Tuesday Jun 12, 2012

Tweeting about Oracle Applications Usability: Points to Consider

Here are a few pointers to anyone interested in tweeting about Oracle Applications usability or user experience (UX). These are based on my own experiences and practice, and may not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle, of course (touché, see the footer).


  • If you are an Oracle employee and tweet about our offerings, then read up and follow the corporate social media policy. For the record, I tweet under the following account names: @ultan, @localization, @gamifyOracle, and @usableapps. The last two are supposedly Oracle subject-dedicated, but I do mix it up on occassion.

  • Complete the Twitter account profile, and add a profile picture too. Disclose your interest. Don’t leave either the profile or image blank if you want to be taken seriously (or followed by me).

  • Don’t tweet from a locked down ("protected") Twitter account, as your messages cannot be circulated to anyone who doesn't follow you. Open up the account to all if you really want to get that UX message out.

  • Stay on message. The usable apps website, Misha Vaughan's VoX blog, and the Oracle Applications blog are good sources of UX messages and information, but you can find many other product team, individual, and corporate-wide sources with a little bit of searching. Set up a Google Alert with likely keywords and obtain a daily digest of new information right in your inbox.

  • Add your own insight and wit to the message, were relevant. Just circulating and RTing stock headlines adds no value to your effort or to the reader, and is somewhat lazy, in my opinion. That said, don't steal other people's insight and links either. Attribute where appropriate.

  • Leave room for RTing of your tweet. So, don’t max out those 140 characters. Keep it under 130 if you want to be RTed without modification (or at all-I am not a fan of modifying tweets [MT], way too much effort for the medium). Use URL shorteners, remove articles and punctuation marks and use fragments, abbreviations, and so on at will to keep the tweet short enough, but leave keywords intact, as people search on those.

  • Follow any Fusion UX Advocates who are on Twitter too (you can search for these names), and not just Oracle employees. Don't just follow the people you like or think like you, or those who you think like you or are like-minded. Take a look at who is following or being followed by whom and er, follow up.

  • Create and socialize others to use an easily remembered or typed hashtag, or use what’s already popularized (for an event or conference, for example). We used #gamifyOracle for the Applications UX gamification design jam, and other popular applications UX ones are #fusionapps and #usableapps (or at least I’m trying to popularize it). But, before you start the messaging, if you want to keep a record of the hashtag traffic and analyze it, then set it up with an archiving service. Twitter’s own tweet lifespan is short.

  • Don't confuse hashtags (#) with Twitter handles (@) that have the same name. Sending a tweet to @gamifyOracle will just be seen by @gamifyOracle (me) and any followers we have in common. Sending it to #gamifyOracle is seen by anyone following or searching for that hashtag.

  • No dissing the competition. But there is no rule about not following them on Twitter to see the market reactions to Oracle announcements enabling you to tailor your own message accordingly.

  • Don’t be boring. Mix it up a bit. Every 10th or so tweet, divert into other areas of interest, personal ones, even. No constant “Thank you Joe Schmoe for giving me +K for this, that, and the other” or “I just ousted Mr X as Mayor of on foursquare" pouring into the Twitterstream, please. I just don’t care and will probably unfollow pretty quickly.

And now, your Twitter tips and experiences with this subject? Them go in the comments...

Monday Sep 19, 2011

Squirting is a Software Experience? Mind Your Language, Please

The language used in an application's user interface (UI) is a critical aspect of the user experience (UX), bit one often overlook. Des Traynor (@destraynor) brought this importance artfully to life at Refresh Dublin in his presentation on the Language of Interfaces. Well worth checking out, Des emphasized how language choice determines user action and engagement, with the simple choice of text for a button label or placeholder for status update making all the difference.

In Oracle Fusion Applications, for example, there's a big difference between the button labels Save, Submit, or Done, and the action that they imply to take on a page. Save implies an intermediate state during data object or process creation that the user will return to later before the task can be finalized. Submit is a final action, committing an object to the database or handing off a process, thus ending the task. Done is generally used to conclude the user review of a read-only page, closing it.

Save and Submit buttons together on a page


Google Wave's choice of Done however (as pointed out by Des) didn't help much with the puzzling concept of what anyone was expected to do with a wave to begin with. Language alone isn't going to save a rubbish UX.

Google Wave UI Done button


Des used some great examples from social media to as examples. Compare the language and action implied of the Facebook friend with the LinkedIn contact or the contact categorizations of Google+'s circles. Determining the action should shift from a third-person to first person paradigm led Facebook to change its status update text to What's on your mind? Twitter switched from What are you doing? to What's happening?

US English Twitter and Facebook status placeholder text

Not every natural language follows the English direction however. What's up with that? And, what about the challenges offered by crowdsourced language (as in the Dutch version of Twitter)? Facebook's community translation feature, as I pointed out before, is as much a user engagement strategy as a way of obtaining translated UIs (but not help) very quickly for the local market.

French and Dutch Twitter status placeholder text

French and German Facebook Status Placeholder Text

This choice of evolving or action-intended words can be a challenge for controlling the action globally. My old friend Frank Dietz in Multilingual magazine tells of the challenge of finding German translations for gaming concepts (buff, debuff, kiting, toon hop, and so on) for example, having to rely on transcreation, Denglisch, or the English term itself.


What the presentation didn't cover was how the language in the UI drives the creation of language around the intended action within the user community too. Unfriend, for example, appeared nowhere in the Facebook UI, but is a well-established word now. ReTweeting (or RTing) was a term and concept that came from the Twitter community, before it was codified. Personalization features that allow users to control the language or add their own are critical UX features too, particularly in the mobile space.

Apple iOS5 shortcut personalization feature

As for the choice of squirting to convey the sharing of music in Microsoft Zune (see Des's presentation), well, nobody over the age of five should be squirting anything at anybody, should they? What were they thinking? And yet,they're back with internet charms...


Find those comments...

Saturday Nov 20, 2010

Conversation with Chris Warticki about Communities

I chatted recently with Chris Warticki, Senior Principal Regional Customer Advocate from Oracle Software Support--he's our best-known "spokesmodel" for community support in Oracle.

Chris, being the guy in touch with customers all the time knows exactly what's going on in the community support space, and gets to hear it all from customers. He helped me navigate through the different Oracle support communities out there. And he told me succinctly what the essence of the community approach is. It's about connecting people to people, not people to a portal. Wow, what a great line (I'll use that elsewhere)!

We first looked at My Oracle Support communities. These are moderated by Oracle and are for supported, licensed customers (so if you're not one of those, there's no point in me providing a link). Some super communities there, and collaborative approaches such as forums and patch download ratings and reviews too. Next, we explored the hugely popular and massive Oracle Technology Network (OTN) forums. The OTN communities are self-moderating, for all products, with downloads of products, documentation and other materials available. You can check it out yourself--a very rich resource indeed!

cwarticki_otn.png

Oracle Technology Network

After that, we checked out the Oracle Wiki (I have signed up to be a writer). Again, essentially a self-regulating community with some ground rules, members can contribute and edit content. I was especially delighted to see non-English language content there too (see this Consortium for Service Innovation presentation if you think translation of community-provided or official support content can be ignored).

cwarticki_oraclewiki.png

Oracle Wiki

Continuing the theme of individual contributors I mentioned in a previous post about Oracle's rich community conversations, we stopped by Tom Kyte's Ask Tom site. I was amazed to see how questions asked years ago are still being updated!

cwarticki_asktom.png

Ask Tom

Then we went to Oracle Mix, a community where "blending" is the order of the day: members create blended groups of product, technology, industry, interests, you name it! I've created a few groups myself on Oracle Mix--for Arbortext, arcolinx IQ, and user assistance.

cwarticki_oraclemix.png

Oracle Mix

Finally, we had a great exchange about the role of Twitter. Oracle, too, cannot ignore the power of microblogging, with its huge uptake and real-time nature, and we have a strong presence on Twitter. Twitter clearly offers tremendous potential for support, but also customer relations generally. And of course, we didn't miss out the key role that our communities of user groups play too.

There is no greater change agent than the collective voice of our users, Chris tells me. I agree. In terms of community generally, we've moved past the notion that the official corporate web site and marketing efforts will completely form the reputation of Oracle. Loyalty and user experience generally is all about listening to the community conversation and responding to it the right way. Personally, I think we need to really look a lot more closely at what wikis, self-regulating communities, and microblogging offer in the user assistance and customer support space, as user-generated content explodes (70% of the digital universe, say IDC) and the age profile of customers changes. But, as for Facebook in that space? Forget it.

These are exciting times, and it's great to have people with initiative and vision, people like Chris, driving the model forward, and harnessing its power. I want to be part of that too!

Thanks Chris for talking the time to talk with me.

Sunday Nov 14, 2010

Oracle's Rich Community Conversations

Been doing a lot of research into the community help and support area lately. Of course, we should remember Oracle already has powerful community resources to hand, contributing a very rich and lively conversation with valuable how-to information and examples to try.

For example, there are the My Oracle Support Community and Oracle Technology Network (OTN) forums, the Sun communities,  official wiki, and internal and external blogs from employees like David Haimes, as well as enthusiastic non-employee gurus like Chet Justice (OracleNerd), and friends, Floyd Teter, Eddie Awad (check out Eddie's news aggregator for more names), and so on.

davidhaimes.png

David Haimes's Financials Blog

oraclenerd.png

OracleNerd Blog  

There are lots of other Oracle voices other there too: the user groups, Oracle Mix,and so on. The best place to get started, in my opinion, is the AppsLab. I usually track all this stuff through Twitter. I'll come up a list of the best tweeters soon!

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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