The Product Guy’s Weekend Reading (February 27, 2009)

Every week I read tens of thousands of blog posts. Here, for your weekend enjoyment, are some highlights from my recent reading, for you.

01_nda

On Starting Up…

http://www.markpeterdavis.com/getventure/2009/02/share-information-or-dont-bother-calling.html
On avoiding the novice’s mistakes of not sharing information and sending out NDA’s.

 
 

On Design & Product Experience…

http://darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/2009/02/tropicana-.html
The pitfalls and rapid response, due to real-time communities, of Tropicana’s re-design.

02_tropicana
03_fennec

On Modular Innovation…

http://lifehacker.com/5159079/firefox-mobile-aka-fennec-will-sync-tabs-with-firefox-on-your-desktop
Firefox’s efforts in moving Modular Innovation forward through Stateful Memorability.

 

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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World’s Best Programmer is…

anotherstar …to be announced at the end of this series.

unkown-personI am often asked what is it that I do that results in the programmers with whom I interact being so productive; what is it I do to get them motivated and to keep them motivated; and where can I find / who is the World’s Best Programmer.

My answer is many fold…

Create an environment that values empowerment, self-worth and meaning. These are the pillars on which motivation and self-satisfaction in the workplace rest. Through an understanding of these pillars, and how they relate to, in this instance, programmers, one can then foster the conditions necessary in this search, as well as instrumental in providing an environment where programmers / developers can thrive.

A good programmer, just like anyone else within your organization, seeks these things. The challenge for many a manager (especially for the technically challenged) is relating to the individuals that make up their team, and understanding the underlying motivational drivers, from the programmer’s perspective.

Motivation

The path to the motivated programmer, the happy programmer, is unique to each individual. There are, however, some general, instructional guides towards better understanding for all involved parties, and especially regarding those conditions that make for that highly motivated programmer…

From Clarity to Focus

Clarity. Providing clear project requirements and goals.
Organization. Balancing the art and science, of programming, through structure.
Focus. Removing distractions and hurdles.

From Communication to Inclusion

Communication. Promoting openness, free flow of ideas and information, and teamwork.
Inclusion. Empowering throughout all aspects, from idea origination to release and support, from business facing to backend, of the product processes.

From Challenge to Respect

Challenge. Fostering growth, new learning, and meaning.
Respect. Establishing and fostering mutual credibility and understanding.

And More…

These all present a sound foundation to build and reflect upon, in search for the World’s Best Programmer! But, before this individual, World’s Best Programmer, is announced, the characteristics…

Clarity, Organization & Focus
Communication & Inclusion
Challenge & Resphttp://tpgblog.com/2009/04/14/worlds-best-programmer-respect/ect

… will be further explored and discussed in the subsequent articles of this multi-part series.

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series highlighting many of the key driver’s of your team’s motivated programmers, nor the denouement of World’s Best Programmer, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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The Product Guy’s Weekend Reading (February 20, 2009)

Every week I read tens of thousands of blog posts. Here, for your weekend enjoyment, are some highlights from my recent reading, for you.

01_magnolia

On Starting Up…

http://www.centernetworks.com/magnolia-service-outage-discussion
Benefit (aka learn) from Ma.gnolia’s massive failure.

 
 

On Design & Product Experience…

http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/bringing-holistic
Designing the best web applications through holistic understanding.

02_holistic
03_omnipresent

On Modular Innovation…

http://www.darrenherman.com/2009/01/25/the-future-of-social-networks/
The omnipresence of the next generation user experience understood through Modular Innovation.

 

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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The State of Massachusetts SSAA Grouping

desirabilityQuick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Desirability, "Should I use it?" the sub-category of Layout is one of frequent discussion, especially in the latest wave of online products and how they handle content presentation and interaction.

The relationships between and among various page elements, how they play off of one another, constructively guiding a process, or organizationally segmenting a concept, can influence how accepted, by the user, the product is, and how Desirable, how much they (the users) will actually want to use it.

Today, we will look at an example of an Internet product with Poor Grouping, representing a Layout value of 0.

Example: Poor Grouping (value = +0)

Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators’ Association’s web product, primarily informational, is one that presents a Layout and Grouping of elements detrimental to the overall User Experience, and, in this case, its Desirability, earning it the distinction of being today’s excellent example of a web product with Poor Grouping.

00_mssaa_homepage

Many elements appear to be grouped, but with none, other than the java-based menu, actually presenting any logical grouping or separation of similar or dissimilar elements. At first glance, many parts appear to be grouped.

01_mssaa_groups

But, upon further inspection, the perceived groups are revealed to be a mish mash of apparently random elements.

02_mssaa_chaos

The content of this product is organized into columns. Within these columns some elements appear to form groups and sections. Upon further inspection, it is obvious that any perceived visual cues have occurred merely by chance, rather than through any human expression of intent to assist the user in isolating and identifying the content of interest.

03_mssaa_faux-groups

Beyond the product navigation and the general content, there is no organization. The content is scattered throughout the main body of the product, with no true associations or relevance between any group, column, or mini-group.

04_mssaa_stuff

The Layout and Grouping of Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators’ Association‘s web product provides a scattered, chaotic, random experience that does not contribute to the Desirability of the product — a great example of a product with Poor Grouping.

Over the next several weeks I will be providing real-world examples of Layout values…

Clear Visual Hierarchy (value +0.4)

Fair Visual Hierarchy (value +0.2)

Poor Visual Hierarchy (value +0)

 

Non-negative Visual Flow (value +0.3)

Negative Visual Flow (value +0)

Poor Sequential Flow (value -0.15)

 

Clean Grouping (value +0.3)

Inconsistent Grouping (value +0.15)

Poor Grouping (value +0)

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Desirability and Layout of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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The Product Guy’s Weekend Reading (February 13, 2009)

Every week I read tens of thousands of blog posts. Here, for your weekend enjoyment, are some highlights from my recent reading, for you.

01_vc-reality

On Starting Up…

http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/09/another-view-vc-investing-not-dead-just-different/
On more reasonable returns for venture capitalists.

 
 

On Design & Product Experience…

http://www.usabilitypost.com/2009/02/09/zoomable-user-interfaces/
Using zooming interfaces to be more productive and squeeze more into less.

02_zoom
03_unified-cloud

On Modular Innovation…

http://blog.programmableweb.com/2009/02/02/the-universal-cloud-interface-applying-the-semantic-web-to-cloud-interoperability/
The greater modularity and data portability inherent to Modular Innovation may come from the Unified Cloud Interface.

 

Have a great weekend!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Roll of the Dice.com

desirabilityQuick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Desirability, "Should I use it?" the sub-category of Layout is one of frequent discussion, especially in the latest wave of online products and how they handle content presentation and interaction.

The relationships between and among various page elements, how they play off of one another, constructively guiding a process, or organizationally segmenting a concept, can influence how accepted, by the user, the product is, and how Desirable, how much they (the users) will actually want to use it.

Today, we will look at an example of an Internet product with Inconsistent Grouping, representing a Layout value of +0.15.

Example: Inconsistent Grouping (value = +0.15)

00_dice_homepage

Dice.com is all about finding a job, all about searching for a job, thereby making search a core part of the Dice.com product offering and the focus of our attention in this article as we look at a good example of Inconsistent Grouping.

The search page has 3 primary groups…

Job Search

spanning the top of the page (below the page header / site navigation)

Refine Search

left column

Search Results

below the Job Search group and to the right of the Refine Search group

01_dice_groups

Redundancy & Interactivity

Among the first noticeable aspects of the groups within the user interface is the presence of redundant information and resultant actions. The user arriving at this product view will find a clear path to initiating the search within the prominently located Job Search group.

02_dice_search-group

However, after initiating a search the user is presented with the exact same information within two locations. The information that was typed into the search text field remains, but the user is also presented with the exact same information within the Refine Search group.

03_dice_refine-search

Note that most of the information that is displayed within the upper region of the Refine Search group, within the sub-group of Current Search, is exactly what the user typed within the Search Group. The additional information being displayed is set and changeable via the other sub-group of the Refine Search group, indicated by the heading Refine Results.

04_dice_refine-results

At this stage, the user is faced with unnecessarily redundant information and multiple paths by which to accomplish the same operations on that information. This results in unnecessary complexity and confusion. If the user wants to remove a keyword from the search, the user is faced with an artificial choice…

Remove the keyword from the textfiield, or

Click ‘Undo’ in the Refine Search group.

Further compounding the negative impact on the Desirability of the product are the inconsistent options presented within each group. The Job Search group allows for adding and removing keywords and controlling whether or not some or all keywords should match to be displayed within the Search Results group. The Refine Search group allows for ONLY the removing of keywords, as well as the adjusting of additional meta information that is presented within the Refine Results sub-group.

The Save sub-group within the Job Search group is not only misaligned with the priorities of the page (its placement makes it appear to be the primary activity and most important action of the page), but misleading in its result. On one hand, the Save sub-group appears to be contained within the Job Search group and, thereby, only saving the information contained within the Search Again sub-group. On the other hand, the Save sub-group’s alignment with respect to the other groups and the language used within the group to describe the interaction, imply the Save operation is applicable to the entire contents of the page, encompassing all of the search information provided by both the Job Search group and the Refine Search group. However, neither of the prior expectations are entirely true. The Save sub-group saves all of the information provided by the Search Again sub-group along with only some of the information contributed via the Refine Search group, continuing an inconsistent experience resulting from inter- and intra-group interactions, as well as their respective alignments.

05_dice_save-group

Cleaner

Most of the product’s page elements present a logic with respect to the grouping of options and information and some semblance of organization with respect to the alignment and approximate interaction between the groups’ various parts. The search view would greatly benefit from the…

Removal of all redundant information and actions, and

Consolidation and realignment of groups…

…such as …

Eliminating the Current Search sub-group — the user knows their search, they just typed it,

Relocating the Refine Search group as a sub-group of the Job Search group (or vice versa),

Adjusting the behavior and placement of the Save sub-group so as to better reflect its results, e.g. moving it to the Search Results group, of course with a minor adjustment in behavior.

And, until some of these (or similar) adjustments are made to improve the Grouping of interface elements within the Dice.com product, it will remain a prime example of a product with a Layout with Inconsistent Grouping.

Over the next several weeks I will be providing real-world examples of Layout values…

Clear Visual Hierarchy (value +0.4)

Fair Visual Hierarchy (value +0.2)

Poor Visual Hierarchy (value +0)

 

Non-negative Visual Flow (value +0.3)

Negative Visual Flow (value +0)

Poor Sequential Flow (value -0.15)

 

Clean Grouping (value +0.3)

Inconsistent Grouping (value +0.15)

Poor Grouping (value +0)

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Desirability and Layout of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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Digitaloop’s Clean Groups

desirabilityQuick-UX provides for the rapid, simple and quantifiable assessment of a product’s User Experience (UX). In answering the question of Desirability, "Should I use it?" the sub-category of Layout is one of frequent discussion, especially in the latest wave of online products and how they handle content presentation and interaction.

The relationships between and among various page elements, how they play off of one another, constructively guiding a process, or organizationally segmenting a concept, can influence how accepted, by the user, the product is, and how Desirable, how much they (the users) will actually want to use it.

Today, we will look at an example of an Internet product with Clean Grouping, representing a Layout value of +0.3.

Intro Grouping

Grouping by proximity, alignment, boxing, whitespace, or other visual methods is frequently done to convey similar (or dissimilar) concepts and/or functionality. The correct use of element Grouping and interaction between the various groups can enhance the understanding and pleasurable / Desirable effects of interface elements both near and far.

Grouping of Search

For example, picture your typical website search page. Perhaps there is a region, consisting of a Grouping of similar elements, that is used for filtering search results. This region will most likely be aligned so as to be visually related to the search results, that content upon which they will have direct influence. Yet another region may be established to save frequently performed searches. Depending on the type of web product, the importance of saving a search, and the sought after tone for the page, various Groupings and alignments between the region for saving and the region for initiating searches will exist. How the various elements relate to and interact with one another, and how they guide users’ behaviors around the page (and product) can quickly degenerate into a ‘painful’ experience, if not carefully considered. Depending on the target audience and the overall purpose for the web product, the various page element Groupings within the Layout may either constructively, or destructively, impact the overall Desirability of the web product.

Example: Clean Grouping (value = +0.3)

00_digitalloop_homepage

Digitaloop is a clear example of a web product with Clean Grouping.

07_digitalloop_groups-label

A visitor to Digitaloop is presented with strata of simply organized groups.

01_digitalloop_nick-lee

The first group, isolated by margins and a horizontal line, is the name of the individual that the product is about..

02_digitalloop_about

In closest proximity to the ‘Nick Lee’ group is the ‘About’ group, also segmented from the other content of the page by horizontal lines and spacing. Through proximity it is easy to extrapolate a strongly relevant relationship between the ‘Nick Lee’ and ‘About’ groups, with the ‘About’ group providing an overview of the ‘Nick Lee’ group.

Together, the ‘Nick Lee’ and ‘About’ groups can further be seen to be contained within a super-group (‘Intro Group’), representing the introduction to the content of the web product, the group bounded by the top of the view and the middle visually contrasting ‘Latest Project’ group.

The next stratum presents the next group. This group, the ‘Latest Project’ group, provides a window into project names, summaries, links, and screenshots.

03_digitalloop_latest-proje

The bounds of this group are established through the contrasting of this region (lightness of the ‘Latest Project’ group, verses the darkness of the groups above and below). The ‘Latest Project’ group provides the next level of detail to its neighboring ‘Intro Group,’ and is controlled by the user interface elements within ‘Previous Projects.’

04_digitalloop_previous-pro

The ‘Previous Projects’ contains an aggregation of all projects. When one group controls or impacts the behavior of another group, that level of interaction represents a strong inter-group relationship. The proximity, alignment, and content descriptors of the groups ‘Latest Project’ and ‘Previous Projects’ reinforce a strong inter-group relationship. The grouped projects of the ‘Previous Projects’ group serve as an interface control mechanism (changing the content of the ‘Latest Project’ group to be that of whichever project was clicked within the ‘Previous Projects’ group) for the ‘Latest Project’ group, its immediate neighbor.

The second to last stratum, the ‘Nick Likes’ group, clusters all of the likes and interests of Nick Lee, from websites to photography.

05_digitalloop_nick-likes

Finally, the ‘Footer’ group creates the boundary for the bottom of the interface, strongly separated from all other content of the page through the use of its white background and spacing.

06_digitalloop_footer

Grouping within this web product serves to convey relationships of one set of data (e.g. ‘Latest Project’) to another (e.g. ‘Previous Projects’), ensuring no unnecessary redundancy of information, keeping all similar information together, maintaining close proximity between groups that interact with one another, and thereby earning Digitaloop the recognition of being a very good, and easy to follow, example of Clean Grouping.

Over the next several weeks I will be providing real-world examples of Layout values…

Clear Visual Hierarchy (value +0.4)

Fair Visual Hierarchy (value +0.2)

Poor Visual Hierarchy (value +0)

 

Non-negative Visual Flow (value +0.3)

Negative Visual Flow (value +0)

Poor Sequential Flow (value -0.15)

 

Clean Grouping (value +0.3)

Inconsistent Grouping (value +0.15)

Poor Grouping (value +0)

Subscribe now (click here) to make sure you don’t miss any part of this series exploring the Desirability and Layout of Quick-UX, the quick and easy method of generating quantifiable and comparable metrics representing the understanding of the overall User Experience of a product, as well as other insightful posts from The Product Guy.

Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

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