Monday Jun 17, 2013

Context in User Experience? Meet Use of Context in Translation. Result: Great UX Globally

What makes for a great, compelling and modern user experience? Context. Context of use, context of device, context of task, all revolving around a source of truth in the cloud: that customer, that employee, that sale, that general ledger. And what makes for a great translation (or localization as the rest of the industry would say)? Context.

Here's a presentation I delivered at Localization World, London 2013 that shows how the two can work together. For me, context is just as useful for implementers and developers as it is for the translation team. And certainly providing the context for a great string in the UI, in any language, is what makes for a great experience.

Wednesday Feb 22, 2012

Color and other Favorites: Microsoft Does UK English in the UI

Said it before, but the excuse that "you bought it from an American company" just isn't good enough as a response to Oracle user feedback about US spellings used in the UI (who reads that doc, anyway?). I've heard many times from customers outside the US that they're driven nuts by color, favorites, and so on, but also by US-centric terminology used in the UI. There is a serious UX downside to not letting customers have language the way they want it, and indeed the way their corporate culture, whatever about country or region, demands. Productivity, training, morale, loyalty are all impacted, and Oracle needs to respond.

Delighted to see that in time for International Mother Language Day 2012, Microsoft has announced that Windows 8 users in the UK will have UK English UIs. Well done Microsoft! I pointed out last year how Google already did this.

Oracle, too, is serious about a total user experience and giving customers what they want in their UIs, the means to easily change it, and to look up terms is now on the cards. Stay tuned for information on this.

Enterprise apps are under pressure from consumerization of IT trends.  Clearly, then Microsoft is responding to the market, a fact reflected by the release of an UK English Style Guide for Windows Phone. Mobile UX is one where consumerization cannot be so easily dismissed (SAP hasreleased a consumer mobile app too). Choice of language needs to reflect all this, too. 

If you want to er, complain to someone about US versus UK English in your Oracle apps UI, then contact me!

Wednesday Nov 09, 2011

Czeching out DITA Europe 2011

Attended the DITA Europe 2011 Conference in Prague. Presented with Erika Webb (@erikanollwebb) the research into using comics to explain DITA concepts. Delivery went down very well, positive vibes, lots of interaction in the Q&A session, and a few souls now up for trying comics for themselves as a result. Score.

DITA Europe 2011 at the Marriott


Clearly, from what we heard at the conference there is a need for getting across to writers the fundamentals of DITA and structured authoring, so comics are worth a look if you find yourself with that need.

Loved Marie-Louise Flacke's (@flacke) session called iconmania: the use of icons in documentation when they are neither needed nor wanted--just because you can--and the dismal result for the user and DITA adoption. Future stress testing is clearly required by the IMF (Icon Monitoring Foundation) and the time is now right for a French woman to bring some badly needed sanity to the global icon commodity market, methinks.

Slide from iconmania presentation


Delighted to also find a copy of Oracle's Marta Rauch's (@martarauch) article on mobile user assistance in circulation at the conference by way of the Center for Information Design and Management's Best Practices Newsletter.

CIDM newsletter

It was encouraging to hear about a widening use of personas and task analysis in information design and about the need for usability testing of DITA artifacts and outputs. Still not enough user-centered design methodology being demonstrated IMO, but it is moving in the right direction. The now established practices of community content engagement and the buzzword du jour "gamification"  surfaced in ways that, to me, seem orthogonal to DITA. Uptake and success of a community content strategy with or without the use of game mechanics doesn't depend on DITA. As we heard at the conference, a “build it and they will come attitude” isn’t sufficient.

SAP appears to have DITA nailed as a corporate mandate (Oracle does not use DITA on this basis) and clearly has a very well-defined and managed way of going about evaluation and implementations that reminded me of the SAP diligence when adopting information quality tools (DFKI/Acrolinx).

Translation, generally, within the DITA context, continues to be spoken about in somewhat janitorial terms of a declining cost (y-axis) over time (x-axis) imperative. Whether the source or target information adds any user value in the first place--discussed within the context of the total cost of a full content life cycle--might be a more constructive approach.

Generally, I remain unconvinced about DITA saving greater translation cost than any other proper content strategy management. To reduce word counts, ergo the most visible variable in cost of translation, what you do need a change management strategy that includes migration, talent management, training, enforcement, and reporting, but above all user-centred design principles and a change in writing behavior.

DITA translatability best practices that I come across are conceptually no different from those for dealing with linguistic, rendering or processing issues in other translated formats (see my own). DITA best practices for machine translation (statistical or rule-based) remain elusive, however.

Sessions on multilingual asset management made the case well for dealing with all the large number of topics, files, objects associated with DITA-based information development, and the promise of visualization of those assets seemed a brilliant feature idea (reminded me of eye tracking scan paths) for any CMS rather than the unwieldy object trees and hierarchies we see now.

Slide from macroscopic vizualization presentaton showing DITA objects and usage

Great to be back in Prague after all these years. Once I finally got through the shambolic passport control at the airport (nobody in the EU should accept such bureaucratic buffoonery in 2011) and got to the city, I found Prague's character hadn't changed too much since I had been there in the 1990s: wonderful sights, sounds and smells, and taxi drivers each worth avoiding by a 10km radius.

Dancing House, Praha

There is a frustrating lack of multilingual signage at key points in the city. However there are some welcome new locations that require no translation at all, so I was happy.

Starbucks Praha

I easily navigated about the city on shank’s mare and the superb public transport, relying on Google Maps on the iPhone again. Never got to try Czech option on Android Google Translate Conversation Mode. Next time. Maybe at passport control.

Google Translation Conversion Mode on Google Nexus S

In all, a well-attended conference (120+, I’d say), excellent organization, varied subjects and expertise levels, and a superb location that’s easy to get to if you’re in EMEA. Certainly, plenty to think about after the conference, which is always a win.

About

Oracle applications global user experience (UX): Culture, localization, internationalization, language, personalization, more. For globally-savvy UX people, so that it all fits together for Oracle's worldwide customers.

Audience: Enterprise applications translation and localization topics for the user experience professional (designers, engineers, developers, researchers)!
Profile

Ultan Ó Broin. Director, Global Applications User Experience, Oracle Corporation. On Twitter: @localization

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