Thursday, November 12, 2009

Time Machine Reloaded - November 5th

Hi everyone,

let's go back the usual 7 days to re-experience the OOoCon 2009!

November 5th

From our point-of-view, it was "the day" of the conference. It was packed with User Experience related topics (conference program, page 2). Here are some highlights...

Ma Li from the IBM Lotus Symphony gave some nice talks, especially since he had used very entertaining and sometimes funny slide designs. Here, I can can only provide a picture shown the "default" design.

Basically, everyone talked about the same - how to better suit the needs of our users. Okay, we've also been reminded to avoid the impersonal term "user", so please exchange it with some person unrelated to but related to you. Then you better get the idea of what we are talking about.

Of course, Andreas talked about it, too. In his workshop "The role and the methods of user experience in product design" he took a more general approach why some products are more successful than others. Or let's say, what are the ingredients to develop a product which has the potential to be really successful.

After Andreas finished his workshop, there were about 10 people who attended our workshop "User Experience Done "Live" Based on Expertise and Usage Data". As far as I know, the attendees were volunteers and employees of Sun Microsystems and IBM. Since the workshop did take place in one of the usual presentation rooms, the equipment was somehow optimized for presentations instead of workshops. So we had to rely on the funny ODF note pads we brought with us - and the PLIO people, who were so unbelievable kind to provide a second data projector in the last minute. Thanks a lot for that!!! Unfortunately, there was somebody missing ... Mr. Internet Connection left the room right before and so we had only very rarely access to the Internet and the web sites we wanted to work with. What a pity, especially since some time we kept trying to get it working. However...

First, we presented our backup topics to let the attendees chose what to work on. Backup topics? Yes, because although we did some requests on mailing lists and in blogs, we didn't get any worked out proposal. Maybe our ideas were so bad that - at the end - the people in the workshop presented their own ones. So we got three excellent ideas to work on (described here). Due to the Internet connection problems, the attendees chose to work on "How to improve the quality of search results on the extension website?". Funnily, this idea had been brought in by Frank Mau (Sun Microsystems) who is also responsible for the User Feedback Data tooling. This data could have been used for questions dealing with the core product

Frank explained the problem "offline" - if the user searches for extensions, the search results were sometimes sub-optimal which is related to the underlying search algorithm. Before starting to work on that topic, I gave a brief introduction of "user search strategies" and how this related to todays website features like: hierachical menus, tags and tag clouds, text search with synonyms. Concerning the search we worked out that a plain "text search" does not work well if a) there are far too many search results which might even be unrelated, and b) it doesn't work well if the user does not even know what term to search for (we tend to think technially, but most of our users are technically unbiased).

After some discussion it was raised that there were - literally - no resources to realize huge changes for the Extension Website. Keeping that in mind, we worked on some tiny but powerful proposals how to proceed (see here). If there would be a little bit more support, we also discussed how to re-arrange the elements on the website to provide access to the elements which were rather suited for the search (e.g. moving the tags a bit up). Finally, we had some intermediate result to further work on after the workshop.

Time was running - and still no internet connection - so we proposed to further inform about User Feedback Data and how to use it in the daily work. Agreement - and so Frank Loehmann gave a short presentation and I added a bit more "playing detective" with the source code browser OpenGrok to better understand the raw data. This could also be used for reference in the further analysis in the Project Renaissance.

Result: The workshop itself was quite interesting, especially for me :-) There has been positive feedback after the workshop, so most likely we will offer it again to further strenghten the cooperation in the community.

If you want to know more, here is the workshop wiki page, the videos / video streams and the presentation material.

And what is a day without a closing event? We enjoyed the party which has been organized by the NLC. Many thanks to the whole team!

That's it. You may now enjoy your very personal espresso - just go on. We'll see each other tomorrow!


PS: Not to forget the reminder for the planet users, who want to see this posting well formed.

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