idea: Move the tab row abover the toolbars, as shown below. Then any app can have as many rows of toolbars as they think appropriate for their specific application.