When user experience (UX) professionals talk about design patterns, it's wise to nuance the term, and qualify it. These patterns are proven, usability best practices and solutions for common problems. When developers talk about design patterns, they're referring to software development architecture or coding patterns based on frameworks or languages, and implemented through their development environment.
And then, of course, we have that antipattern business to contend with, too!
So, dev outreach folks, know your audience and adopt terminology and messaging appropriately upfront. Otherwise, be prepared to spend some time in the translation business or answering questions about code.
Personally, I think usability best practices and guidelines for developers works well. However, when we do refer to design patterns in the UX sense, then we need to make sure the context is clear and qualify the term.
Learning to solder at the Manchester Mini Maker Faire
I didn't present or demonstrate at the event this time, my justification for attendance being research into the maker community and how we could reach out to individual, younger, and more innovative makers, as well as understanding their needs and wants.
From the UX tech perspective, I see the Maker Faire crowd as a ripe resource for usability research into younger users and learners, and fitting in somewhere into the Oracle Applications User Experience simplification roadmap. We should look closely at three Maker Faire fave technologies in particular, and how they could be used in the enterprise space to solve real business problems:
Bring Your Own Device (known as BYOD) is an increasingly popular information and communications technology (ICT) strategy where users are allowed by their employers to use whatever device they prefer to do their jobs and to integrate these devices with other services and data. Devices are personally owned by the user or may be funded by the employer.
The future help desk in the BYOD world?
Yep, BYOD is on the uptake and a hot topic in user experience (UX). Driving forces are many: the influence of what users are doing in their personal lives, powerful emotional attachments to brands and delightful web and mobile-based user experiences, exposure to many more device options, working a company with a strong acquisitions record, and so on. Major technology players are reacting strategically.
With BYOD comes the advantages of superior, personalized user experience, flexibility of working, increased productivity at work, less training needed, and so on. The good is nuanced by issues of corporate liability, security of devices and data from loss or virus attack, integrating a multiplicity of solutions, maintaining versions, scaling the device support offered, questions about control over assets, and other concerns. For some, BYOD is a Bring Your Own Disaster waiting to happen. But, evidence of accelerating BYOD uptake is strong as explained, along with the top pros and cons, in this super infographic.
BYOD may be considered as part of what we call the consumerization of information technology (COIT) in the workplace, where expectations about applications and device UX in work are set by those familiar consumer apps and websites used in an employee’s personal capacity. For me, BYOD is the ultimate strategic expression of device personalization in work. There are plenty of applications UX research areas to explore.
For example, we could investigate how productive are users of apps on different devices. Or, what are the user experience expectations influencing apps? How can apps design be responsive (or neutral), depending on what the user wants to use or do? What are the integration, security, or performance aspects of apps on all these different devices? How can a range of apps perform effectively, efficiently and satisfy a wide audience’s requirements as new devices rapidly appear? How important is consistency of look and feel, and interaction, across devices (ever compared gestures on different mobile devices)? What about user frustration or confusion with so many choices and self-reliance? How can support organizations react? You get the idea...
So, what does BYOD mean for apps in the world of work? Well, for example, in the CRM space, users may use a range of official and personal tools, everything from Microsoft Outlook to RIM BlackBerry smart phones, Apple iPads, Microsoft Excel, Google Search, Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on. The data for all these devices and apps is centrally managed in a database and processed by business intelligence software (and shown using cool visual analytics such as those in our dashboard design patterns), integrating with solutions on–premise or in the cloud. This all makes sense. CRM sales users generally hate the idea of using enterprise apps. It’s all about sales for those guys and gals, so accommodating their context of use through personal device choice is critical.
BYOD interest has been really driven by mobile phone and apps in the workplace with employees using their personal devices to make business calls, installing corporate business apps to perform their work tasks, or integrate with social media or other consumer apps from app stores to help them get their jobs done quickly and easily. However, BYOD goes much further than mobile or the security issues that seem to dominate right the discussion right now. Examples of, or BYOD in the UX area, might include:
Using personally purchased laptops that are not available through the corporate procurement policy on the corporate network. For example, users connecting their Apple Mac Book Airs to a network in an organization where only Microsoft Windows-based PCs and desktops are officially distributed.
Being allowed to pick and purchase any device preferred and expensing the cost to the employer who then supports the device officially.
Using personal tablets (iPad, Nexus 7, Kindle Fire, and so on) in the field loaded with business and personal apps, while traveling, visiting or working at remote locations.
Catching up on the latest press releases and other docs using an eReader powered by a Raspberry Pi processor just before leaving the hotel to go to that business meeting, or maybe refreshing your mind about the latest release notes while servicing a solution at a customer site.
Connecting home PCs or smart televisions to a corporate intranet to use work email or collaboration tools.
Help desks and support solutions providing a range of user friendly, walk-in, or concierge solutions for any device, such as the Apple Genius Bar approach. The final nail in the coffin of the “contact your sys admin” error message!
Using gaming consoles, gesture-based, augmented reality or even wearable devices available to consumers, to run business applications or process information. For example, a CRM user might use Google Glass specs to visualize Google Maps or Analytics for sales leads, and then use Google Translate about multilingual opportunities while on the move.
Using their devices to connect a knowledge-based mobile service solution to a 3-D printer and print a replacement part or prototype for review at a customer site.
Using Microsoft Kinect or a Leap Motion system to move market opportunities around a large scale map by gesture, modeling different territories sales scenarios, and so on.
Here's one of our Oracle Fusion Applications User Experience AdvocatesSten Vesterli (@stevesterli) talking with our own Kathy Miedema about how consumer expectations about the look and usability of modern, attractive websites are driving applications user experience (UX) in the enterprise and how Oracle Fusion Applications delivers!
Great video, also offering some insights into what the Oracle Application Development Framework af:table faces component and persistence change framework means for user personalization too. The building blocks of our UX are the Oracle Fusion Applications patterns and guidelines, now available for developers to take our usability even further and to give their user interfaces a totally awesome consumer makeover.
I'd like to highlight one of our guidelines that you really do need to know about for that modern UX: The Contextual Actions guideline.
Contextual Actions guideline explains how to elegantly streamline users access to information without navigating away from tasks
Contextual actions are a supercool and fast way for you to let users have more information right there in the user interface. Users hate navigating away for this kind of stuff as its a total productivity killer. Now, the contextual action dialog box gives users easy access to a whole bunch of objects and actions right away while they stay engaged with, and completing, the immediate task.
Read more about how Oracle Fusion Applications CRM uses this contextual action feature, and it's used throughout the applications suite too. There are contextual actions dialog boxes, like the one I've shown for Person, for 10 other business objects in Fusion Apps, including Organization, Customer Account, Item, Project, and so on.
My son, Fionn, advertising the event in the Science Gallery
A great fun and free platform for ideation, innovation, inspiration, and learning for creatives, hackers, hobbyists, innovators, techies, thinkers, and generally makers of all ages and types.
I was blown away by the energy of the participants and volunteers, reminding me of the mega Maker Faire in San Mateo earlier this year. I guess five thousand plus (but don't take my word for "Garda estimate") eager kids and adults turned up at stands and sessions on the TCD Physics Lawn and in the Science Gallery. Kudos to the Dublin Mini Maker folks and the Science Gallery magic makers. All the more astounding as three weeks ago I didn't even know about the event, they managed to make the sun come out too!
After a bit of pre-event online video content curation, on the day I had one of the volunteer assignments of helping signage the event around the college and channelling folks to the right end of the campus, reminding me of working in TCD ENTS crews at the Trinity Ball years ago. A lot of fun, when done with volunteering I went to fetch my young son and show him around what all the makers were up to.
Oracle didn't have an official presence at the Dublin event this time, but I would love to get something going there if (if? when) it happens again, something interactive, and for kids, for sure.
From a learning perspective, I was there not only a maker wanting to help out but to observe and learn more about how we might organize smaller, more nimble innovation and dev jam events aimed at makers of apps of all sorts on all devices, how such communities work, what motivates attendees, and to build some new local relationships local for future events. Definitely worthwhile!
Stay tuned. Many thanks to the Dublin Mini Maker and Science Gallery peeps for bringing this one to life for so many people.