Designing the User Experience for Lotus Notes andSametime
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]
I'll be doing a series of postings about various menus and menu items, and then move on to other topics. The design team is working on menus right now, so they are fresh in our minds, and I like a "top-down" approach anyway-- start with menus, then maybe move to toolbars, tabs, action bars etc until we get to status bar issues :)
Thanks for the more than 50 comments from my first posting, in which I asked how you felt about the "View - Quote Selection" menu item.
Based on the responses, it appears that we have a cultural split, and our Asian users use the Quote Selection and many others don't. So, I will try to follow up with some of our Asian users. In the mean time, I'll not remove it, although I'm going to try to simply HIDE it in a view (since it is never enabled in a view), and that's about it.
Today's question: the Properties menu items.
On the File menu, there is a "Document Properties..." menu item, and then on the Edit menu there is also a "Properties..." menu item that is context-sensitive and gives you the properties for the current "thing" (e.g. Table, Document, Database, etc.).
I was thinking of just having one "Properties..." menu item, making it context-sensitive, and putting it near the bottom of the File menu. Opinions?
Nathan Freeman of OpenNTF.org commented on his blog that he doesn't think I'm asking the right questions. http://www.openntf.org/nathan/escape.nsf
If I may summarize, he doesn't want to have to answer questions about each little menu item. He just wants complete control over all menu items. And preferences. I can understand that, and given Lotus Notes' role as an integration platform, it is a reasonable request.
So, we hear ya. If we were to embark on such an endeavor, we might not be able to provide you with the ability to customize all of everything all at once.
Which is most important to you:
If we had to deliver policy-controlled preferences in chunks across various releases, which ones are the most important?
If controlling the menus is more important, do you want to control each menu item via Domino policy?Or would it be wiser to have "menu sets" where you turn on "the mail menus" or things like that?
Let me know. Cause if we can make it happen, we want to start with the things that matter most to you.[Read More]
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]
I'd like to introduce you to:
Samantha's Work goals
As promotions coordinator, Samantha's main job is to create and manage promotion programs that boost sales and customer loyalty for the Renovations stores. She also has to increase brand awareness of a line of power tools called "Power Renovations". Promotions programs include Web site content, newspaper inserts, catalogs, exhibits, in-store displays, and special events, and may feature purchase incentives such as discounts, rebates, and contests.
Her interpersonal work goals include:
• Staying in touch with her team and customers, staying organized and having good relationships with the people on her team and with customers.
Samantha is responsible for:
• Designing promotions programs and producing promotional material. Samantha works closely with a visual designer; a copywriter, and the web master and outside consultants.
• Coordinating promotional activities with goals of the advertising and marketing departments
• Collaborating with Renovations store managers on the display and administration of in-store promotions.
• Evaluating promotions by ROI (Return on investment) and brand recognition
• Budgeting and financial reporting
Samantha's Work Day
Samantha's day is frequently full of meetings. She and her colleagues meet regularly to discuss the status of their projects, and she attends planning and status meetings with Marketing management. She also meets with Renovations store managers to collaborate on promotion plans, placement, and execution.
Samantha uses an
• Lotus Notes 6.5 client with mail, calendar, and contacts applications. She's a bit frustrated with mail and contacts compared to Outlook, which she used at her last job. She uses seven other Lotus Notes databases (She has local replicas of the first two). The IS dept created the local replicas and the replication schedules for her; she has no idea how to make a local replica of any of the others or how to change the schedule)
• IE 6.0, to keep tabs on competitors' web sites as well as the Renovations site. She uses Google Maps when she needs directions for visits to store locations, and is also a veteran online shopper.
• Microsoft Word 2002 and Microsoft PowerPoint 2002. She is a real power user of Powerpoint.
• Lotus Sametime 2.5
The IS department put Lotus Notes and several Adobe products (Illustrator, Photoshop) in the Mac so that she could work closely with the visual designers in her department.
In addition to her laptop, Samantha has her own computer at home, on which she uses Hotmail,
Ted’s Work Goals
As VP of Merchandising and Marketing, Ted’s main goal is to increase profitability and generate new revenue streams through delivering excellent promotional activities, both inside the Renovations stores and in outside media and special events. He sees his role as setting longer-term strategy and doing whatever is needed to keep his direct reports successful implementing projects such as improving store atmosphere, developing and delivering advertising, promotions, special point of sale displays, etc.
Ted manages by motivating and leading his employees. He seems to know everyone, and uses his relationships to accomplish business goals. He is often the “face of the company” to outsiders, and enjoys the spotlight.
Ted’s Work Day
Ted arrives at work around . He first scans email to “check the pulse” of his responsibilities. Ted gets over 100 email messages a day and many include large attachments. Ted attends to as many as he can and sorts them into folders for Betty to handle, projects he’s working on, and people he needs to meet with. Often there are phone calls, voice messages, or Sametime chats about urgent items. Ted keeps track of his work by making sure everything is on his calendar. He checks to make sure he’s ready for today’s meetings, checks an email folder named “Urgent” and occasionally prints out information he’ll need. He also looks ahead at the meetings for the rest of the week.
Ted spends at least 80% of his usual work days in meetings. Betty schedules the meetings, taking care to allow time for Ted to get from one to the next. She understands his work and priorities well, and therefore knows which meetings and people to squeeze into his schedule. In any day, Ted may have 10 or more meetings scheduled, but that may change drastically during the day as new issues arise that require Ted’s attention.
When Ted travels, Betty takes a more active role in scheduling, monitoring Ted’s email for important issues, routing or handling any she can, and alerting Ted to anything he might need to know about immediately.
Ted hates surprises and makes sure he’s up to date on business and consumer trends. At free moments during the day, he peruses newspapers, trade publications, analyst reports, websites, etc., and forwards interesting items to his staff, often with a request for an individual to follow up or get more information.
Ted uses an
Ted also uses PowerPoint and Excel. He has a cell phone and Palm Pilot.
Betty’s Work Goals
Betty supports Ted Amado in whatever capacity he needs, managing his calendar and inbox, providing support information for meetings, making travel arrangements, etc. She supports Ted and his senior managers by helping to create spreadsheet reports and presentations. Betty also leads the team of administrative assistants, and makes sure their hardware, software, and training needs are met.
Betty really wants everyone to be well taken care of. She is highly efficient, trusted, and knowledgeable about Renovations’ business and Ted’s responsibilities and priorities.
Betty’s Work Day
Betty arrives in the office around . Her low-walled cubicle is right outside Ted’s office. She has a large paper calendar on her desk and yellow stickies on and around her monitor. Betty checks her voicemail, scans Ted’s mail and calendar, and then her own. She makes sure there are no changes to Ted’s calendar since last night and updates it if needed. Meeting changes come via the phone, email, or Sametime rather than as Notes calendar invitations since Ted has little free time and other entries must shift to accommodate changes.
When something urgent comes up, Betty contacts Ted right away. If he’s offsite or not in the office yet, she calls his cell phone. If he’s in a meeting, she uses Sametime or walks to the meeting and speaks to him directly when the meeting ends. When Ted’s schedule changes for later that day, Betty makes the change in Notes and also contacts Ted if she thinks he might not see it there in time.
Aside from all the calendar work she does, Betty helps make sure that Ted has everything he needs for his meetings, such as information from email, lists of attendees, and directions if he’s offsite. She prepares monthly report spreadsheets and transforms Ted’s draft PowerPoint slides into more polished presentations. She sets up meetings with other management team execs, suppliers, analysts, and other people inside and outside Renovations and she organizes larger meetings by doing everything from managing materials to ordering lunch. Betty also sometimes routes email or replies to it on Ted’s behalf (cc-ing Ted), especially when he's traveling. She sorts email he needs to take care of into folders: “Urgent”, “Read”, and “Personal.” She also deals with email Ted has sorted into folders for her: “Edit” or “Print.”
Betty is Notes savvy in both mail and calendar but hates repeating meetings. She wishes she could use the group calendar but needs something that would allow her to see what everyone is doing all at once. Her own mail isn’t as organized as Ted’s. She uses her inbox as a to-do list and only files items when they are finished.
Betty's Work Tools
Betty’s primary computer is an IBM ThinkCentre desktop workstation running Windows XP. She also has an IBM T30 Thinkpad that she uses when she is out of the office to keep all of Ted’s information current.
Lotus Notes 6.5 is her email and calendar tool. Betty loves Sametime Instant Messaging and could not live with out it.
She uses MS Word, PowerPoint, and Internet Explorer 6.0.
Betty also has to use “Reserve” an internal room scheduling application (web-based).
Thursday, April 27 was "take your sons and daughters to work day" at our IBM facility in Westford, MA. I brought my 2 kids. On the drive in we were talking about what they wanted to be when they grew up, and my eldest said that she never wanted to do what I do because it's boring, all I do it sit in front of a computer, and that I rush my kids through bedtime so I can do a concall with China or India.
Imagine the "mommy guilt" I felt.
Then we arrived at work. This same child saw three 8X10 glossies of Samantha, Ted, and Betty --our three Hannover design personae--on my shelf. (Yes, I really do have 8X10 glossies, in acrylic stand-up frames, in my office). "Who are these guys" she asked. I explained. "You go and interview people? and then make up stories about pretend people? I never knew you did that."
When she returned to my office late that afternoon after some wonderful group sessions, she noticed my new iMac with the built-in camera, and spent a very long time taking pictures of herself using the "photo booth" application and applying all sorts of visual effects. We talked a little about visual design. At 5:30 I forced her to leave.
"But Mom, this is soooo much fun! You have the COOLEST job!"
I think so too. :)[Read More]
I said I'd start with the menus and "work my way down" the user interface, with regard to posting. Well, as you can see, I didn' t get very far before your comments took me in the direction of complete policy-driven menus and preferences. We are investigating what to add to the current policy-driven preferences.
(And the "international" settings might not make our list of the preferences to be policy-driven. I know a few of you listed "international" as some of the preferences you'd like to see driven by policy. So speak now in a response or you might have to wait for a future release.)
I should have known that making the toolbar buttons policy-driven would have been your next request. My current and much smaller goal is to get the "Debug Lotuscript" icon out of the "universal" toolbar so that Samantha, Ted, and Betty won't have to look at it all the time.We won't remove it entirely, but I at least want to allow them to use the "print" toolbar button without having to see "Debug Lotuscript" if they don't have to.
The Hannover release includes team members from many disciplines, including the following design-related areas:
My subsequent posts will introduce you to the various team members. Today, I'll concentrate on the interaction designers.
What is an interaction designer? Well, an interaction designer is someone who thinks about the order of operations, the primary tasks, and the utility of the product in general. I am an interaction designer. We have several interaction designers on the Hannover project who focus on different areas.
Before I introduce them, I'd like to let you know that there are more interaction designers on the Hannover release than any other release of Lotus Notes. Also, none of the interaction designers has worked on a previous Lotus Notes release ( the closest thing is that I worked with Jim Hart and other Notes developers on the Sametime integration in the Calendar for scheduling online meetings). I'd like to think that this means new blood for a new era of increased attention to user experience.
I'm the team lead, you already know a bit about me from the blog. We also have the following interaction designers working on Hannover:
Margo Ezekiel - Mail ( no picture could ever do her justice!) - She's been spending the bulk of her time not only designing a new "threads" experience, but also prototyping it for early usability testing.
- John Lance - Calendar - He's been working hard at many aspects of the Calendar, including improved ways to do free-time lookup. John is also a published author of fiction ( not to be confused with his user interface designs!) He's too shy to provide a picture of himself, so I'm providing a picture of the cover of his book.
- Anuphinh (Noy) Wanderski - Contacts - She's totally redesigned the Contacts form and many of the Contacts views to provide a totally fresh look at the whole "contacts management" experience.
Yao P. (Alex) Song - He's concentrated on providing a consistent search experience across both the rich client and the web, spanning all of the IBM Software group end-user products.
Me, I'm working on "framework" issues like menu s, toolbar, bookmarks, Workpace, and so on.
On May 1, Angel Sagredo asked if we could include Outlook users in our requirements and user research.
We already do! :)
One of the primary ways we do that is by working with IBM employees who come from recent acquisitions. That is, IBM buys a company, and if the company had previously deployed Outlook, they switch to Notes. It's a great opportunity to get a fresh perspective by interviewing and sitting with new users of Lotus Notes--people who until recently had used Outlook.
A member of our user studies team, Deb Maurer, just arranged 8 interviews with users at Datapower (a recent acquisition) 2 weeks ago.
The other way we get Outlook users (besides asking friends and relatives) is from people who register to participate in various feedback activities. When you register, you can choose all sorts of activities, not just usability testing. And we ask what mail programs you use, so we can specifically find people who can provide us with perspectives other than the Lotus Notes one. So please, get all YOUR Outlook-using friends and relatives to register, too!
Thanks in advance.Read More]
On May 2nd, Stu Downes asked if we could look at improving our support of multiple monitors.
He's not the only one. Ken Norland of Countrywide has been asking for 2 years, and John Head of PSC spent a great deal of time with us during Lotusphere 2006 (our yearly "user group" type conference in Orlando), discussing the importance of making Lotus Notes easy and useful to use when a user has 2 monitors hooked up.
I'm happy to say that we maybe able to address improving our support of multiple monitors. I cannot provide any specifics or make any promises, but the IBM Distinguished Engineer in charge of the Hannover release (Jeff Eisen) has taken an interest in Lotus Notes on multiple monitors lately, and he's been looking into making some improvements.