Wednesday Jan 08, 2014

Designing the Language Experience of the User Interface

When you think about any user interface (UI) guideline and you hear “language of the user,” what do you think?

  • I should be able to understand the words I see on the UI.
  • The words I see on the UI should be meaningful to the work that I do.
  • The words I see on the UI should be translatable and localizable.

The usability of business applications has evolved, and business applications have become more consumer-focused. The average user’s understanding of business applications has evolved as well. Technology and know-how now allow us to build contextual user experiences into applications and to design language experiences for the UI—with style, tone, terms, words, and phrases—that resonate with real users and their real, every day work experiences in the real world, across the globe.

For example, on the Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud My Details page, notice how the sections are organized, how they use real-world terms in headings and field labels, and how they use real content, such as personal and biographical details instead of placeholder text, which cannot be evaluated for its meaning or translation or localization needs.

Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud My Details page

Choosing which terms, words, and phrases to include on the UI is as important as choosing the right terms to use in code. In code and on the UI, the terms and words should be accurate in context and enable the successful completion of a task in context, whether the context is the processing of an event in the code or the user adding information to a contact record on a form in the UI.

37signals book, Getting Real, dedicates a short essay, Copywriting is Interface Design, to the importance of copywriting in UI design and how important every single word choice on is for the UI.

There are also numerous resources that support that choosing terms, words, and phrases for the UI that accurately represent real-world concepts in their source language often enables the translation and localization experiences. For examples, see Ultan Ó Broin’s Blogos entry Working Out Context in the Enterprise: Localize That! and Verónica González de la Rosa and Antoine Lefeuvre’s slideshare ‘Translation is UX’ Manifesto.

So how do we design a rich, context-aware UI language experience for today’s user?

  • We use accurate terms to represent concepts that are well-established in the real world by real users. These are the terms that users use frequently, terms such as team or shopping cart.
  • We use terms consistently to represent the same concepts across applications. We wouldn’t use location in one place and party site in another to represent the same concept, or save and submit to represent the same concept.
  • When we need to use these terms in context of phrases on the UI, we do so with a style and tone that resonates with users and yet is still translatable and localizable. This means that we don’t introduce nonsensical words or instant messaging-speak. We offer phrasing that is simple and clear: Add a new customer record.
  • We stop surfacing the language of the application on the UI, for example, code-specific terms. When we use a term like worker in the code as an abstraction or a superclass to represent the concept that a person can assume the role of “employee” or “contractor” in the system, this use makes sense in context of where and how it is used in code. When we surface the term worker on the UI to represent either or both roles, we introduce a context-independent use of this concept and one that when tested, we learn is not necessarily translatable or localizable in such a context.

Jakob Nielsen in his 1995 article 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design identified a need for this practice of using language choices that resonate with real users: “The system should speak the users' language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.”

A simplified UI is simple to build, simple to extend, and simple to use. Use and context awareness require us to build applications that focus equally on code, visual design, and language (UI) design. Every page that we surface to the user should make sense to the user in context of his work and the real world. The practice of designing the language that is used on the UI offers us an extraordinary opportunity to evolve how we communicate with users to enable their work everywhere.

Saturday Dec 21, 2013

Heads Up on Displays: Exploring Google Glass Globally

As a global Google Glass Explorer, I was drawn to the HuffPo's "Google Glass: Qué Guay!" article about reactions to Google Glass in Spain. I wondered about that Urban Dictionary entry (not safe for résumés) too, as I haven’t experienced such feedback. We have Explorers in Oracle, I thought it would be interesting to hear from some about what reactions they’d encountered the around the world.

London #throughglass

London pictured through Google Glass (pic: Ultan O'Broin) 

I’m indebted to co-workers Anthony Lai (@anthonyslai), Marta Rauch (@martarauch) and Noel Portugal (@noelportugal) for sharing their experiences. Not scientific in any way, this is 'after-the-fact' guerilla-style Glass user experience (UX) ethnography, is purely qualitative, and for fun, as we move towards the creation of Heads-Up Display (HUD) UX guidance.

Out and About with Glass

@noelportugal

Noel Portugal demos Fusion CRM App on Glass

Noel Portugal demos Oracle CRM app on Glass (pic: Ultan O'Broin)

Mexico

Most people do a quick stare but are hesitant to ask about Glass. Questions came from everyone, from taxi drivers to airport gate staff. They always include, "How much do they cost?" When showing someone how Glass works, others always gathered around to catch our conversation.

United Kingdom

Again, people were hesitant to ask. On the London train I immediately felt the gaze of passengers and overheard some guys saying, "It’s Google Glass!” Finally, one approached and I demoed Glass.

In Mexico, and the UK, I was asked if Glass was going to "take off”. My response was classic UX - “it depends” - especially, if the price comes down. If Google enhances it further, I see a future with a lot of Glass around me.

@anthonyslai

Anthony S Lai

Anthony Lai (pic: Misha Vaughan)

San Francisco Bay Area

Most people know about Glass, but not a lot of details. They’re genuinely interested, and this is increasing as more Explorers appear. There’s a small amount of negative reaction to Glass (I had one bad experience), but I’d say this is because others haven’t had personal experience of Glass (yet) and privacy concerns.

China

In Beijing, people were interested when they saw Glass, but very few knew about its existence. On the street, people would gaze at you for a second, but then look away to avoid embarrassment (a cultural thing). One man in his 60s knew about Glass and asked me if I liked it or not. There was only one other occasion when I was asked on the street.

I had similar experiences in Hong Kong as in Beijing.

@martarauch

Marta Rauch

Marta Rauch (pic courtesy: Marta Rauch) 

California

Everyone who tried on Glass thought it amazing. The most common response was “Cool!”, asking when and where they could get their own, and of course, how much it cost. The current high price is an issue for many.

At live events and conferences, the audience wants to try Glass and to be photographed wearing it. People are impressed by the Glassware apps available already (including the Oracle apps). They like the features and enjoy exploring by themselves. Typically, they’ll try a Google search and take pictures and videos. Some will even try a “Google Glass-bomb” by asking Glass something they think it won’t be able to answer, but Glass does pretty well with correct responses.

I am also asked when prescription lenses will be available, and if Glass is compatible with iPhones.

At Yosemite National Park, I wore Glass to take videos of the mountains, and tourists and rangers noticed and asked to try it. I also wore Glass to a NASA moon launch at NASA Ames Research Center to get some Glass images of the event. I was so surrounded by inquisitive geeks that I had to take Glass off and get the video with my mobile phone!

@ultan

Ultan O'Broin Selfie

Ultan O'Broin (pic: Selfie) 

Ireland

In Dublin stores, staff all wanted to try my Glass. They would first ask what it was and when I offered if they wanted to try, all accepted. Shopping therefore took a while, but everyone was knocked out by the experience. They wanted their own - until they heard about the price. Everyone got the hang of using the Glass gestures, but a few were confused and wondered why Glass needed gestures as well as voice input. Nobody had any privacy concerns. Many were quick to take pictures without asking the subjects (making me very nervous). Again, the prescription lenses questions came up.

Few adults knew the name Glass. They had a vague awareness of its existence, but they’d call it Google Glasses or even The Google Eye. However, kids all knew the correct name, and what Glass could do. I didn’t allow kids to try it, nervous about getting parental consent. I had a hard enough time getting Glass back off my nine-year old to continue “digital native” research, he loved it! College students knew what Glass was, approached me, trying it out with a “wow!” reaction.

I showed Glass in my local computer store and the owner identified a use case for working remotely on a service request (for hands-free location and directions to a site and knowledge lookup). In another store, someone said it would be ideal for hyper local ads about special offers nearby.

UK

Similar experiences in London as Dublin, even in big departmental stores. Sales assistants were ready with questions and eager to try Glass. I breezed into one famous store normally very leery of camera-toting tourists, but without problems. More questions came about prescription lenses, availability, and price.

I wore Glass on the Tube. In the close quarters of a packed train, I overheard passengers whispering “Google Glass”, but nobody asked me anything. I did hear that using Glass must be a cool way to watch music videos when stuck on the Underground!

In Manchester, I didn’t turn a single head.

San Francisco Bay Area

Lots of people identified Glass and asked questions. My favorite approach was “Excuse me, Sir, but I'm from Louisiana, and I have never seen a thing before like that on your head….”.  

In San Francisco, on Black Friday, I saw the twinkle of about a dozen Glass displays on Explorers as darkness fell. In a sunglasses store, I was their third Explorer that day. The staff was ready with “no, we don’t make lenses for it!”(They tried on my Glass anyway).

General Tips on Sharing the Glass Goodness

Our Explorers all liked and used the Android-only (at time of writing) MyGlass app’s screencast features for demoing Glass to others. Screen casting saves on passing Glass around to everyone and encourages participation as the crowd gathers. If someone asks about your Glass, then it’s polite and professional to answer, and offer if they’d like to try, when possible. Get their views, and thank them. Check with guardians first if kids approach and ask about trying Glass.

Cultural and Language Dimensions

Analysis of cultural dimensions to information and communications technology usually draws on the work of Geert Hofstede and Edward T Hall. That’s for later, and perhaps we can even construct new models. In addition to the ways our Explorers noticed how people approached around the world, here’s a few other global considerations.

In China and Mexico, we noticed that the Glass English-accented voice could present issues for non-native English speakers when communicating using voice commands. Also, anyone speaking in softer tones, Chinese women for example, may not be heard that easily by Glass. Ambient or background noise doesn’t help.

When demoing, Explorers were also asked whether you could change the Glass UI language to Spanish or another language (not right now).

The voice-to-text audio seemed to mangle non-English names (in Irish for example), but impressively, Glass learned how to get them right after repeated attempts. Acronyms could also confuse Glass initially, especially domain-specific ones (Saying UX first being shown as “You X”, but then pronounced correctly).

Keep an Eye  on the Enterprise

The word is out about Glass. HUDs will take off in a bigger way in 2014, and although Glass is the most well-known HUD in the U.S., and becoming so in Europe, there are others out there. Consumer expectations will influence the enterprise UX of HUDs longer term, but enterprise use cases have been identified that make sense to build now.

More Explorers Immiment

More Glass Explorers are coming, so expect more interest and use cases (Pic: Ultan O'Broin) 

Enterprise UX is all about context and stakeholders, so exploring reactions of more than just end users is valuable. Although this was a “fun” exercise, our Explorers’ insights will help inform methodologies for more scientific UX research and practical guidance to enable enterprise users to work more efficiently with HUDs.

So, Oracle customers and partners, stay tuned to the VOX blog and Twitter (@usableapps) for UX information and outreach about the HUD trend. You can participate in the building of wearable solutions to make businesses more productive.

More Information

Thursday Dec 19, 2013

Oracle Social Network: Collaboration and Productivity Enabled with Oracle Cloud Services

Julien Laforêt (@julienlaforet), Procurement and Financials Sales Consultant, Oracle Social Network Business Leader, and User Experience Sales Ambassador, tells us why social network integration with enterprise applications is revolutionizing business communications and how Oracle customers and partners can collaborate efficiently using Oracle Social Network Cloud Service.

Millions of people (about one in seven worldwide) today are connecting using social media. The world of business has joined the trend and is now taking advantage of these same collaborative technologies. Enterprises now use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media applications externally to share knowledge about their products and services; to create user or customer communities; to communicate about events; to inform the market of product offerings; to respond to customer requests and issues; to find opportunities, influencers, new employees; and much more...

But what about social collaboration inside the enterprise?

Prior to the advent of social media, enterprises have been limited to email and meetings as a means of collaboration—tools that some have found are not always the most efficient means of communication. Take for instance this YouTube video that shows an actual collaboration business case that an enterprise “managed” using email. I had to laugh at the complexity and frustration that resulted! But such inefficiency—an email tree that involved 61 exchanges to arrive at a single decision—is no laughing matter for businesses whose priority is to increase productivity.

More and more companies are exploring enterprise social networks as an alternative and more productive means of collaboration. And the enterprise applications market is responding to this interest by delivering modern technology solutions that users are already familiar with from the consumer world.

But to bring about a return on investment, when we talk collaboration inside the enterprise, we must link it to enterprise requirements and goals. That means not just connecting people in the enterprise, but also connecting them in a secure environment with all of their business transactions, data objects, and daily tasks. For example, we might use social media to enable collaboration when working to resolve invoice discrepancies that require justifications, when negotiating or awarding contracts, when collecting information on suppliers, or when involving multiple stakeholders at different levels of authority or expertise in an approval process or transactions of common interest.

Oracle Cloud Services recognizes the value of social networking collaboration applications in the enterprise environment and has introduced Oracle Social Network—a powerful, yet intuitive application. Whether your employees use Oracle Human Capital Management, Sales, Marketing, Financials, Procurement, Projects, or other applications, Oracle Social Network provides a means of collaboration that seamlessly integrates business task flows and objects.

Oracle Social Network also provides users with the flexibility to match their preferred way of working: they can collaborate from anywhere at any time and on any device—from tablet to smart phone—using any modern web browser, or Microsoft Outlook. The result is optimal business efficiency through employee participation, sharing, and streamlined communication around tasks and objects.

Collaboration in action with Oracle Social Network: auction creation

In this example, we see how, directly from an auction, a buyer, Calvin Roth, has started a conversation so that the key stakeholders can review the contract terms and propose any amendments. See how Roger Bolton, responsible for final execution of the contract, is kept informed centrally, while other employees without access to the auction itself can still see important information about it and can collaborate on establishing a new contract template.

Shared auction in Oracle Social Network

Auction collaboration in Oracle Social Network.

Stakeholders securely collaborate on the auction document using Oracle Social Network

Stakeholders securely collaborate on the auction document using Oracle Social Network.

Directly in the document, employees can collaborate on and annotate any part of the document with their review comments:

Annotating a document with review comments.

Annotating a document with review comments. Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe PDF, and so on formats can be attached to the conversation.

The document remains attached to the auction using an Oracle Social Network conversation, which conversation members can access securely and contribute to at any time. The beauty of Oracle Social Network is if newcomers are added as contributors to the conversation, they will see all the historical conversations and work already completed by their peers.

And your company? 

Think about how your company might manage this kind of negotiation today. Visualize the number of email exchanges, the effort required to orient everyone involved in the process, and the challenges of tracking transaction progress and history.

If thinking about that makes you feel anxious about lost productivity today, then imagine how frustrated you will feel tomorrow, learning that your competitors are using collaboration tools to effectively link their employees, transactions, and business data in one seamless, productive user experience!

But don’t lose heart. Oracle Social Network Cloud Services provides a solution that enables collaboration inside your company. So those using this application can sleep better tonight knowing that their businesses are communicating efficiently—bringing the right people together to collaborate on tasks and to provide the right answers at the right time.☺

Julien is one of our latest User Experience Sales Ambassadors. You can find out more about the SAMBA program on the Oracle Applications Blog

Monday Dec 16, 2013

Designing the Oracle Voice User Experience: Oracle Shares the Lessons

Brent White, User Experience Architect in the Oracle Mobile Applications User Experience team, explains how voice technology has become popular for mobile users and how Oracle has met this opportunity to make enterprise users more productive too. By combining user experience insight and technologies, Oracle Voice has come to life for Oracle Sales Cloud customers. Brent now shares the lessons of designing voice-based task flows in the enterprise.

Voice technologies have now gained steam for mobile users, and growing numbers of consumers are becoming comfortable talking to machines. Some of us already regularly dictate a note, execute a call, or make a search by voice, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Voice has become a hands-free interface that goes well beyond a simple input mechanism and offers solutions to real design problems in the enterprise, as well as the consumer space.

Oracle’s Mobile User Experience (UX) team has been exploring voice technologies as they evolved. Our interest intensified with the release of Siri intelligent voice assistant on the Apple iPhone in 2011. By converging several technologies, Oracle has designed a mobile voice solution for our Oracle Sales Cloud customers, Oracle Voice.  And, more is to come!


Oracle Voice enables users to talk to the Oracle Sales Cloud; speaking naturally to view, edit, and add notes to customer opportunities. Whereas Siri enables users to interact with personal data on their phones such as contacts, settings and calendar, the focus of Oracle Voice is to enable users to interact with their enterprise sales data as part of an overall task flow.

Oracle Voice UI

Oracle Voice user interface. A clear UI and underlying technology that recognizes the names of important objects in the task flow are some of Oracle's shared UX design insights.

The UX team invested in technology and user research over the last two years to refine the product, testing it internally with the Oracle salesforce, and externally too with sales reps as they perform real tasks in real situations. Along the way, the team identified key guidelines for the optimal usage of voice in the enterprise. Here are some of the things learned:
  1. More and more sales reps are using voice technologies to get their work done productively. Expect enterprise use cases to increase.
  2. Voice to text is only part of the technical solution. Natural language processing (or NLP) and understanding users’ context are important related technologies that we had to develop in order to provide a voice solution. 
  3. Understand what enterprise users do, the when and the where, of being mobile. Support only such users most frequent and basic tasks. Voice is not for everything. 
  4. Make voice usage a hands-free operation. And don’t forget any legal requirements, for example when driving.
  5. Voice recognition must understand user data, such as the names of important objects in their task flows and the relationships between the objects. For example, voice must recognize the input of proper names, such as customer names, that are part of the sales cloud. 
  6. Users will want to use voice-based search to find key information. For instance, users will want to just say the name of a customer in order to see opportunity details returned. Provide for fast search and a way to integrate the results.
  7. Make the UI clear so that users know what task flow is being completed. Misrecognitions of voice inputs do happen, so provide an ability to correct misrecognitions easily and to continue. 
  8. Keep voice interaction flows short. Remember, a human is talking to a machine that understands enterprise data but hardly anything else, until it learns it. It is not a normal human conversation (yet!) so flows must be as succinct and efficient as possible. 
  9. Although some users may have had only basic experiences with voice recognition in the past, most users that we bring into our usability labs are now surprised at how well the current-state of the-art technology works and helps them to complete simple activities much more quickly (such as when dictating by voice rather than typing a note). With voice recognition accuracy improving steadily, be positioned to respond to more new scenarios of use by having your voice UX roadmap ready.
  10. Add some personality to the voice interaction. Experiment with sounds for the microphone interaction and the opportunities offered by the many natural-to-machine type voice outputs now available. Personality and emotion  adds to the voice user experience. Careful use of humor and an aspect of fun has its place in augmenting productivity on the go. 
We’re sharing these insights so that partners and customers can further appreciate and also explore further how Oracle Voice can make their users more productive and how it can be integrated across enterprise applications and data in the cloud. 

We’d like to hear your voice on the use of Oracle Voice and related technology and its usage in the enterprise. Please send us your comments, because we’re listening

Tailoring the Tailoring Through Listening: Simplified UI Outreach

The Oracle Applications user Experience (UX) Communications and Outreach team held a pilot workshop in the UK for Oracle partners, independent software vendors (ISVs) and Oracle's own solution consultants (SCs) to test drive the enablement guidance for the tailoring of the Simplified User Interfaces (UIs) for our cloud applications in forthcoming releases.

We wanted to get feedback on what content is required, its structure, and the optimal delivery formats for guidance on customizing and extending the simplified UIs for our cloud applications, Oracle Human Capital Management (HCM) Cloud and Oracle Sales Cloud. Showing examples of what guidance we might deliver, getting feedback on it, and then listening to what partners, ISVs and SCs needed to meet their all-important use cases across a range of categories is part of getting the right toolkit of resources into the right hands at the right time.

At the pilot event, we first explained the simplified UI design philosophy, demonstrated the HCM and Sales applications themselves, explained how and which flows might be chosen to fit that paradigm and what UX design patterns, component guidelines and page templates Oracle uses to build such flows. Then we explored jointly the best way to share the Oracle insight and toolkit with external stakeholders (partners, customers, and the Oracle Application Development Framework development community) in an easily consumable way to enable their productive tailoring of such simplified UIs.

Simplified UI Guidance: Feedback Collected using StickyNotes and Colored Dots

Attendees watched and listened, and as well as providing verbal feedback, recorded more on large-scale posters of existing outreach and proposed guidance for tailoring of our simplified UIs. 

We covered common use cases and requested more from the field, showed off how composers can support such scenarios for the Oracle HCM Cloud and Sales Cloud, and what Oracle ADF components and templates are used to build, customize and extend the user experience. We entered a discussion with attendees on the best formats for consuming our shared guidance and how we can work together keep that guidance fresh as the frequency of releases increases and more use cases emerge. 

A valuable exercise, we are now analysing the feedback from the event, we'll hone the resources and home in on those targets! Exciting workshop, lots of energy, and exciting times coming too we can all participate in. So, stay tuned to the Voice of User Experience blog and to @usableapps on Twitter for the latest and greatest UX team announcements about tailoring the simplified UI.

Finally, if you're a partner or developer interested in contributing use cases or thoughts on our enablement, then find the comments!

Sunday Dec 15, 2013

PeopleSoft User Experience: Jeff Robbins and Jim Marion Customer Update at OOW13

What is Oracle doing for PeopleSoft customers to make their users even more productive and satisfied in work? Listening to their needs and investing in user experience is what!

For example, a new user interface is on the way, more usable than ever. Based on a user experience (UX) that is the essence of context and easy configuration for different business processes, the PeopleSoft UX  enables users to be flexible by personalizing their applications to suit how they work, and providing users with fast entry and a streamlined experience along the way to easy task completion.

In this Oracle OpenWorld 2013 video, introduced by Oracle Sales Consultant Jim Marion, hear about the UX strategy update from Jeff Robbins of PeopleTools about delivering the new UI and more. You'll also hear Jeff explain how PeopleTools provides solutions for desktop, tablets and smart phones while taking advantage of opportunities for simplification, too.

It's all there, and more, taking our PeopleSoft customers applications investment even further.

Building on Open UI: UX Strategy for Siebel: Tablets, Pharma, Field Service, and More

Check out this great video of Oracle Sales Consultant and UX Sales Ambassador Michael Klein interviewing Uma Welingkar of the Siebel product team. Usable Apps previously chatted with Uma about the Siebel Open UI and the free resources available to implementors and builders to make the UX go further, so we were keen to know more...

This video update, made at Oracle OpenWorld 2013, explains new Siebel functionality for different roles and devices, enabling customers to offer an optimal UX for their users, one that's demanded by today's CRM users, and providing even more return on investment for Siebel customers.

Special mention is made of disconnected offering for pharma sales reps and field service engineers, citizen self-service, revamp of customer dashboards, and lots more. Whether its sales or service, as Uma says, UX is about listening to customers's stories at events like OOW13 and through customer panels and presentations and then responding with specific applications to their needs. A nice shout out for how wireframes as part of this process is there too. Customers and partners take note!

Saturday Dec 07, 2013

Simple to Use. Simple to Build. Simple to Sell: Apps UX Enables Oracle Partners in the UK

Just back from Manchester, in the UK, where the Oracle Applications User Experience (UX) team (with Oracle Worldwide Alliances and Channels) held an outreach and communications event for Oracle PartnerNetwork members, this one aimed at applications pre-sale teams.

These events are all about sharing the UX message, partner learning, and an opportunity for networking and relationship building. But, they're a two-way exercise. Applications UX get to understand local market requirements and to respond with the right message and resources for customers and partners. Attendees tell it to us straight about how to make sales deals happen, and the insight we get from pitch-back sessions where attendees use those UX messages as part of their own sales stories is invaluable.

Julien Laforêt of Oracle France delivers a sales pitch based on OSN integration with Oracle Cloud Applications

Our latest UX Sales Ambassador Julien Laforêt (@julienlaforet) of Oracle France pitches a compelling social integration message to an engaged audience. Sold!

Learning and Listening

In Manchester, attendees learned the UX fundamentals of our Cloud applications, how to communicate the business benefits of our UX science, and identify enduring return on investment for customers. For example, one big win is the simplicity with which our Oracle Sales Cloud and Oracle HCM Cloud simplified UI applications (available now in Release 7) can not only be used out of the box without training, but easily customized and extended using composers to meet customer business requirements, too. It’s simple to build on that great UX, without needing a major IT project.

The Applications UX team were listening. We heard how important social network integration is to applications customers, the must-haves for ease of use and tailoring, how regional customers must have those  localizations to do business, PaaS partner applications integration drivers, the enablement of continued ROI for coexisting applications, the need to address productivity needs of heads-down workers, getting that UX message out to Oracle Forms customers, meeting public sector procurement requirements, and more. Mobile apps were a very hot topic too, and our demoing of two Oracle apps (Oracle E-Business Suite and Oracle Cloud Applications) live and showing off the latest mobile toolkit wiki of Oracle Mobile Application Development Framework (ADF) components and UX design patterns hit the target.

Ultan O'Broin demos Oracle EBS Mobile Field Service

Live demo of the Oracle E-Business Suite Mobile Field Service app by Ultan O’Broin (@ultan) (Springboard UX design pattern shown on screen).

Applications UX showed and shared demos for applications desktop and mobile UIs, all built using UX design patterns and Oracle ADF, and delivered the latest info on the Simplified UI Release 7 applications and how to use composers to extend those applications. We also revealed emerging innovations and business cases, demoing wearables, for example. The CRM Google Glass app was a big hit!

Noel Portugal demos Fusion CRM app on Google Glass

Noel Portugal (@noelportugal) demonstrates a CRM app live on Google Glass.

Getting Involved 

So, customers, developers, customers, are you preparing to join us in 2014? Watch out for more enablement events coming to your country or region next year. Stay tuned to the Voice of User Experience (VOX) blog and to @usableapps on Twitter for the latest details.

See you signed up for one of our communications and outreach events in 2014!

Saturday Nov 16, 2013

Building Mobile Apps with Oracle UX and ADF Mobile Made Easy: Design Wiki Available

The Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF) Mobile and Oracle Applications User Experience (UX) teams have published a wiki for builders of mobile apps for tablets and smartphones using enterprise methodology. Bookmark the wiki now!

The wiki provides Oracle developers, customers and partners with a mobile toolkit  enabling the building of great mobile apps for today's workers who demand modern, consumer-like UX while being productive in completing tasks. Check out the information on the Oracle ADF Mobile components and their usage, and how the UX design patterns dovetail with the technology to provide reusable, easily applied solutions for developers. The design guidance now includes content and gestures, and the integration of device features such as voice and camera capabilities. 

ADF Mobile Design enables code once solutions for platforms and devices

Oracle ADF Mobile enables productive building through code-once solutions for platforms and devices.

There is some great task flow explanations too. Using a sample sales app, the wiki shows how tasks and device features are best designed to reflect the requirements for both tablet and smart phone users.

Watch out for more developer productivity resources and outreach coming from the Oracle Applications User Experience,  Oracle ADF, and Oracle PartnerNetwork teams. And, if you're in a position to share the results of these shared Oracle ADF and UX resources by telling us about your built mobile apps and use cases, reach out using the comments or through the customer participation channels on the Usable Apps website and let us know.

We'll share the UX goodness and you can share your greatness!

Visual Design for Any Enterprise UI with ODTUG: UX Questions Answered

The Oracle Development Tools User Group (ODTUG) webinar on the Visual Design for any Enterprise UI was a great success with nearly 150 participants signed up. The Oracle Applications User Experience team is delivering a series of webinars through ODTUG on building great-looking, usable apps, and the visual design subject, along the one coming up on wireframing, is always a crowd puller. The visual design webinar is branding-centric, a fun subject, topical, and something we can all relate to, so it's a great way to learn how to make a great enterprise UI for your customers and clients. 

You can read more about the webinar content on the Usable Apps blog, but it is always fresh, this time updated to include insights on Facebook colors, the Yahoo! logo, those Apple iOS7 icons, and measuring usability and visual design. Applications user experience is all about being modern and compelling, and if it's hot in UX, and relevant to enterprise UX enablement, we're on it!

 title=

Oracle ADF 12c Data Visualization Sunburst Component

There was a lively question and answer session at the end of the webinar.  Athough the answer to any UX question that looks for a "yes" or "no" answer is, of course, "it depends" (hat tip: Jakob Nielsen), here's a sample:

Q: Should your designs always follow a color paradigm of a logo for say, some company?

A: Don't copy or steal, but inform yourself of branding and visual design best practices and then apply them to your enterprise UI's requirements. Adapt the best practices to communicate your key messages and to quickly "hook" the user. Before rollout, do some usability testing with representative users, and when you're live, measure the usability, and respond to feedback. Using smart coding techniques means you can make changes in a centralized, scalable way. A conservative approach is best. 

Q: Have you read the book by Edward Tufte on the visualization of quantitative information?

A: His book, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information is a great resource. Visualization of information is a vital UX requirement in the enterprise. You can find more information visualization guidance for free from the Oracle Applications UX team with the OBIEE Dashboard design patterns and guidelines and the Oracle Endeca UI Design Pattern Library. The Oracle ADF DVT components enable developers to be productive when building data visualization solutions.

Q: How does this (guidance) change for numeric data? For instance, can we apply these techniques to spreadsheets?

A: You can adapt these techniques for spreadsheets, yes. Lay out your information logically, use headings to organize and padding for readability, show the information in locale or common formats your users will understand, and don't overload the spreadsheet with lots of garish colors. A small number of primary colors, supported by a legend and made accessible, is best. Use readable, conservative font faces and allow users to change the viewing size if necessary. For faster access and breadth of information, consider graphs and charts visualizations with action components to then drill down into spreadsheets. Remember, Oracle ADF provides for the integration of Microsoft Excel workbooks and to detach and view application tables in Excel-like ways, too.

Q: If you are design phobic but your usability is good, should you hire?

A: If you must prioritize, then invest in a designer for icons (especially for mobile devices). Being smart with coding and leveraging technology to help you with color changes, font fallback solutions (using a centralized CSS) and so on, testing with common browsers, along with the other points covered in the webinar, make for development scale and productivity. However, as icons and graphics will most likely be binary files (let's not go there with SVG), bringing in designer expertise once-off is worth it. Remember, that its's usable websites that users consider beautiful - not the other way around - and well-designed iconography contributes to productivity and that all-important positive impression that users form rapidly. Icons are communication devices, central to your UX and the emotional engagement with your brand, so hiring a qualified artist is a wise investment to make if you can (investing in a copywriter is smart too).

Great questions! A copy of the presentation and the webinar recording is available to ODTUG members. You can ask your own questions by attending such webinars and engaging with our other outreach and events. Follow @usableapps on Twitter and the VOX blog for news of upcoming opportunities.

Sunday Oct 20, 2013

Making it GREAT! Oracle Partners Building Apps Workshop with UX and ADF in UK

Yes, making is what it's all about, with Oracle partners doing the making of great looking usable apps with the Oracle Applications Development Framework (ADF) and user experience (UX) toolkit at our workshop in the UK. And what an energy-packed and productive event at the Oracle UK (Thames Valley Park) location it was. Partners learned the fundamentals of enterprise applications UX, why it's important, all about visual design, how to wireframe designs, and then how to build their already-proven designs in ADF.

There was a day dedicated to mobile apps, learning about mobile design principles, free mobile UX and ADF resources from Oracle, and then trying it out. The workshop wrapped up with the latest Release 7 Simplified UIs, Mobilytics, and other innovations from Oracle, and a live demo of a very neat ADF Mobile Android app built by an Oracle contractor. And, what a fun two days both Grant Ronald of ADF and myself had in running the workshop with such a great audience, too!

I particularly enjoyed the wireframing and visual design sessions' interaction; and seeing some outstanding work done by partners. Of note from the UK workshop were innovative design features not seen before; making me all the happier as developers brought their own ideas from the world of consumer technology, applying strong themes of mobility, simplicity, and social to the building of work apps with enterprise development methodology. 

Partner wireframe exercise. Applying mobile design principles and UX design patterns means you're already productively making great usable apps! Next, over to Oracle ADF Mobile with it!

Partner wireframe exercise. Applying mobile design principles and UX design patterns to wireframes means you're already productively making great usable apps! Next, over to Oracle ADF Mobile with the solution!

Two simple examples from the design session for a mobile field service app illustrated this trend: Participants realized how the UX and device functionality of the super UK-based Hailo app could influence their designs (the London cabbie influence, maybe?), and the way they now used maps, cameras, barcode scanners and microphones on their smartphones could be adapted for tasks in work too. Of course, ADF Mobile has the device integration solutions to help too! I wonder will similar U.S. workshops in Silicon Valley see an Uber UX influence? (LOL!)

That we also had partners experienced with Oracle Forms who could now offer a roadmap from Forms to Simplified UI and Mobile using ADF, and do it through through the cloud, really made this particular workshop go "ZING!!!" for me.

Many thanks to the Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) team for organizing this event with us, and to the representatives of the Oracle partners that showed up and participated so well. That's what I love about this outreach. It's a two-way, solid value-add for all.

Interested? Why would partners and developers with ADF skills sign up for this workshop?

Here's why:

Learn to use the Oracle Applications User Experience design patterns as the usability building blocks for applications development in Oracle Application Development Framework. The workshop enables attendees to build modern and visually compelling desktop and mobile applications that look and behave like Oracle Applications Cloud Service*, integrated with your partner applications, whether for new, or co-existing applications deployments. Partners learn to offer customers and clients more than just coded functionality; instead they can offer a complete user experience with a roadmap for continuing ROI from licensed applications while creating more business and attracting the kudos of other makers of apps as they're wowed by the evidence.

So, if you're a partner and interested in attending one of these workshops and benefitting from such learning, as well as having a platform to show off some of your own work, stay well tuned to your OPN channels, to this blog, the VoX blog, and to the @usableapps Twitter account too.

Can't wait? For developers and partners, some key mobile resources to explore now

* Oracle Applications Cloud Service is the product line name for software as service (SaaS) and On Demand versions of Oracle Fusion Applications.

Wednesday Oct 02, 2013

Oracle Publishes PeopleSoft User Experience Guidelines

Mrudula Sreekanth, Oracle Applications User Experience, tells us about sharing the latest PeopleSoft User Experience guidance.

The PeopleSoft Applications User Experience team is excited to announce the release of the PeopleSoft User Experience (UX) Guidelines. These UX Guidelines contain information about using key PeopleSoft components to create highly usable, efficient, and productive experiences for Oracle customers.

Oracle Applications User Experience PeopleSoft UX Guidelines

PeopleSoft UX Guidelines and Principles to Create a Great User Experience 

Several PeopleSoft customers participated in a survey in December 2012, which helped us identify the following topics, all covered in the first release of the guidelines.

Why Do We Need UX Guidelines?

With PeopleTools 8.53 and PeopleSoft Applications 9.2, you see more modern and visually appealing features being delivered by PeopleSoft. With the help of these UX guidelines, customers and partners can not only design and tailor their own user experience but also ensure consistency with the features designed by PeopleSoft. 

The UX guidelines explain each topic in detail, display relevant images, and provide usage guidelines. 

UX Guidelines Examples

The following image explains what a WorkCenter is and the advantages of using it.

WorkCenter image

UX How's and Why's of PeopleSoft WorkCenter 

The image below shows a train with sub-steps which takes users through complex tasks, one step at a time.

Train (Guided Process) Image

Train Steps Covered in the Guided Process Guideline

The next image shows the usage guidelines for Pivot Grids. Relevant usage guidelines have been provided for all the other topics as well.  

Pivot Grids Image

Pivot Grid Usage Explained   

The PeopleSoft UX Guidelines enable customers to design and tailor the ultimate user experience for their organization. Following the guidelines ensures consistency across applications. The guidelines also help in choosing the right pattern for any scenario.

Send any feedback and suggestions on the PeopleSoft UX guidelines directly to the PeopleSoft UX team using the comments feature below, your input will be forwarded to Mrudula.

Tuesday Aug 13, 2013

Building Great Looking Usable Apps Productively in Brazil

If you’re following the Usable Apps blog you’ll know that the Applications User Experience team has a great outreach program to enable Oracle customers and partners to build great looking usable apps by applying shared UX expertise from Oracle Fusion Applications with the Oracle Application Development Framework toolkit. This enablement happens worldwide, and recently the Applications UX team, together with the Oracle ADF team and Oracle PartnerNetwork held a Building Great-Looking Usable Apps workshop in São Paulo, Brazil.

Great Looking Usable Apps, São Paulo, Brazil Workshop

Some 20 partner attendees first learned about the UX principles for enterprise applications, why UX is important in business, and about visual design for enterprise UIs. Partner developers then got to try out this knowledge though fun, participatory wireframing exercises for desktop and mobile UIs, followed by bringing wireframes to life in code with collaborative hands-on building sessions using Oracle ADF with Oracle JDeveloper and UX design patterns, component guidelines, and other resources. A showcase of up-to-the-minute user experience innovations by the Applications UX team ended two days of a great return on investment for the partners' developers, consultants, analysts and leads who attended the event.

Brazil partners invitation

The event was facilitated by the local Oracle Brasil team who recruited participants, set up location by coordinating closely with the Applications UX team in Oracle HQ, and even contributed local UX insights over the two days to bring the UX message home to participants and visitors alike! Everyone learned something new, valuable, practical and most important of all, how to solve real business problems using enterprise methodology to deliver results that mean productive and satisfied users of enterprise apps and more ROI for licensers of Oracle applications.

Wireframing a service request task flow. With Oracle JDeveloper on standby, Brazil's Oracle partners get the idea!

Wireframing a service request task flow. With Oracle JDeveloper on standby, Brazil's Oracle partners get the idea!

All the makings of a great developer relations outreach program were there: delivery of technical insight, common sense approach to a new domain (UX), fun, challenge, revelations into new techniques and different ways of doing things, respect for each other's abilities, open and candid exchange of ideas, the triumph of giving over taking, and most of all a display of enthusiasm across all levels of ability and experience.

So, watch out for more UX enablement workshops coming to your region soon. And don’t forget there's other forms of UX outreach to suit your needs too: blogs, webinars, websites, online seminars, advocacy programs, and more; the Applications User Experience is all about sharing research, design, and implementation insights enabling Oracle ADF and Java enterprise developers, customers and partners to build great looking usable apps productively, worldwide.

Thursday Aug 08, 2013

Mobile User Experience Design

Whether on-premise or cloud enterprise applications, workers expect their mobile experiences to “delight and excite.” Applications must be usable, consistently simple, intuitive, and above all, contextual while enabling productivity. The applications must look great, too—after all, your mobile device is something you rely on throughout the day.

The key to building successful mobile applications that meet these ever-demanding expectations—true no matter the platform or deployment—is to begin by focusing on real workers performing real tasks in real work environments. 

The Oracle Applications User Experience team has done just that, undertaking an intensive and ongoing effort to understand the worldwide mobile workforce . A result of our user research: 10 key design practices that address common usability challenges of these on-the-go workers.

These practices, presented recently for some of our partners and customers at the Building Great-Looking Usable Apps workshop  by Lynn Rampoldi-Hnilo and Brent White, have been tested in our labs by actual users performing real tasks and have informed our own reusable and adaptable mobile design patterns  and guidelines.

Interested in learning more? 

Stay tuned to Misha Vaughan’s Voice of User Experience  (VoX) blog and your customer and partner channels so that you can learn about workshops or other deliverables that focus on building great-looking usable mobile applications.

See:

Wednesday Jul 31, 2013

User Interface | Design Considerations

When it comes to creating superior applications, the central design considerations remain the same, no matter whether you’re building interfaces for desktop or mobile workers. Karen Scipi explores user interface (UI) design for enterprise applications, an area even more prescient as cloud-based applications offer opportunities for optimized UIs of different types using the same data. 

You must understand who your workers are, what work they do, and the functionality that will most enable them and their productivity in their specific work environments.  

  • A desktop user interface refers to an interface that’s optimized for tasks that are performed over extended periods of time, usually in an office.  
  • A simplified user interface refers to an interface that’s optimized quick access, high-volume, self-service tasks that can be completed on any device and from any location.

For example, the task flow for an accounts payable clerk who typically works in an office would differ from the sales manager who travels and works mostly on his mobile device. Which user interface design would work best in each of these scenarios? The answer depends on several heuristics and data points.

When considering which user interface to design, think about multiple aspects of the workers, their roles, and their tasks. 

Workers

Consider how workers’ experiences can vary. Keep in mind that the one-size-fits-all analogy doesn’t work when it comes to designing a user interface. 
Even those who use desktop interface functionality for the majority of their tasks can benefit from simplified user interface flows. But getting a sense of who your workers are and how they are working most of the time will help you better understand what Oracle Fusion Applications functionality they will most benefit from and which user interface might better enable their work and productivity. 

When you think about workers’ experiences, ask yourself questions like these:

  • Where in the world do these workers work? 
  • What do workers’ work environments look like? For example, do they work primarily in an office, on a train, or in a warehouse?
  • With whom do the workers engage, and how to they engage with others? For example, do they use collaboration tools or social media?

For example:

 Worker Role  Typical Work Environment
 Order Processor  Office
 Sales Representative  On the go

Tasks

Identify tasks that are central to workers’ roles. But what constitutes a central task? Central tasks are typically the 10% of tasks that 90% of the workers spend 90% of their time performing.

When you think about worker tasks, ask yourself questions like these:

  • What specific tasks do workers’ perform? 
  • Are the tasks self-service tasks for all workers?
  • Which tasks are central to workers’ roles?
  • How do workers perform these tasks? 
  • How frequently are these tasks performed?
  • Do the tasks require short or long periods of time to complete?
  • Do the tasks require significant or minimal data entry activities?
  • Where do workers work? On a bus, a train, in a warehouse?
  • Based on workers’ roles, work environments, and tasks, which applications, devices, and tools best support their work? 

For example:

Worker Role  Typical Work Environment  Typical Work Tasks Example Applications, Devices, and Tools
 Order Processor  Office Data entry

  • Order management and email applications
  • Computer with keyboard
  • Phone

 Sales Representative  On the go Engages with existing and prospective customers to maintain and establish relationships and to sell products and services

  • CRM and email applications
  • Mobile and tablet devices
  • Phone, collaboration, social media tools

Information and information design

When you think about information and design considerations for different types of information, ask yourself questions like these:

  • What types of information, such as customer or vendor records, accounting data, trends, issues, news, ratings, and so on do workers need access to? 
  • How would information best be displayed to enable the interpretation of it? In a workbook, in a form, in a list, in an analytic? 
  • What key information does the worker need in a specific task flow?
  • Can the information be simplified by reducing data and features, or by eliminating corner cases that are displayed in the user interface?

For example:

 Worker Role  Typical Work Environment Examples of Information and Information Display Types
 Order Processor  Office

  • Existing and new customer order records
  • Forms, lists, workbooks

 Sales Representative  On the go

  • Existing and new customer records, including customer contact, ratings, and qualification information
  • Sales, trends, and issues analytics
  • Lists, notes

Interested in learning more?

See:

About

Welcome to the Usable Apps in the Cloud blog.

Learn more about us at
Usable Apps

Search

Categories
Archives
« March 2015
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
29
30
31
    
       
Today