Sunday Apr 26, 2015

Book Review with a Real-World Application from a Master | Keeping It Simple, SaaSy

By Floyd Teter, Director, Strategy Group, Oracle Higher Education Practice at Sierra-Cedar, Inc., and guest contributor

Floyd Teter (@fteter), Oracle ACE Director, Oracle Applications User Experience Speaker, ORCLville blogger, and main man behind ”simple is the new cool” shares his thoughts on a book about Lean UX.

A few months back, I received an interesting request from my Oracle Applications User Experience sensei, Ultan O’Broin (Mr. @usableapps). Ultan asked me to read and share opinions on the book Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience (Jeff Gothelf with Josh Seiden). I read a few reviews myself and got excited about what Gothelf was trying to do: build a framework for applying Lean principles to user experience (UX) design. I agreed to give it a go.

Lean UX: Applying Lean Principle to Improve User Experience on Amazon

Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience by Jeff Gothelf with Josh Seiden

First, let’s be a bit more specific about the book. The intent is not just to apply broad Lean or Agile principles (Gothelf references both, sometimes interchangeably); the real intent is to apply the Scrum methodology to UX. It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a fan and heavily engaged with both Scrum and UX, so I was excited to dive in.

The meat of the book is divided into three sections: Introduction and Principles, Process, and Making It Work. Each section contains multiple chapters.

In the first section, Gothelf lays out the argument for Lean UX: internet-based software distribution, lower barriers to market entry, continuous integration, agile software development, continuous deployment—all activities that put pressure on teams to shorten cycles to release product early and often, critical to meeting the faster innovation cycles in the SaaS and PaaS world.

Gothelf proposes Lean UX as a deeply collaborative and cross-functional method that enables teams to build a shared understanding about UX design by focusing on objective goals rather than being distracted by deliverables and documents. Having presented this argument, Gothelf then discusses the three foundations of Lean UX: design thinking, agile software development, and the Lean Startup method of build-measure-learn feedback loops, originally founded by Eric Ries.

Design thinking, as defined by design firm IDEO CEO and president Tim Brown, is “innovation powered by . . . direct observation of what people want and need in their lives and what they like or dislike about the way particular products are made, packaged, marketed, sold and supported . . . a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity.” That’s a real mouthful, but it comes down to designing elegant and simple solutions that people will want to use.

Gothelf defines Agile methods by reviewing the Agile core values and utilizing Scrum to apply these core values. This is not new, but it was good to see Gothelf sign up for using Scrum in UX design. Makes sense.

Finally, Gothelf promotes build-measure-feedback loops. I’m still mostly onboard here, although my preferred viewpoint is a build-observe-learn approach (with observe being mostly watching and listening).

Throughout Part I, which is really a discussion of principles and theory, I’m thinking Gothelf could be my twin brother from a different mother. We’re both singing off the same sheet of music. Part II does seem to be more of a “difficult second album” though.

In Part II, Gothelf applies the principles discussed in Part I, a journey where the metaphorical wheels begin to come off the tour bus. Lean UX relies heavily on written deliverables and formal structure for starting up a UX design effort:

  • A hypothesis statement, with assumptions, hypotheses, outcomes, personas, and features 
  • A problem statement, with product and/or system goals, problem description, and a description of an explicit request for improvement that doesn’t dictate a specific solution 
  • A business assumptions worksheet, including prioritized assumptions 
  • A recommendation for written subhypotheses 
  • A written declaration of metrics to be used along with current state of each metric 
  • A written list of features matched to groups of user personas 

After we’re done with writing (he comments “finally!”), Gothelf proceeds to lay out some pretty formal structure for design studio sessions, including time-boxing presentation and critique, iteration and refinement, and team idea generation. Gothelf also argues for creating a style guide prior to design (as opposed to building concurrently as you progress and learn).

This is the point where Lean UX stopped making complete sense in my world. Agile and Scrum make a point of minimizing written deliverables, especially anything that might be a barrier to getting started with the actual design and build work; the idea being the sooner you get into feedback loops, the quicker you’ll deliver a product of outstanding quality. Gothelf acknowledges this in Part I, yet his recommended process is based on the opposite. Gothelf continues with the formality and structure throughout Parts II and III.

I’m now hard-wired against formality in development; software development cycles in the cloud almost demand that. Partners and developers need to create real solutions fast—formality presents the risk of getting wrapped up in management processes that distract from the essential tasks required to design, innovate and build rapidly.

A final point of contention for me comes with how feedback loops are addressed. These loops are mentioned a founding principle of Lean UX in Part I, yet there is almost no discussion of how to leverage their value (by observing and learning). How do you elicit feedback? How is feedback filtered for relevance and priority? What techniques are used to assure the user that he/she was heard . . . which, in turn, elicits even more feedback. Discussion? Tips? Techniques? Zip. Zero. Bupkis. Notta. Nothing.

My own applied techniques? I suggest following the discover-design-deploy approach on the Oracle UX Direct website.

Discover-Design-Deploy from Oracle UX Direct

Discover-design-deploy approach from UX Direct

Begin by recording the required features on Scrum story cards, cutting to the essence of what’s important from your discovery stage. I’d then follow the Scrum process for estimating and prioritizing features prior to starting the first design sprint. Now, I’ve tried lots of virtual Scrum boards for geographically-dispersed project teams to keep track of everything, but Trello remains a favorite. Sprint productivity can be further accelerated by use of UX design patterns and guidelines so that developers can focus in on technical areas.

Trello

Trello virtual Scrum board

In summary: The book presents great conceptual ideas, but the approach and implementation didn’t rock my world of delivering on enterprise applications UX today. It left me hoping for more.

My point of view would be to stay away from structural overheads and formality, and stay truer to Agile concepts. I’d recommend a mix tape The Elements of Scrum (Chris Sims and Hillary Louise Johnson) and the simple discover-design, and deploy approach to UX on the Usable Apps website.

Splash BI Reports mobile app

Splash BI reports app built using Agile

You’ll quickly build simple, elegant solutions.

Read more Floyd Teter insights on ORCLVille.

Saturday May 31, 2014

General Availability: Simplified User Experience Design Patterns eBook

Karen Scipi (@karenscipi) writes:

The Oracle Applications User Experience team is delighted to announce that our Simplified User Experience Design Patterns for the Oracle Applications Cloud Service eBook is available for free.

Working with publishers McGraw-Hill, we're making our eBook available in EPUB, MOBI, and PDF versions.

Simplified UI eBook

The Simplified User Experience Design Patterns for the Oracle Applications Cloud Service eBook

The eBook illustrates the same user experience (UX) design patterns and page types and components guidelines that Oracle uses to build simplified user interfaces (UIs) for the Oracle Sales Cloud and Oracle Human Capital Management (HCM) Cloud.

Click to register and download your free copy of the eBook

UX design patterns and guidelines offer big wins for applications builders because they're proven and reusable solutions applied using Oracle technology. Our eBook enables developers to build a compelling user experience consistently, boosting developer productivity, and shortening the overall time to put a modern user experience into the hands of users.

Developers use the eBook to build their own SUIs
Developers use the eBook to build their own simplified UIs with Oracle Application Developer Framework (ADF) and Oracle JDeveloper

Oracle partners, customers and the Oracle ADF community can now share in the Oracle Applications User Experience science and design expertise behind those awesome simplified UIs in the Oracle Applications Cloud, and begin to build their own great simplified UIs too!

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!

Wednesday Jul 24, 2013

Resources for Building Oracle ADF Applications

Interested in building a compelling, consistent, and flexible user experience with a user interface to support simple, intuitive interactions but not sure where to start? 

This entry lists the best resources to use to get started building great applications using the Oracle Applications Development Framework (ADF) technology. However, if you’re already an ADF developer, you can fast-track your learning curve by checking out our top 10 reads: Top 10 Things to Read If You’re a Fusion Applications Developer.

List of Oracle Fusion Applications resources

List of Oracle Fusion Applications resources 

The following table highlights the four key resources that we use when building ADF components and pages for Oracle Fusion Applications and offers examples for when to apply the information in each of these resources.

I’m building an ADF table, and I need to . . . Resource Use when . . .
Identify components and guidelines that I will need Oracle ADF Component Specifications You want to see examples and demonstrations of components, validators, converters, and miscellaneous tags, along with a property editor to see how attribute values affect a component.
Determine information design and  elements Oracle ADF Rich Client User Interface Guidelines

Your focus is data visualization, rich web user experience, visual development.

For example, if you were building a table, you would find guidelines for table design and table elements. Specific design and element guidelines include:

  • Layout
  • Row banding
  • Column formatting
  • Row height
  • Vertical and horizontal scrolling
  • Read-only or editable data

Add specific core and task-dependent features and interactions Oracle Fusion Applications Usage Guidelines

You’re looking for Oracle Fusion Applications-specific features and interactions that enable a cohesive user experience through the consistent placement and behavior of user interface elements.

Examples include:

  • Common and special icon types
  • Tasks pane
  • UI Shell

Apply  common and proven design and interaction patterns that align with industry best practices Oracle Fusion Applications Design Patterns  You want to apply common design patterns. Design patterns comprise common page designs that are built to accommodate common requirements that have been identified by the industry as best practices and have been proven by real users in our usability labs. Generally, our design patterns are delivered through JDeveloper as composite components, or they offer instructions on how to use ADF components.

Interested in learning more? 

See:

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