Oracle Opens New Usability Lab on Former Sun Campus
By Applications User Experience on Jul 12, 2011
In April, Oracle’s user experience labs celebrated the opening of another resource—a usability lab in Santa Clara at the former Sun Microsystems campus. Sun was acquired by Oracle in 2010.
The newly remodeled usability lab, at 4220 Network Circle, or Building 20, is a corporate resource available to Oracle teams around the world, according to Jeremy Ashley, Vice President of Oracle Applications User Experience. The grand opening ceremony on April 26 brought many Oracle Applications User Experience team members to Santa Clara. Members of the Java and Solaris User Experience teams resident at the Santa Clara campus also filled the two-room usability lab.
George Hackman, Jr., Senior Director, Operations User Experience, said the new lab offers strong evidence of how Oracle has continued to invest in the user experience. “We are bringing best practices to newly acquired companies,” he said. “It’s not just about the lab; it’s about the whole process of creating a great user experience.”
Jatin Thaker, Senior Manager, Usability Labs User Experience, said the new labs are primarily for the Java and Solaris user experience teams. The goal is to provide a place that teams can use for hardware integration. “We also want to partner with Oracle Consulting Services and tailor the labs to a hardware-software-complete mindset.”
Photos by Martin Taylor, Oracle Applications User Experience
Jatin Thaker, left, who manages Oracle’s usability labs, looks on as Jeremy Ashley, Vice President of Oracle Applications User Experience, cuts a red ribbon and declares the new Santa Clara usability labs open for business.
During the grand opening, Ashley cut the ceremonial red ribbon, which was strung between the doorways of the two lab rooms, and officially declared the lab open. “This is a great campus and a great expansion of the usability labs. These are a central resource that anyone at Oracle can use.”
New Resource for Java, Solaris Teams
Jeff Hoffman, a user experience developer and the lead designer for the Java user experience team, works in Santa Clara and keeps an eye on the new labs for the Redwood Shores-based labs support group. “It’s great to have labs local because there are a lot of Java developers here,” he said. “It’s a very functional lab that will work well. We’re very happy it’s being cared for.” Hoffman likes the ability to get remote participants for user experience research. The morning of this interview, Hoffman and other team members had watched a study being conducted in Burlington, Massachusetts.
George Hackman, Jr., Senior Director of Operations User Experience, cuts into a cake at the official opening of Oracle’s Santa Clara usability labs, which are located on the former Sun campus.
According to Scott Kaneshiro, Principal Lead, Usability Labs, “We wanted to bring the Santa Clara lab up to the same standards as other Oracle usability labs. Part of the effort involved installing digital recording capabilities. These digital recorders connect to servers at Oracle headquarters in Redwood Shores so that anything being recorded in Santa Clara can be watched at any of Oracle’s other lab sites.”
The Santa Clara lab consists of two rooms: a control room and a user room with cameras. A one-way mirror separates the rooms so that testers and observers in the control room can observe test participants in the user room. The cameras can be panned, tilted, and zoomed to capture the facial expressions of participants in the user room. Both rooms also contain new microphones with better clarity and upgraded hardware systems and display monitors.
The biggest changes are in the control room. “We painted and arranged office equipment so that you can do design work in here, not just usability lab work,” Scott said. One wall is now white, and can double as an area for projection. Whiteboards in both rooms make the space friendly for meetings, as well.
The Santa Clara lab is the third Oracle usability lab in the San Francisco Bay Area. The other labs are in Pleasanton and at Oracle’s headquarters in Redwood Shores.