Sunday Jul 03, 2011

The Importance of Context in Mobile App Design

Great presentation by Josh Holmes (@joshholmes) of Microsoft Ireland (I am a former employee) called "Is that a Rich Web in Your Pocket?" delivered at the Google Technology User Group meet in Dublin last week (28-Jun-2011). Central to the notion of great mobile design is understanding the user experience, or context, if you like. Mobile users use their devices to perform discrete tasks, quickly, want a minimum of information to enter manually, and are subject to disruption in their tasks. Designers need to take into account what's going on around users too.

You can read more about these considerations on the Oracle Applications-UX usableapps website too. See Lynn Rampoldi-Hnilo's Going Native: Ethnographic Research to Understand Mobile Workers and Lynn and Brent White's Design for the Mobile Enterprise articles.

Take a look at Josh's presentation and contrast how the mobile user experience contrasts with the desktop (or webtop) experience. Great to see a Microsoft Architect Evangelist speaking at a Google event too! Got me thinking about what I can contribute to this great community resource too.

If you don't know about the Google Technology User Group in Dublin, then check out the GTUG Google Group.

Tuesday Jun 21, 2011

Apple Gets the Message About Centralized Notifications on Mobile

Yep, looks like iOS5 introduces a centralized messaging system: the Notification Center.

Image of notification center referenced from Copyright acknowledged.

Wonder where they got that idea from?

Seriously, way to go though; this matches and probably betters what I really like about Android’s notifications system. I’ll have to check it out myself, though.

Application UX's own research last year confirmed that the centralized approach really is something that enterprise users in the US and in the UK wanted. The iOS5 feature will really help Apple in the enterprise user market too. Up to now, iOS has been dismal in the notifications space anyway, IMO, and pretty useless for users on the go using different apps and communications methods (business and personal - the line has become so blurred now) together and who need to manage all those their notifications efficiently, reflective of how they work.

I'll be also watching out for what personalization features are offered around the notification center, and what level of control users have over when, where, and how they get those notifications.

Good job, Apple.

Wednesday Feb 09, 2011

User Experience Guidance for Developers: Anti-Patterns

Picked this up from a recent Dublin Google Technology User Group meeting: Android App Mistakes: Avoiding the Anti-Patterns by Mark Murphy of CommonsWare. Interesting approach of "anti-patterns" aimed at mobile developers (in this case Android), looking at the best way to use code and what's in the SDK while combining it with UX guidance (the premise being the developer does the lot).

anti-patterns message about forcing wrong UI

Interestingly, the idea came through that developers need to stop trying to make one O/S behave like another--on UX grounds. Also, pretty clear that a web-based paradigm is being promoting for Android (translators tell me that translating an Android app reminded them of translating web pages, too). Haven't see the "anti"-approach before, developer cookbooks, and design patterns, sure. Check out the slideshare presentation.

Sunday Sep 19, 2010

Oracle Apps-UX at UA Europe 2010

The Applications User Experience User Assistance team (well, myself, Laurie Pattison, and Erika Webb anyway!) attended the "UA Europe 2010": conference in Stockholm.

In addition to sessions on DITA-based writing patterns  and enterprise mobile apps UA research and design, we held a lunchtime discussion on the iPad and user assistance, and took time to talk at length with author Anne Gentle and exchange views with other lots of other UA and information strategy professionals.

I am really happy with the thought leadership that Apps-UX displayed in the UA space. It's such a great group to work in! Watch out for a forthcoming interview with Anne Gentle on the usableapps website. Here's to the next conference!

Wednesday Jul 07, 2010

The User Assistance Conversation

Been reading Anne Gentle's book Conversation and the Community and picking up some great ideas about the shift from the traditional print paradigm user documentation towards user-generated content, collaborative communication, and the power of communities.

I'm also really looking forward to hearing Anne speak at the UA Europe 2010 conference, being held in Sweden this September. I will be speaking there, too, about "DITA and Writing Patterns for User Assistance". I will be joined by other Oracle colleagues, so I will not be alone. Watch out for Erika's Webb's session on "The Design of User Assistance on Mobile Enterprise Applications" too, for a start!

Reading Anne's book, the following jumped out at me:

"...even if your documentation can't 'talk back' to your users, it can help users talk to each other and make connections that help them do their jobs well, play with technology at home, or learn something new in a classroom setting.... think about documentation and user assistance as a multiple-channel communication device, perhaps with the help of some social technology applications."

Of course, whatever you might read in Globish, bear in mind this conversation is not all in English, regardless of the subject matter! By the way, you can read my own review of Globish in a forthcoming issue of Multilingual magazine (shameless plug, as I don't see any conflict of interest!). You see, I have an existence outside of Oracle too!

Monday Jul 05, 2010

African Localization and Mobile Opportunities

Another book I have just finished reading (disclosure: I am also a member of the Multilingual magazine editorial board and I was writing a review for that publication) African Languages in a Digital Age: Challenges and opportunities for indigenous language computing by Don Osborn, (HSRC Press). You can download a free copy from

One of the technological opportunities with very positive developmental (in the broadest sense ) potential is that offered by mobile phones and applications. Bear in mind the following quotes from Activtate 2010:

  • "70% of young Kenyans use social media, 80% have mobile phones - only 50% have an indoor toilet"
  • "Eric Schmidt (Google) - Internet more disruptive than electricity because it replaces economics of scarcity with economics of abundance."

When it comes to mobile, we should remember the importance of the African market, and its languages and cultures in our UX work.


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


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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