In April, Oracle sponsored a webcast
called “Putting the User First – Moving Beyond the User Interface to a User
Experience.” Listeners learned how the Oracle Applications User Experience team
worked closely with customers around the globe to build a deep user experience
in Oracle’s next generation of Human Capital Management (HCM) applications:
Oracle Fusion Applications HCM.
The webcast was delivered by Jeremy
Ashley, Vice President of Oracle Applications User Experience (UX); Aylin
Uysal, Senior Manager, HCM UX; Jay Richey, Director, Oracle HCM Applications
Marketing; and Beth Correa, founder and CEO of Official Payroll Advisor.
The webcast, which had more than 200
attendees registered, is now posted on the HR.com site and available.
by Martin Taylor - Oracle Applications User Experience
Ashley, Vice President of the Oracle Applications User Experience team, sits at
an eye-tracking station in the Redwood Shores, Calif., usability labs.
Attendees had several
questions, and we’d like to answer them here on the Usable Apps blog. We invite
you to take the opportunity to add a comment or question at the bottom of this
From Todd Grubbs, an analyst at WellPoint, Inc.:
Q: I've visited the Oracle Usability Labs,
and I’ve done the eye-tracking demo. I'm very interested in learning how you
guys apply the eye-tracking data you gather to influence changes in your
A: Oracle’s eye-tracking tools
help members of the Applications User Experience team record the flow of a
user’s visual attention during enterprise tasks. Based upon both qualitative
and quantitative methods, researchers can tell whether users clearly understand
icons, whether page navigation is intuitive, and whether page layout is
confusing. This information helps product teams to make specific decisions that
are targeted to visual and/or navigation features of pages. Eye-tracking
methods are a complement, and not a substitute, for more traditional usability
testing. The interface designer can be informed about unclear or distracting
features on an interface, and can help determine why certain errors are made
while completing tasks.
For more in how the Oracle Apps UX team
uses eye-tracking, visit Usable Apps, or look for our demopod at OpenWorld 2011 in San Francisco, Oct.
From Narayan Moni, a director at Aeroxchange, Ltd.:
Q: What software did you use to study the
A: There are several steps, each
with associated software, required to analyze the results from an eye-tracking
study. First, detailed samples of gaze-points are translated into strings of
behavioral fixations using software made by the manufacturer of the eye
tracker, Tobii. Metrics from these scanpaths are then exported to Excel. Data
may also be loaded into our own prototype analysis software, which finds
matching clusters of similar scanning strategies. Metrics from both of these
are then put into SPSS for further statistical analysis. We are also conducting
trial studies with software by Noldus, called FaceReader, that can record
several dimensions of emotion (e.g., happy, surprised, angry) based upon
automated facial gesture analysis.
Q: Also, what was the size of the team that
worked on soliciting user feedback? The reason I ask is that my company is a
small company, and I am trying to understand the most effective and
cost-efficient method to solicit user feedback. I understand that face-to-face
is best, but it is also the most expensive and resource-hungry.
A: When Oracle began developing
Fusion Applications, its next-generation enterprise software, Oracle had the
advantage of being able to incorporate user experience teams from several
recent acquisitions. To read more about how the teams came together and what
that meant for Fusion, as well as for current
application releases that have benefited from this user experience work such as
PeopleTools 8.50 and E-Business Suite 12.1.3, please visit
Usable Apps. We understand, however, that
our work with Fusion Applications was done on a grand scale with a large
investment from Oracle, and few businesses could replicate such an effort --
even with substantial resources. So we’ve been talking with Oracle customers
and capturing their best practices in the field of user experience. You can
read more about the type of research other Oracle customers have done to
improve their own user experience – whether it was on a portal or their entire
Web site – at Usable Apps as well.
Q: Could you speak about the organizational
structure of the team that worked on Fusion and the responsibilities of each
team? I am trying to understand how you were able to outline clear roles for
each team without having teams step all over each other.
A: Our teams are responsible for certain
product areas such as HCM, FIN, or CRM, or certain tool feature sets, such as
collaboration (Web 2.0) tools or user assistance. But you have an excellent
point, and it’s something we’ve been able to take advantage of: All of our
research behind Fusion has been used to improve other Oracle applications as
well as develop Fusion, and designs from one area may well serve a task flow in
another area. So, because the Oracle Applications UX team enjoys a very
collaborative atmosphere, we’ve taken many designs for Fusion HCM and
incorporated them into recent releases of PeopleSoft, Agile, and JD Edwards,
among other product lines. In addition, you will find collaboration tools and
user assistance resources, for example, across the entire product suite of
Fusion Applications. Because Fusion is a suite of applications that crosses
many pillars smoothly and without interruption to the user, our UX team is
designed somewhat the same way.
Kathleen Noble, NM DESIGN:
Q: Are there visuals?
A: Yes, and once again, we invite
you to visit Usable Apps to read our growing series of articles on Fusion Applications. Here, you will find
several articles on certain areas of the Fusion user experience with
screenshots showing the highlights. Articles on Fusion Applications HCM, Fusion Mobile Portrait Gallery, Fusion
Financials, and Fusion User Assistance are scheduled for
publication before OpenWorld 2011.
Marsha Oremland, a director with ADP, Inc.:
Q: Can social networking be opened to
individuals outside of the company?
A: Social networking in Fusion
Applications is powered by the WebCenter Framework within Fusion Middleware
(FMW). Fusion Middleware provides the ability to offer its services within an
organization or outside a secure firewall -- the choice is up to the customer.
However, in Fusion Applications, out-of-the-box social networking capabilities
have been enabled for internal behind-the-firewall usage across global
enterprises. But since Fusion Application runs 100% on Fusion Middleware, this
capability can be extended outside of the enterprise through customization.
Specific capabilities in FMW that could be opened to individuals outside of the
company include discussion forums, wikis, and blogs. Read more about our collaboration tool set on Usable
Sue Wood, an analyst with Peopleclick Authoria:
Q: How many people work on the UX team?
A: Our team is a conglomeration of
existing and acquired UX teams. The Oracle Applications UX team consists of
dozens of micro-teams who all research, design, and test specific areas of the
user experience of software applications.