Sunday Jul 28, 2013

Keep Taking the Tablets. Early Adopter UX Developer Type Wanted

Here's a free "how to" guide from Oracle Applications User Experience published on OTN that will excite designers, developers, and project managers and get them productively building great tablet solutions with enterprise-level methodologies (are you listening ADF EMG [Application Development Framework Enterprise Methodology Group]?).

If you're embarking on a tablet application design project, then start out with our interactive Oracle Applications User Experience Tablet Guide iBook (yes, you need an iPad).


Develop cool optimized tablet solutions to leverage your cloud applications data with Applications UX's resources.

There's a great conversation on the ADF EMG group about this new resource. And we have a request of our ADF development community: If you're a mobile developer on a tablet project, developing for a native O/S or (preferably, natch) with Oracle ADF Mobile or ADF Faces, who wants to evaluate the guide and provide feedback and examples of how you've used it to build solutions, then let us know using the comments. We can feature your work and findings, if you wish.


Oracle Applications User Experience Tablet Guide

Oracle Applications User Experience Tablet Guide: Early adopter developer wanted.

If you must, well there's a PDF version too.

The outreach continues! Watch out for more announcements of events and happenings to enable developers and other stakeholders in the applications development world to build great looking usable apps on mobile and other devices by checking in regularly on the Voice of User Experience (VoX) blog and following along on Twitter at @usableapps.

Monday Jul 22, 2013

Researching UX in Favorite Places: Consumer Tech's in Business

I’ve been out and about doing usability research in the wild (or ethnography, to give it the posh UX name) in some favorite places: in coffee shops and on fishing boats. Both are places of work on the go or remote working (there are some very successful strategies out there to get the best out of these types of workers too, as Apple's example shows). I wanted to discover more about the applications side, what devices were used, what other tools were used, what tasks are being done, and how what was going on around all the users affected things. In other words, I was exploring the context of use side of user requirements gathering.


Half Moon Bay, California: Fishing Boat captain using Square on iPhone for mobile payments

I’ve written about the concept of the "coffice" elsewhere, but it's worth bearing in mind, as pointed out by Lucy Kellaway in the Financial Times out that this "trend" of working from coffee shops (or houses) is 350 years old, originating (probably) in London in the 1650’s when coffee shops became places of trade for ship insurance, sugar, human hair even, and so on. The energy has changed now with today's patrons staring silently into laptop and tablet devices, where previously there was much human conservation. That is not to say that collaboration and exchange between users doesn’t exist though. It clearly does, but technology has changed its nature, as text and tech replaces talk, though there is some evidence that a certain level of background ambient noise does enable productivity! The data exchanged and tasks in evidence or course, pivot through the cloud, and happen across other devices and locations too. So, "work" can happen as and when needed.

As for fishing boats, well come early morning you can now see mobile payment solutions such as Square in action with captains taking payments on the spot with their iPhones, checking the latest Yelp check-ins about their vessel, and sending Instagrammed pictures of catches to their customers using their smart phones from the deck. Again, CRM in action, notably with a reliance on wireless data exchange that didn’t always work ,with lost connections from deep within vessel hulls and when out at sea. Offline versions anyone? And I wonder if they should invest in waterproof phones too!

My kind of research! Watch this space for more places and events. The consumerization of information technology influences our working lives all the time, and UX needs to research user requirements and design accordingly. We're all UX designers now...

This is what I love so much about being a UX pro. You can see it in action all around you, and have fun observing and thinking about how new solutions to problems might be. Besides, I could never let a creative challenge from Misha Vaughan to use my other passions as part of the UX story go by!

Tuesday Apr 02, 2013

UX Design Pattern Spotting with Fusion Mobile Expenses

One of the great things about demoing cool stuff for Oracle Applications User Experience is that you're entering a world of discovery of guess what? Even more cool stuff! I was showing off the Fusion Mobile Expenses app live recently and explaining how our UX Design Patterns make for developer productivity and satisfied users. A developer hand shot up in the audience and asked me to point out which patterns were being invoked as I stepped though the mobile tasks. What a super question and a great demo value-add to include in future!




Fusion Mobile Expenses video on the Usable Apps YouTube channel

You can see the patterns at work easily. Look at the rockin' Fusion Mobile Expenses video, for example, and within one minute you can see a bunch of the publicly available Mobile UX Design Patterns in action. There you have the Springboard Navigation pattern (that screen at about 19 seconds in), the Page Header and the Input Form patterns (at about 40 seconds), and so on.

Shown live, the Fusion Expenses mobile app reveals even more patterns, such as the List pattern, my favorite the Actions pattern, and others.


List and Actions Pattern


List and Actions patterns in use together in Fusion Mobile Expenses.


So, come along to my next UX outing on building great mobile apps with Oracle Applications User Experience reusable design solutions and see the patterns used and explained in context. Don't miss this opportunity by staying tuned to the events and outreach page on the Usable Apps website. I might even start giving out prizes to the audience if you can name the patterns when they come to life in the apps shown!

If you want to read more about using design patterns for mobile apps in business, then head on over to the Vennster blog.

Altogether now: "Taxi! 25 Dollars!

Thursday Mar 28, 2013

Showtime! FUSE and Friends at OBUG Connect 2013

Just back from Oracle Benelux User Group's (OBUG) Connect 2013 where, together with Jeffrey Pease, Oracle Applications Labs VP, we demoed “FUSE”. FUSE is an internal name really, one that got away and has stuck; but make no mistake, it was Oracle Fusion Applications that we showed!

FUSE is a browser-based, cross-device, simplified and lightweight UX for self-service, casual and frequently performed tasks. Built using Oracle ADF, rendered in HTML5 with CSS3, and leveraging cloud infrastructure, this UI is optimized for navigation and action, action, action.

Jeffrey with the new face of Oracle Fusion Applications (HCM) on iPad

Jeffrey with the new face of Oracle Fusion Applications on iPad, projected live onto the big screen.
Ultan at the controls. (photo: Ultan O'Broin)

Intuitive, intelligent, and integrated with other Fusion UI optimizations, what the audience saw was a UX informed by COIT and BYOD trends, and designed to meet the high expectations about modern apps that our users communicate to us. It was awe-inspiring to see the sleek UX put through its paces on an iPad and projected onto the huge movie screen at Connect 2013’s Kinepolis cinema center location.

So, watch out for news of this new face of Fusion Applications coming to events and browsers near you.

iPads and Apps in Your Hands

Jeffrey also demoed the fantastic mobile analytic apps for sales leaders called Mobilytics, live in the session too. So, in about 45 mins, we showed off four demos on iPad, MacBook Air, and Chromebook, did some Q & A, and let the audience come up and play with apps on the tablet. A very lively and interactive session. No PowerPoint karaoke there!

Jeffrey wows with mobile sales cloud analytics

Jeffrey wows with Mobilytics, live from his iPad. (photo: Ultan O'Broin)

Mobile UX Design Patterns are in Business

Later in the day, along with Fusion User Experience Advocate (FXA) Lonneke Dikmans (@lonnekedikmans) of Vennster, we presented on Mobile UX Design Patterns. We called out how these design patterns enabled productive building of apps by customers and partners which combined with the security and code-once model of Mobile ADF make this the perfect solution for enterprise apps deployment. You can read more about our presentation on the Vennster blog.

The OBUG Connect conference in 2013 was a great event. Don’t miss it next year and watch out for more events from OBUG (@OBUG_ORG) too, an organization that continues to go from strength to strength. Bring your popcorn.

Shout-outs for Oracle UX Design Patterns

Here come some Oracle partner blogs about publicly-available Oracle UX design patterns. Each explains why and how customers and partners are taking to Oracle's free usability resources to help build modern enterprise apps' UIs, just like Oracle does. So, if you need advocacy for UX design patterns in your development team, well, these blogs are a great start.

Application developers can be more productive by using these reusable common solutions to usability head scratchers with their Oracle toolkit (Oracle ADF, MDS, SOA, and so on), that same toolkit enables smart architectural decisions and business decisions to be made about data assets too. There is continued ROI for your Oracle apps investment as you develop and customize solutions and as users demand more, and different, ways of working. You can improve existing apps usability, extend new Fusion implementations UX, and develop stunning mobile UIs, as UX securely pivots through the cloud using services and APIs, with optimized UIs reflects the context of different users' roles, tasks, and how they work.

The first blog (actually in two parts) is via ORCLVille from Fusion User Experience Advocate (FXA) Floyd Teter (@fteter) of EiS Technologies. Featuring Oracle ADF Essentials, ADF functional patterns and Oracle Applications UX Direct, Floyd starts with a taster of how these resources can bring a great UI to life.


UI designed with ADF Essentials and functional patterns

UI designed with ADF Essentials, ADF functional patterns, and UX Direct guidance

Floyd then reveals some more to whet our appetite for what he will fully reveal at Collaborate 13.

The second is a more technical one from myself on the Usable Apps blog about partner Innowave Technology's approach of using UI abstraction, services, and Fusion desktop UX design patterns to cut time and cost for an EBS solution while delivering a compelling UX that can be easily extended in future. Some great quotes from FXA Basheer Khan, CEO, there if any C-level execs need convincing about the UX design pattern proposition!

The third is from Vennster managing partner, Lonneke Dikmans (@lonnekedikmans), also an FXA and co-author of a great book on making SOA simple too. Lonneke writes about going mobile in business, using UX design patterns, the role of services, and the underlying design need of understanding the nature of how mobile users work with apps. I presented with Lonneke at OBUG Connect 2013 on the subject where she also demoed the mobile design patterns themselves.

Update (May 2013)
And the story continues, with those ever-design conscious Danes adding to the advocacy! Here's another FXA, Sten Vesterli @stenvesterli of Scott/Tiger A/S on how to be productive when designing apps, by way of a nice anecdote from home: Smart People Use UX Design Patterns. From the same country I heard a great report about how one ADF development partner had used our UX design patterns in a response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) to win a deal by emphasizing how consistency and best practices implemented in a design ensured great usability and rapid onboarding of users across the organization. Bear that in mind the next time you're out to win business!

And Floyd Teter has just attended a great hands-on ADF and UX workshop in Oracle HQ and has an awesome post called UX ADF Design Patterns - Connect The Dots that says it all about developer productivity (see that 75% figure!).

So, check out these great endorsements for the Oracle UX resources and insights shared with partners, customers and development community. If you have your own story, then send it to me using the comments. And, watch out for more design pattern and usability best practice outreach to the development community too!

Tuesday Oct 30, 2012

Oracle Launches Mobile Applications User Experience Design Patterns

OK, you heard Joe Huang (@JoeHuang_Oracle) Product Manager for Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF) Mobile. If you're an ADF developer, or a Java (yeah, Java in iOS!) developer, well now you're a mobile developer as well. And, using the newly launched Applications User Experience (UX) team's Mobile UX Design Patterns, you're a UX developer rockstar too, offering users so much more than just cool functionality.


Mobile Design Pattern for Inline Actions

Mobile design requires a different way of thinking. Use Oracle’s mobile design patterns to design iPhone, Android, or browser-based smartphone apps. Oracle's sharing these cutting edge mobile design patterns and their baked-in, scientifically proven usability to enable Oracle customers and partners to build mobile apps quickly.

The design patterns are common solutions that developers can easily apply across all application suites. Crafted by the UX team's insight into Oracle Fusion Middleware, the patterns are designed to work with the mobile technology provided by the Oracle Application Development Framework.

Other great UX-related information on using ADF Mobile to design task flows and the development experience on offer are on the ADF EMG podcast series. Check out FXAer Brian 'Bex' Huff (@bex of Bezzotech talking about ADF Mobile in podcast number 6 and also number 8 which has great tips about getting going with Android and iOS mobile app development from Stephen Johnson (@sjintegretas).

Sunday Jul 29, 2012

BYOD: Ultimate Work Device Personalization. What Does It Mean for Oracle Apps?

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.

  • Turning to the Oracle Fusion Middleware toolkit to integrate open source GPS tracking devices with Oracle Fusion Supply Chain Management to manage deliveries in real time.

  • Or, how about using a Nintendo DS to approve your team’s expense or vacation notifications with some sly working during a family holiday?

Phew!

So, watch out for more BYOD research from me in the coming months, and if you’re a partner or customer, stay tuned to the Oracle Usability Advisory Board events.

Comments welcome!

About

Oracle applications user experience (UX) assistance. UX and development outreach of all sorts to the apps community, helping to design and deliver usable apps.

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

See my other Oracle blog about product globalization too: Not Lost in Translation

Interests: User experience (UX), user centered design, design patterns, tailoring, BYOD, dev relations, language quality, mobile apps, Oracle FMW and ADF, and a lot more.

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