November, 2006

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Design Charts


    Hey everyone! 

    While reading up on the writings of some of our local UXers, I stumbled upon this site.  Very cool - it's like the Top 40 Charts but for design!  An excellent resource for an aspiring UX Advisor... hmm...

    -Mark Z

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Licensing the 2007 Microsoft Office User Interface


    Yesterday we announced a program to licesne the Office User Interface design and while I might be able to capture most of the information.... I think Jensen express himself well on this and given his background provides some great insight... here's the link and a teaser on his conversation.

    Licensing the 2007 Microsoft Office User Interface

    For the last year or so, one of the questions I've been asked again and again has been: "Can I use the new Office user interface in my own product?"

    On one hand, it's an immensely satisfying question to hear, because it means that others in the industry believe in the value of what we've built and see how the sound UI research we've done can benefit their own products. Creating the new user interface has been our team's passion for the last three years, and we love sharing the fruits of this hard work........

    Check out the rest at: Licensing the 2007 Microsoft Office User Interface

    read about it on MSDN:

    Office UI License and FAQ

    Here is a downloadable copy of the UI License and Licensing Program FAQ.

    Office UI License and FAQ

    Watch it on:

    Office UI Video on Channel 9

    Watch this Channel 9 video where Jensen Harris, Group Program Manager for the Office User Experience team, Jeremy Mazner, Developer Evangelist, and Judy Jennison, Associate General Counsel for the Office business, discuss the licensing program.

    Office UI Video on Channel 9



  • Canadian UX Blog

    Beyond Menus and Toolbars in Office


    Beyond Menus and Toolbars in Microsoft Office by Jensen Harris.  I know from many of my conversations that you are eager to understand the new "Ribbon" user interface (UI).  So, I thought I'd share this presentation. Jensen Harris, the lead UI designer for the Office UI suite.  He gave this presentation to a community before the product was finished.  While I think it really a surprise that we were talking about at that time, I'm really jazzed that we did.  It is atypical of us to to discuss a product before launch. But as per the quote from the session", alongside the serious risk of completely redoing a core product, and giving all the design control to a team of user experience designers, we need to open the black box and explaining it to the community".

    Jensen's blog also details the design strategy so far at:

    Check out  the personation at:

    Would it be worthwhile to see if we can get some of the team up here to chat?



  • Canadian UX Blog

    Alex updates his video


    I've posted a video on YouTube and it can viewed at:


    Alex Levit

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Candidate - Qixing Zheng


    So, what do you think about Qixing? 

    Dear John,

    My name is Qixing Zheng.

    I am a recent Master's graduate (last Dec.) from the University of British Columbia. The following are the top reasons why I should be Microsoft's connection to the Canadian UX community, a.k.a. the Canadian User Experience Advisor.

    1. Master's degree in Computer Science, specializing in Human-Computer Interaction. My thesis is published in the proceeding of SIGCHI 2006. 
    2. Strong design (information, interaction, and visual) and usability evaluation background (3 years) as well as software development (5 years). I have received extensive formal training in all areas of user centered design. 
    3. Used all the MS Expression Beta products in my recent projects. As a user and designer, I would like to embrace this exciting new technology and share my stories to the design community. 
    4. A clear sense of good user experience and a passion to achieve it. I would like to introduce MS Expression as the product that gives designers a simple, consistent, pleasing, and reliable experience. Moreover, I am confident I can demonstrate how these new tools provide a fresher user experience than existing tools. 
    5. My academic background allows me to not only connect to the design community in industry but also the academic research community. I can see the Expression Tools being a great asset to them in quickly building interactive research prototypes and testing innovative design ideas locally or remotely.

    I created a personal website after seeing the job post to show my qualifications and passion. Personal Website:

    You can read more about my passion for user experience, my resume, portfolio, the UX blogs I love to read, and much more on the site. I hope I will have the opportunity to meet you in person.

    Yours truly,

    Qixing Zheng

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Candidate:Mike Lane


    Mike show's us why... he's the one!

    Hi John,

    The following are links to my self promotional video and some of my graphic work that I've posted on DeviantArt. I'm eager to post a few blogs of my own on the CANUX site. Also seeing as how my work at DeviantArt is mainly graphic work, I'll put together some website interfaces and post them up.

    Submitted for your approval, I look forward to meeting you as well.


    Mike L.


    Graphic Works:

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Interviewing has started


    Ok..... I know that I've been quiet on the blog for the last little while and need to turn my attention in sharing more information as we get into the meat of the search.   I've started interviewing candidates and need your help.  I really want to hear what you think... yes it matters.  So to make this process easier as narrow down the field I'm going to re-post information on the round two candidates.  I hope that this will help you focus and provide great feedback. 

    Please keep up the comments, emails and phone calls coming.  I am really jazzed about all the input I've been getting and the passion I've seen from the UX community.

    Thanks again,


  • Canadian UX Blog

    Expression Event at MSN Studios


    Hey guys, guest blogger Mark Z here.  Wanted to post a review here written by Jason Yong, of an event he organized at the MSN Offices downtown Toronto to show people some of the Expression products that are being released pretty soon:

    Hello All!



    My name is Jason Yong and I'm the coop intern in the DPE Marketing Team. For those of you who have been following the recent designer audience initiatives from the Microsoft Canada perspective, one of the main things currently underway in this area is the driving of early adoption and exposure to the Microsoft Expression ( line of products for the graphic, interactive, and web designer.


    One particular event that occurred on Friday Oct 27, 2006 was targeted at designers from a variety of firms in the industry. Hosted by our one and only developer tools Product Manager Jeff Zado, with Audience Manager Daniel Shapiro, the Microsoft Expression Designer Presentation was held at the MSN Office in Toronto from 11:30 am to 4:00 pm.



    Event Coverage


    After a sumptuous lunch and informal gathering Jeff kicked off the presentation with a round-table discussion. With a brief introduction given by each attendee consisting of role, current tools used at his/her firm, and experience in the design field, Jeff focused on identifying key design challenges and issues unique to each individual in the audience. Among the issues raised during the discussion were challenges regarding a lack of an existing platform for rich web application development, standards compliance and accessibility issues, and more specific concerns with managing SharePoint Services 3.0 with the MS Expression products.


    Following the detailed round-table discussion and noting the most prominent challenges shared by most of audience, I gave presentation overview of the Microsoft Expression Products. I talked about some of the key features, benefits, and team collaboration features of the Expression product suite. I also addressed the target consumer and goal of each product to help define and differentiate the Expression products from the existing tools out there including Adobe Suite and Macromedia Studio. The WPF support within the .NET 3.0 Framework was briefly covered to establish that a common platform for design and development team collaboration can be realized.


    My overview was followed by two consecutive demos of Expression Graphic Designer and Expression Interactive Designer. Mark Zielinski demonstrated some of the cool features of each product and how some of the designs could be accomplished within minutes from start to finish whereas using competing products would require more extensive knowledge and experience to handle adequately. Mark also mentioned the new XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language) support from WPF and how it offers a common representation for all UI elements within the Windows development platform. A certain emphasis on the ability to create fully-featured web and Windows applications was also used when discussing the development for different form factor devices within Expression Interactive Designer.


    I concluded the demonstrations with a demo on Expression Web Designer. I demonstrated some of the key features of Web Designer including full support for standards and accessibility compliance, CSS (cascading stylesheets), support for ASP.NET 2.0 and the lightweight development server (similar to IIS), and some useful reporting tools within the design environment. Following the demos were some questions from the audience in addition to oral and written (survey) feedback. Some good responses to audience questions and concerns were provided by Daniel who helped in the understanding of the Expression product direction.


    One of the interesting things to note was that some of the challenges addressed during the demos and presentation weren’t originally brought up as major concerns in the audience but ultimately these issues received some consideration from the audience in hindsight (standards compliance). Some things that the audience found impressive included the ease at which designs could be realized within Graphic Designer (particularly for the novice), support for XAML, and some features such as the Web Designer’s Development Server and real-time reporting tools for compliance. However, most of the acclaim was given to Expression Interactive Designer which showcased the most appealing features and support for creating both web and windows platform applications.




    Concluding Remarks


    Thanks goes out to Jeff, Daniel, and Mark Z. for helping to make this event happen! Again, as the first event of its kind, it was a successful and great opportunity to reach out to the regulars in the industry and I look forward doing this again to both internal and external audiences. I look forward to seeing you out there!



    Jason Yong

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Candidate: Alex Levit


    Alex, just sent me an email and applied to the position.  check out his portfolio and tell me what you think?

    My name is Alex Levit, and I'm a graduating Graphic Design student from Seneca College.
    Majid Mirza has referred me to your blog, and I have been following it closely for a couple of weeks now.
    I've compiled my online portfolio, and it can be viewed at
    I live, breath, and eat design. Please consider my candidacy for the Canadian User Experience position.
    Alex Levit
    Graphic Designer

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Canididate:Barbara Geng



    I just recieved Barbara's application and wanted to share it with you... have a look, check out her video and comments below!

    Online Portfolio:


    When I saw the job posting of the User Experience Advisor on the career center website at the University of Toronto, I was so excited about this position. That is just what I am looking for and planning to do in the future. As a new graduate from the Communication Culture and Information Technology program (CCIT) at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, I have the latest design technologies and communication knowledge to equip me to make a significant contribution to the user experience design at Microsoft.

    I learned user-centered design in many of the CCIT courses, such as Design Thinking, and Design and Implementation of Multi-Media Documents. In these courses, I explored IBM?s principles of user-centered design and Jesse James Garrett?s diagram of the elements of user experience. Design is a communication process. Users should always be the most important element in the design process. However, professional designers should also learn how to develop the potential of user experience. The twenty-first century is a century of imagination. Information technology drives innovation of design.

    A successful

    User Experience Advisor is a collaborator between the designers and the users, an experimenter of the information technology, and a director of design innovation.

    I believe I am qualified for this position. I would appreciate an interview to discuss my qualifications with you at your convenient time.


    Barbara Geng

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Vista - It's Official.....It's Time.


    Firstly I have to start our by saying I'm sorry that I haven't been posting much lately as I've been in Redmond.  But I had to share my experience with you. 

    Today we announced Release to Manufacturing of Windows Vista.  Yeah it is really cool and a significant milestone for us and our partners, and one that I'm very excited about.  But, I found it was more about people.

    I knew when I woke up this morning that this was the day.  For the past week it has been raining and there has been flood warnings, the sky was always dark and it was really cold for Redmond.  Not today!  When I woke up the sun was shining and it was unbelievably warm out.  When I got to the campus I noticed a real difference and a new level of energy.  Unlike yesterday it was a quiet and no one dared venture outside.  Today was different, as there were people everywhere and at lunch the fields were filled with people playing laughing and having a good time.  I've talked to so many people today and there is a really feeling of optimism and excitement on campus about Microsoft.  It definitely is a new day and I was so happy to be in Redmond when it happened.

    I've got my DVD and tomorrow night... it's a bottle of wine or two with a few of my friends on the windows team to hear and share all their stories!!!

    take care,


    WindowsVista4Boxes (2).jpg

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Candidate:Nathan Robertson


    Got a great email this morning from a new candidate!   Nathan decided to join the party and make his mark right away.... Check it out and tell me what you think!


    Hi John,

    My name is Nathan Robertson and I am applying for the UX Advisor role at Microsoft. Whenever analyzing user experience it is important to not only ask how the user behaves, but also why. While studying Product Design & Strategic Creativity at the Ontario College of Art & Design, there is one thing that is clear at every step of the design process, you can not change human behaviour, but you can control it through design.

    By understanding human behaviour, you can analyze a situation not only from the aspect of the individual user, but also as a human being. This is the process of strategic creativity. I have been trained in wide range of design methodologies that include interaction design, human factors & user-centered, and product design; as well as emerging fields like strategic branding, biomimicry, flow experience.

    To measure the potential of the Microsoft Expressions suite, the user experience advisor needs to understand how and why the technology is causing the user to behave in that way -- in order to create meaningful experiences when the user is engaged with it.

    To find out more about the emerging field of strategic creativity, please follow the link for a short presentation.

    Attached is my resume, and follow here to my video presentation:

    I look forward to meeting you in the future,

    Nathan Robertson

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Paul shows his Passion!


    Taking my comments to heart Peter sent me this note just a little while ago.

    Check it out and tell me what you think!


    Dear Members of the Design Community,

    I have been talking to, and gathering thoughts from a variety of designers and members of the community in regards to what exactly they need, what they want, and what frustrates them. One of the best quotes I received was from Peter Laird at Critical Mass.

    “What frustrates me as a designer is when people who aren't designers try and tell you what to design…”

    I think as designers we can all relate to Peter’s statement in one way or another. This is a perfect example of a frustration that might exist between designers and other team members.

    I am an applicant for the User Experience Advisor role with Microsoft. I feel gathering feelings and needs such as Peter’s is exactly what the role is about. When people ask me about the position, I tell them I would be like a sponge planted in the community. I would be absorbing information, needs, thoughts, and feelings from everywhere and anywhere. I would be absorbing every drop of water possible!

    I know I have the communication and networking skills to successfully achieve the “sponge” effect. I am an extremely fast learner of anything and everything. I have been there done and that. I know what its like to build a design from the ground up, and see it morph from a paper prototype to a finish product. I can present your ideas, your concepts, and your feelings clearly and effectively. I can translate your needs into formal requirements! LOL!

    My knowledge regarding the integration of design, interaction, and usability was founded under the guidance of Ilona Posner. . She was one of my professors in University. She is a usability consultant who has worked with everyone from Yahoo to Apple. She is actually presenting an event in Toronto on November 14, 2006 for World Usability Day. Check out for more details. The event is FREE!!!!! She instilled in me the notion and mindset that in order to create an effective design, you must know your users! Without your users you have nothing!

    As members of the design community you are the users. I want to know who you are. I am a fast learner, a great talker, and I get the job done. I have the openness to connect with people. I can network and bring together people to produce effective and successful results. I want to make your lives easier by knowing you and your needs. In a nutshell, designers are the ones who allow us to spend more time with our families, who make us laugh, who make us smile, and who simply make our lives easier. I want to help do the same for the designers themselves.

    Everything about this position is me! My desire to learn, need to improve, and my want to help others is what will allow me to help you. My work can be viewed at I want to help the community, bring it together and unify it. I look forward to your comments and welcome your suggestions.

    With Thanks,

    Paul Wellman

    PS: Contact me for more information regarding the Toronto Event for World Usability Day.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Show us your User Experience and Design Passion


    I really needed the input from Audrey to give me some ideas on how to look through the numerous resumes and identify who has that passion and can be successful in this role.  We are taking a big bet hiring someone right out of school and the lack of experience will be overcome by their desire to learn and openness to connect with others.  It's a very well paying job and I  know the rewards of the role are many, yet.... only the right person with the fire in their belly for design, passion for UX and the ability to reach out to others will be successful.  

    The comment " as far as I can tell, none of the candidates have demonstrated any knowledge of user experience or the needs of the user experience community" really struck home with me

    As a result we need to see your passion.  Any and all applicants please take some time and capture you thoughts, comments, feelings, learning's and anything else that highlights what you want to show.  

    Post it as a comment, create a work to express yourself, send it directly to me (I will post it to the blog) do what you think you need to do to communicate your passion.

    Reach out to the community and understand their challenges, talk to people and learn. 

    Thanks again to everyone who is applied and provided feedback,


  • Canadian UX Blog

    Abdual shows his passion for the UX


    I go this sent to me last night as he had some challenges posting it.

    Have a read,


    Hi Audrey,

    You are right! From what you have seen I would have had the same reaction. That is exactly why I really like the open approach Microsoft Canada is following to select the suitable candidate. In fact, it is a key ingredient for times as complex as we live in and such openness can lead to outweigh the power of the few.
    It is a journey as rightly stated here, a journey I am willing to make.
    With the mind of a beginner and the heart of a humanist... I have and actively continue to assimilate the essentials that help me understand the whole mindedness needed to begin such an undertaking as the role of the UX Advisor requires. But, it is what I think is required! and to some extent believe... an intuition...  I do admit that at this very moment I am not clear what the role truly requires. I am finding it hard to make out the whole picture and UX advisor's role in it as demonstrated in the first effort.
    Yet this blog and feedback of members like you will truly help. I read your post here and John's here and the links you have suggested... they will be the beginning to develop a clear picture for this role along with the links John kindly provided earlier. As for the primer on innovation and creative thinking you suggested: Tom Kelly's great work. Although I was introduced to IDEO long time ago when I started using a mouse... my only reason to study at Vancouver Film School (VFS) Digital design program was that I really got inspired by their "design thinking" and IDEO happens to inspire the digital design curriculum at VFS and let me assure you from day one at VFS we really see/feel/touch the influence they have... from team bombardment to deep dive... we have had our share of the secret formula.
    I truly believe that the way forward for business's today is in innovation or design thinking that take advantage of universal principles as simple as play. Or should I say it is an accepted truth... with Business Week launching Innovation section, and all the beta apps out there... it is only a matter of time before businesses embrace innovation. Which brings us to this role... and my humble questions to John and all of you... to help me and other candidates understand this position...
    Since we all agree with IDEO's command on the subject, allow me to use their language... The "secret formula" of nurturing innovation is a blend of methodologies, work practices, culture, and infrastructure. So my first question (a combo, more so) is towards John and the crew... The mission of the UX advisor as stated in the job description here... is to "engage with the broad community of designers and influential's learning the industry challenges and driving excitement around design related technologies for both the standards-web and windows platform". So the UX advisor when learns such industry challenges through depth engagements... brings in those insights to whom? in terms of the larger structure? what contributions does this role have on the broader development cycle for Microsoft's products... and especially Expressions suite? How does the CAN UX team work with other teams across Microsoft? How is the culture and infrastructure for innovation regarding this role?... since they are the key ingredients upon which the success of this role depends...
    I would really appreciate all your thoughts about this role... as the more I understand it... the more I can be true to it.
    It's a blast... been given this opportunity to get involved early in the process... and I will do my best to be in it all the way...

    Kindest Regards,

    Abdul Rehman

    References and links
    1. Key -
    2. Power of the few -
    3. Rightly said here (job description) -
    4. First effort -
    5. Audrey's post -
    6. John's post -
    7. Tom Kelly's work -
    8. IDEO -
    9. a mouse -
    10. Digital design program at VFS -
    11. Design Thinking -
    12. IDEO happens to inspire the digital design curriculum -
    13. Deep Dive -
    14. Secret Formula -
    15. Business Week Innovation -
    16. D-School -
    17. Businesses embrace innovation -

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Great Community Direction


    Audrey Carr took some time to give great guidance on the communities expectations for the role.   As we are investing in someone right out of school these are the people you will have to work with, show your passion and connect to!  

    Have a look at the post!


    Microsoft User Experience Advisor - Where’s the User Experience?

    In a move to embrace the Canadian UX and design community, Microsoft recently announced a job opening for a User Experience Advisor intern to promote it’s upcoming Expression software lineup.

    But here’s my problem: as far as I can tell, none of the candidates have demonstrated any knowledge of user experience or the needs of the user experience community. Wake up! It’s not about you or your resume - I want to know that you can empathize with and understand my needs as a designer, information architect, or web developer. If you want to talk to creatives, you need to understand the design process and how Microsoft’s new tools fit in to the larger picture. For a primer on innovative and creative thinking, why not learn from the best: check out what IDEO’s Tom Kelley has written about the power of design in solving tomorrow’s business problems: The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation, and learn what design thinking is all about.

    Where to Start?

    So, if you’re thinking of applying, check out the CANUX2006 conference blog and learn about the latest issues in our community. Also, how about conducting some preliminary user research? Send a friendly email to the UXIrregulars group and ask us about our needs. We’re more than willing to help and can’t wait to hear from you!

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