June, 2008

  • Canadian UX Blog

    [Mini-Tutorial] Creating a Silverlight Video Gallery

    • 9 Comments
    image

    As I promised in one of my  earlier posts to do a tutorial on how to create a Silverlight Video Gallery, here is the mini-tutorial (about 10 mins). It has two parts:

    • Use Expression Encoder 2 to create a standard Silverlight video gallery
    • Customize your video gallery in Expression Blend and save it back to Encoder as a template for future use

    To follow the mini-tutorial, you need the following software:

    Watch it streaming below or download it here.

     

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Enterprise 2.0 – Midori + SharePoint

    • 2 Comments

    My good friends Gene, Jess and team at nForm have finally demonstrated their awesome new project management applicaiton Midori.

    midori

    Midori is built on top of Sharepoint. And uses a completely custom layout engine.

    Part of Midori is an engine that gives us complete control over SharePoint's interface and interactions. We're still refining the interface, but we're able to make Midori look and work like just about any other web app (including standards-compliant mark-up and a bunch of ajax-y interactions).

    The thing that blows me away is:

    While we haven't made it completely cross-browser compatible, I use it regularly from my Mac without trouble.

    I don’t use my Mac for accessing many of the internal Microsoft SharePoint sites, mostly because the experience on Firefox 3 is unspectacular. But having built a truly cross-platform layout engine for SharePoint is a powerful tool. I wonder if they would consider licensing it to third-party SharePoint developers.That’s a different question.

    Why SharePoint?

    Gene suspects ‘we'll even answer that nagging question "why SharePoint?"’. I have a few suspicisions including:

    With companies like Atlassian shipping the SharePoint Connector for Confluence and NewsGator releasing Social Sites and SharePoint and SocialText’s SocialPoint (comments from Don Dodge), there is an ecosystem of products forming to help fill the gaps in SharePoint. It’s a product that is easy for IT departments to acquire, install and deploy. There are challenges (opportunities man, opportunities) for companies in deployment with the user experience and configuration options. But I could see companies like nForm, ThoughtFarmer and others building functional, usable, pleasurable user experiences on-top as a solution for the grow market space.

    Don summaries some of Ross Mayfield’s , CEO of SocialText, interesting points about building on the Microsoft platform.

    • The "humanizing" of Microsoft has changed his mind about working with Microsoft. He cites Ray Ozzie, Robert Scoble, Channel9 and blogs from Microsoft employees as examples.
    • SharePoint 2007 is a market leader, validates the category, and grows the market for everyone.
    • The short term value (role) for a wiki that supports SharePoint is immediately apparent.
    • SocialText has a profit motive, balanced by freedom, that will sell more seats of SocialText and SharePoint. Everyone wins.
    • SocialText customers told him this was a good idea. You can't lose when you listen to your customers.

    I’ve spent the past year trying to balance my desire to build profit driven companies with the freedom of the open idea. But for companies like nForm, partnering with Microsoft is a great way to leverage a successful sales and marketing engine that can help you sell more software.

    Plus nForm is hiring:

    Resources

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Design Story: Managing Human Capital for Large Organization

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    After joining Microsoft for almost a year and an half now, I'm still finding my way through the company organizational structure. Whenever I met a new person at Microsoft, I'd like to see the organizational tree they belong to and how their orgs relate to mine. A good visualization tool is definitely needed. :)

    In this design story, we introduce you the R&D team at Nakisa. They are a Canadian software company who is specialized in building Visual Workspace Management Solutions. I asked their master minds who are the architects and designers behind their OrgManagement Series application to share the high level design challenges, process, and best practice with you.

    image
    Farzin_Davari Charles_Lai

    Farzin Davari

    Manager, Process Engineering

    Research & Development

    Charles Lai

    VP Engineering

    Research & Development

    "Nakisa OrgManagement Series is a powerful web-based suite of enterprise software solutions used to access, visualize and model human capital and organizational directory information as well as enhance communication and collaboration company-wide. Nakisa’s goal is to help organizations make strategic decisions about how to better manage their global talent and optimize workforce performance by empowering them with a 360-degree view into their human capital data. " - Nakisa

     

    What are some high level design goals for OrgManagement Series?

    Charles: We wanted to deliver inaccessible HCM information to an entire organization in a very visual and easy to understand format. Surprisingly, if you talk to employees in large organizations, they generally have no idea where they actually fit in the organizational structure or understand how the corporate entity is organized!

    HCM systems in large enterprises are very rich in information that can help information workers make better decisions each and every day. The problem is that this information is often stored in many different systems, in a format that is difficult to understand and difficult to access because of strict security requirements.

    In the future, we want to, not only introduce a fresh new look and feel that is in tune with the current trends, we also want to bring a richer user experience to the thin client. It is critical for us to continue to improve the user interface while make our application as accessible as possible.

    Farzin: Organizational information is difficult to visualize because it depicts the relationships between individuals within the organization. It is much easier to visualize as a ‘tree’ or ‘graph’, rather than trying to imagine it just by looking at flat text. Nakisa presents this information as an organizational chart, which is easy to understand, and very intuitive for any information worker, so that they not only have access to information they did not have before they are able to understand and use it.

    How did you involve users throughout your design and development process?

    Charles: Actually, inspiration for our orgchart solution came from a user who shared with us, the pain of trying to access and visualize organizational information. From that humble beginning, we realized that the end user was truly the person that needed to be happy with the solution. As a result, we always approached the product as an evolving entity, taking the user’s feedback to guide us.

    The first iterations of the product provided users with a static orgchart that helped them solve their problem of visualizing organizational structure. The users looked at the static orgchart, and then asked about how they can see how the orgchart can be linked with other information within the organization, and we realized that the ability to navigate through the orgchart was a need that we had not foreseen! Taking that lesson to heart, we went through much iteration to add in functionality that included navigation and user customization, while always making sure that the application is easy to use.

    What are some design challenges when you were designing the system?

    Charles: Actually, just trying to make an application intuitive and easy to use can get really difficult. We try to balance offering many capabilities while keeping the interface simple so that the user doesn’t get confused!

    We looked at many ways to create our design so that actions are very obvious, but at the same time, every function available that is not visible must be hidden in the user interface somewhere… sometimes making it difficult for the user to remember and use.

    Farzin: Another design challenge we faced was to make the orgcharts customizable for any organization. The problem is that the requirements for displaying organizational information is very specific to each company, so we needed to develop a very customizable engine so that we can meet all the client’s requirements.

    What’s your team’s design process and some best practices that we can learn from?

    Charles: I think the most unique aspect of Nakisa’s design process is that we involve each and every developer in the user interface design. I find that there is this perception that developers don’t care about the user experience, and that they are perfectly to happy create bad user interfaces so long as it meets the requirements. I think that is actually very wrong! Developers are very in-tune with how the user experience is presented because they use a wide variety of software every day. They appreciate good designs, and can easily find flaws in the bad ones. The problem is that the industry puts a creative barrier around developers, saying that they are too technical, so they should not be involved with user interfaces.

    In Nakisa’s case, we bring the developers together to critique the user design, they often leverage their own experiences with new and nifty user interfaces into our design, keeping our product design cutting edge. Sometimes, we need to put a brake on ideas that are too different because we need to ensure that we always maintain a clean, professional look. To achieve that look, we focus on small details to introduce a new and trendy UI (such as reflections, shadows, use of different palettes and icon design), while maintaining a strong consistent layout to achieve a clean and professional user interface.

    Farzin: Yes, talking about focusing on details, that is one of the best achievements in our design process. We have several internal and cross team meetings where developers can share their ideas and reuse their experiences. Developers come up with new UI ideas in these meetings that we then have to capture and align together. Some ideas are ready to use right away, some of them have to be broken down and polished.

    To solve this issue, we came up with UI design pattern. So before jumping into code, a dedicated team finalizes and documents the UI design. This process is an iterative process and the rest of the developers act as stakeholders. The outcome of this effort is a reusable UI design pattern that we can apply it on all of our products.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Sports and Silverlight

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    This year is definitely a big year for sports. Euro 2008 just ended over the weekend, Wimbledon 2008 is happening now, and the most splendid sports event of all - summer Olympics is just a little over a month away. It's also a big year for using Silverlight supporting an online rich experience to view these sports events as they happen. I collected a list of Silverlight sports site below.

     Euro 2008 in Germany, Italy, and Netherlands

    clip_image001 clip_image001[4] image

    Wimbledon 2008 streaming site in Netherlands

    image

    The user can select the match/court to look at. When you go to the score list, the played matches can be watched on-demand. The statistics of the match are streamed in the video and therefore also showed in the on-demand views.

    Beijing Summer Olympics streaming on NBC.com

    image  
    NBC Olympics Player

    Other sport sites:

    image image image
    image image image

      

     

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  • Canadian UX Blog

    [Podcast] Microsoft Designer: Jeffrey Dunn

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    image There are about 500 designers working at Microsoft. People in the UX community are often very surprised to hear about it. I think part of it is we haven't given our designers enough opportunities to talk about what they do and what's it like to work as designers at Microsoft. Therefore, I used my spared time during my visit to Redmond last time to chat with Jeffrey Dunn, who is a UX Designer at Office Design Team. Jeff mainly works on SharePoint UI.

    In the 11 minutes interview below, I asked Jeff about:

    • How does his team working together to create the UX vision?
    • What is it like to work as a UX Designer at Microsoft?
    • Office applications are so established, does it limited Office designers' creativity since they can't build something from scratch?
    • What are Jeff's daily activities?
    • What are some necessary skills to be a good UX Designer?

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Mobile Device Review: Bell Samsung Ace

    • 1 Comments

    As you have probably seen on the other community blogs from our group, we are occasionally given hardware from various vendors to review.  In this case, Bell Canada has provided me with a Samsung Ace, a Windows Mobile 6 device to try out.

    Before I get into my review, I want to preface it by providing you with some insight as to how I typically use mobile devices such as smartphones.  This will allow you to get an idea of how I prioritize features the smartphone provides and allow you to understand why I grade things a certain way. 

    Paul's Mobile Usage Profile:

    I wouldn't define myself as a complete "power user" of smartphones, but I know my way around them pretty well.  I use the features that can be considered most popular on smartphones (email and calendaring, phone, some web browsing, etc.), but I am not the type of person who puts an 8GB memory card on my phone so I can load up all the newest games and gadgets.

    I don't often open up Microsoft Office documents or PDFs on my phone to view or edit them, but I have on occasion done just that so that functionality is fairly important to me.

    I occasionally use the camera feature but I wouldn't consider this to be a feature I use more than once a week.

    Outside of the "out-of-the-box" Bubble Breaker game included with Windows Mobile, I don't play games on the phone. 

    For phone calls, I typically use my phone for business with some personal calls mixed in (I'd say the mix of phone usage is 80% business, 20% personal).

    From a hardware perspective, there are a few things that I consider to be very important to my experience with a smartphone. 

    First is the feel of the keyboard buttons - before I was given the Samsung Ace to play with, I had a Blackberry 7250 (in a previous job, of course!  :-)  ) and the Motorola Q (with Windows Mobile 5).  I loved the tactile feel of the flat buttons found on the Blackberry, and hated the rounded buttons on the Motorola Q.

    Second, the phone buttons (number buttons, call answer and call hang-up) should be very easy to reach without looking and should not get in the way of a typical phone conversation.  Like I have said, I owned a Blackberry and the call hang-up button on it was positioned in such a way that I often hung up the phone mid-call by mistake.

    Third are the navigational buttons (like the center button, scroll wheel, etc.).  These should be useable but should not cause me problems during normal use of the device (either during a phone call or while using the device as a mobile computer).

    So, with that essay complete, on to the review!  I've separated the review into sections (Phone Experience, Email & Calendar Experience, Browsing Experience, Application Experience, Hardware Layout, Connectivity, Overall) to make the review a little bit more intuitive.

    Phone Experience

    The Samsung Ace is a great phone.  It has a great form factor for phone calls (I personally don't like phones that are too small) and the fact that it is not a clamshell style is a big plus in my book (with previous clamshell phones I've used, I've had horrible experiences so I'm biased in that respect).

    The sound quality of the phone is excellent.  The calls I receive come in crystal clear and signal strength is better than other phones I have used.  A good test for this is my basement - signal strength is very low in my basement for other phones I have had and this phone has much better signal reception here. 

    The buttons on the device facilitating phone calls are excellent.  The "Initiate a Call" button and "Call End" buttons are large and easily accessible for use even without having to look at the device.  On the flip side, the button to hang up a call has never caused me to drop a call inadvertently (per the comment I made above). 

    The same experience goes for the wired headset that comes with the smartphone out of the box (see below).  I have no comments regarding wireless headset experience (i.e.:  Bluetooth headsets) as I do not have one to test the phone on.

    My Grade:  B+

    Email & Calendar Experience

    The email experience on the Samsung Ace is very good.  The device picks up emails very quickly (actually, it consistently picks up new email in my inbox more quickly than my Outlook client!). 

    Viewing email is great.  Windows Mobile 6 allows for both text-based email viewing as well as rich, HTML-based email viewing and both display very nicely.  The experience that HTML-based email provides is a real joy and really helps when you are given emails in HTML format (which were, for all intents and purposes unreadable on my previously owned devices).  Finally, one of the features that is very welcome for me is the ability to read secured email through certificates.  With Exchange 2007, you can send emails that are read-only, do-not-forward, do-not-reply-all, etc. and in my previous Windows Mobile device I couldn't read them but now I can. 

    Calendaring on the Samsung is also an amazing experience.  The richness facilitated by Windows Mobile 6 is fully available on the device and as a result, I can do pretty much anything with a meeting invite that I could on my Outlook client.  The only thing I noticed was that in one case, a meeting invite that I modified to schedule it later in the day didn't seem to synchronize to my Outlook client.  Lucky I caught that little inconsistency, but it did lead me to raise the point here.

    My Grade:  B

    Browsing Experience

    Browsing the internet is quick on IE for Mobile and it also says a lot about the speed of the Bell EVDO network.  The mobile client browsing experience is nice and the images are crisp and clear on the screen.

    Forms control is usually pretty good, but occasionally I run into hiccups with them.  Overall, however, the forms support seems to work quite nicely.

    One thing that is lacking is a good, non-mobile browser.  It would be nice if a true HTML browser was included in the package as this would truly round out the whole experience.  Having said that, I wouldn't use it that often as I'd probably go over my data charge limit...

    My Grade:  B-

    Application Experience

    There are a great number of applications on the Samsung Ace out of the box.  Certainly many more than I saw on my previous Windows Mobile device. 

    I already talked about Internet Explorer and Email & Calendaring above so I won't get into that again here.  But the other applications on the device are plentiful and run very nicely on the Samsung Ace.  Some of the applications of note are the International Usage application (to switch between CDMA and GSM - more on that in the "Connectivity" section below), the World Clock, Smart Converter (for measurement conversion), Tip Calculator and Live Search for Mobile are all excellent.

    Some of these are critical to me (Live Search for Mobile is one example - if you have a Windows Mobile 5 device or above, I strongly suggest you take a look at this free software here).

    Finally, I will say that the Samsung Ace is a fast machine.  I don't have the lag problems I've seen on other devices. 

    My Grade:  A

    Hardware Layout

    As I stated above, I've had good and bad experience with the layout of the hardware on smartphones.  The Samsung Ace is actually pretty good with its hardware layout.  I described the positives of the hardware layout with respect to phone calls and it's pretty good in that respect.

    The buttons on the keyboard, while not flat, are pretty good.  It still took a little getting used to but overall I like what I'm seeing and experiencing in this respect.  I am able to type as fast as I was able to on the Blackberry I used to have and certainly a great deal faster than I did with my Motorola Q.

    The layout of the various buttons is fairly intuitive as well - you can see fairly quickly how to operate the buttons efficiently and it doesn't take long to get used to them.

    I am also happy with the way the buttons light up in the dark.  Only the symbols on the buttons light up rather than the entire button itself (e.g.:  in the dark, the button for the "sym" button lights up only the word "sym", not the whole button).  This may seem like a trivial matter, but to me it's aesthetically pleasing and actually helps me see the button better.

    The one downside to the hardware layout is the center button on the navigational pane.  While it is serviceable, it is flush with the "left / right / up / down" navigation square, which may look nice but makes it a little tougher to click.  Not a huge deal but if you're doing something quickly and don't press the center button explicitly, you may end up somewhere you didn't expect.

    The battery life is very good.  With normal usage (for me), it will last two days (sometimes more) on a single charge which is a welcome change from my other phones.

    Finally, I want to talk about the screen.  This is the crispest, clearest screen on a smartphone that I have owned and I would say it ranks up there with the best of them in that category.  While it isn't the largest screen around (that honour goes to a phone starting with an "i"...), it is easily in the top echelon of smartphones for screen readability.

    My Grade:  A-

    Connectivity

    The Samsung Ace is a great phone for a number of reasons, but one of the ones that makes it really stand out is its capability to act as either a CDMA or GSM phone.  This phone will work under both networks, which is an incredible benefit if you are in an area not covered by CDMA.  Although I personally have not had to use the GSM capability yet, I hear it is reliable so I can't comment about this first hand.

    Connectivity and synchronization with my PC goes off without a hitch.  This is a great device for synchronizing data between the two and I have not had a problem with that yet.

    The only negative point to make in this category (and to me this is a big negative) is the synchronization cable.  The Samsung Ace connector port on the device itself is proprietary which means you can't use a USB 2.0 A/B cable with it.  This means if you lose or damage your synch cable, you'll probably be spending a lot more on a replacement than you would have if you could use a standard USB cable. 

    My Grade:  C+ (would have been an "A" if it weren't for the proprietary synch cable)

    What Comes in the Box

    You get a lot in the box when you get a Samsung Ace.  In fact, more than you typically get.  First, you get the smartphone (big surprise there).  You also get the synch cable and power charger  (two more non-surprises).  What you also get are adapters for non-North American power plugs.  This is pretty cool given it's something you'd probably be using if you were switching to GSM as most of the rest of the world uses GSM.

    You also get a wired headset for the smartphone which is nice.  No bluetooth headset, but that is not an issue (nor did I expect it out of the box).

    What I was disappointed in not seeing (but this is also not a surprise as most phones don't include it in the box) is a car charger kit.  It would be nice to see a manufacturer of smartphones include a car charger as part of the kit for a change. 

    Finally, the documentation appears to be detailed enough to help you through most troubleshooting issues you might have, as well as an insert from Bell Canada on various overseas phone numbers to call should you run into technical problems.

    My Grade:  B+

    Overall Impressions

    Of all the smartphones I have used on a daily basis, the Samsung Ace is by far the best one I've seen.  In fact, I highly recommend it for anyone interested in a smartphone.  It's a fantastic device, looks pretty slick, runs fast and has great signal reception.  It's a great addition to the Bell Mobility lineup and I think it will be a very popular product.

    My Grade:  A

     

    Do you have a Samsung Ace?  Leave a comment and tell us what you think of it!

    [Edited (09/07/2008):  Changed EDGE reference to EVDO - mistake on my part]

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Design Student of the Month - David Chang

    • 1 Comments

    There are a lot of creative students in Canada who are doing innovative work to improve people's life through interactive, visual, informational, and other aspects of User Experience Design. I invited them to introduce who they are and share their work with you. To nominate a Design Student of the Month, email us. The Design Student of the Month for June 2008 is David Chang! Congratulations!! Let's hear from David.

     bio pic 1

    Who’s David?

    I am a recent graduate from the Industrial Design program from the Ontario College of Art and Design. My primary interest has been in the development of unique furniture that offer a unique perspective on what objects can be and how they can perform. Although there is a growing interest in creating virtual experiences as a designer of physical objects I am fascinated with how new narratives and forms of dialogue can be created through these objects and generate unexpected experiences.

    What cool things is David working on?

    My end of year thesis project revolved around creating new experiences for spaces in need of revitalization. In this case I was looking at the library as the subject matter and in particular the library carrel. Through extensive research of what types of furniture are currently available on the market for libraries and how guests are currently using the various facilities and services I developed a hybrid desk that fuses together characteristics and functions of a shopping cart and a personal work desk. The concept was to bring some energy, movement and fun to the library space while providing guests with the necessary tools to complete certain tasks. The library shouldn’t be boring; it should be stimulating in every way possible.

    Currently I am working as Visual Stylist for Canadian retailer Holt Renfrew, working on creating unique narratives and installations for the company’s downtown flagship store windows in Toronto. My experience in model making and my background as a fine artist has allowed me to create one of a kind pieces, such as photo installations and headpieces, for many of the store’s well-recognized and revered displays.

    What are David’s plans after graduation?

    I am currently doing some summer traveling in Europe with the hopes of getting a grander understanding of what design could do, the types of stories it can tell and how it builds unique relationships with people from various backgrounds. I am continuously looking for new opportunities to enrich my own practice as a designer and could see myself involved with others who seek to push the boundaries of design through multiple forms and outlets.

    Want to learn more about David?

    If you are interested in other work I have created I can be reached at david.hyun.chang@gmail.com. A web portfolio is currently on the works so keep your eyes peeled. Thank you.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Zune is here in Canada!

    • 1 Comments

    Today is very exiting for the Zune team here in Canada. The new family of Zune products (4GB, 8GB, and 80GB) are available in Canada, in stores like Future Shop, Wal-Mart, HMV, Best Buy, and The Source by Circuit City. Zune has everything you expect in a digital media player plus FM radio, wireless sync & sharing, and an online music community called Zune Social.  I especially like how the Zune team is highlighting Canadian artists through the launch campaign. Users can get their customized device using Zune Originals, an online service that let them customize their devices with laser-etched text dedications, or artwork from some amazing artists. To celebrate Zune’s launch in Canada, Zune Originals now also includes 7 designs from 6 Canadian artists and etching is FREE to Canadians for the first 3 months!

    In the video below, Toronto based artist, Derrick Hodgson talks about his artwork with Zune.

     

    www.zune.ca: Download free Zune software and join the Zune Social online community
    www.zuneoriginals.ca: Customize a Zune with artwork from Canadian artists
    www.zunenews.ca: Get the latest Zune information and high-resolution images

    Zune launch events this weekend:

    Toronto

    • Date: June 13th  3:30-4:30pm
    • Event: Live performance at retail featuring Wintersleep (2008 Juno Award winners of “New Group of the Year”)
    • Where: Best Buy, Bay & Dundas St. (beside amazing store front: see below)

    Toronto

    • Date: June 14th 10pm – 2am
    • Event: Brand experience at Rockstar Hotel evening before MMVAs (Much Music Video Awards)

    Montreal

    • Date: June 12th 10pm – 2am
    • Event: Exclusive concert performance featuring BEAST
    • Where: La Tulipe 
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  • Canadian UX Blog

    Where do you get your inspiration?

    • 2 Comments

    Lately I ran into different blogs and articles that talk about inspiration. So, where do you get your inspiration? Here are some tools and resource for inspiration.

    Inspired by Mood

    image

    Moodstream: Getty’s Streaming Inspiration

    “The site cycles through photos, videos and music using their huge cache of media as source material. Getty has created a tool for creative professionals (or everyone else) to find fresh inspiration. The control panel has sliders to adjust the mood and tone of the media; happy to sad, warm to cool. You’re also able to save favorites, and (of course) purchase the media.”

    Listen to Experts

    "I’ve often believed that the best designers don’t get their ideas and inspiration from the place they work. As a designer that works in the social web space, I do look at a large number of new sites that come through the pipeline for inspiration. However, I also am a big advocate of experimenting with things that are seemingly unrelated and trying to connect those experiences to my work on the web." - Kev/null

    A Twitter account called Inspiring, where Stephen, Coley, Patrick Haney (who runs a web inspiration Flickr set) and kev/null  post inspiring, innovative or beautiful artifacts.

    Kev/null's review of Stephen's presentation on inspiration.

    My Suggestions

    I consider myself in Software User Experience Design, but I often find myself inspired by other design disciplines such as Industrial Design and Fashion Design. I read the Modern and  Contemporary Design Blog and love to flip through Vogue magazine.

    Other good inspiration sources:

    Finally, be inspired by nature. Go to your favourite outdoor places that give you a peaceful mind and great inspiration.

    I'd love to hear how you get your inspiration, so drop me a line!

    Qixing

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  • Canadian UX Blog

    Green Tagging - Sustainability for Small Business Owners

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    Back in April, I had the opportunity to judge an in-class user interface design competition at UofT. The projects presented at the competition all based on this year's Imagine Cup theme: imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment. It was very interesting to see the various software and physical interfaces created to solve an environmental problem, help people save more energy, or raise environmental awareness. More importantly, it was a unique learning experience for computer science students who have never taken interaction design or usability training before.  It changed the way they think about users in the whole software development process. I invited the winning team to talk about their project and learning.

    Project: Green Tagging (poster)

    Designers:  Mike Conley, Isaac Ezer, Sean McIntyre, Lin Zhou
    The Department of Computer Science at The University of Toronto

    "The Design of Interactive Computational Media, taught by Professor Ilona Posner, challenged students to "imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment." Large and wealthy businesses often invest in professional counselling in order to discover methods of increasing the sustainability of their business practices. Our response to the above challenge consisted of a way to cheaply and practically bring the benefits of this counselling to small business owners.

    Initial research into this problem space suggested the existence of two distinct groups:  small businesses which were experienced in improving the sustainability of their practices and those which were interested in accomplishing this.  Using the user-centered design process detailed in our course, we created a social networking website known as 'Green Tagging' to provide these groups with a place to share their questions, ideas, information and experience.  By encouraging this collaborative production of knowledge, we hoped that 'Green Tagging' would accumulate practical sustainability solutions conceived of and tested by small businesses owners, for small business owners.


    This opportunity to engage in user-centered design and user testing proved to be a deeply educational experience.  We found ourselves consistently surprised by those things which were and were not intuitive to our diverse group of potential users.  Though challenging, attempting to satisfy their varying needs and requirements by employing the design principles learned in our course was both enlightening and enjoyable."

    Below is a photo of the winning team with me and Mark Relph (VP, Developer & Platform Evangelism, Microsoft Canada)

    image

  • Canadian UX Blog

    New Silverlight and Expression Blend Beta

    • 1 Comments

     image   image

    Last Friday, we released both Silverlight 2 Beta 2 and Expression Blend 2.5 June Preview. This was a major milestone for us. Many features people were asking for in Silverlight and Expression Blend at last week's Silverlight User Group meeting such as rich UI controls, control skinning, and web services are available in the new release.

    ScottGu has a comprehensive list of new features in his post. Expression Blend Team blog illustrates the detailed new features in Blend and Deep Zoom composers in their latest posts. These are two great places to learn more about the new release. Couple of things to point out about SLBeta2:

    • Aside from the new features in Silverlight 2 Beta 2, it supports a go-live license which allows you to start using and deploying Silverlight 2 for commercial applications.
    • Silverlight 2 Beta2 is compatible with applications that target Silverlight 1.0. Silverlight 2 Beta2 will not run applications that target Silverlight 2 Beta1, since we've made a number of API changes between the two betas for the new features being added in Silverlight 2. For instructions on how to convert Silverlight Beta1 applications to Beta2, please refer to MSDN article - Silverlight Versioning. To read more about the differences between Beta1 and Beta2, MSDN article on Breaking Changes and Shawn Wildermuth's What Changed in Silverlight 2 Beta2 are great resources.
  • Canadian UX Blog

    IxDA Interation|09 in Vancouver

    • 1 Comments

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    One of my favourite discussion list is IxDA. It's a great place for interaction designers to ask design questions, share best practices, and virtually network with each other. Some members have met each other at various ID and web conferences, but this year IxDA had its very first conference in Savannah College of Arts and Design. I didn't get a chance to go but heard great feedback about it.

    IxDA recently announced Interaction|09 with Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, B.C. February 5-8, 2009. That's something I'm not planning to miss. :)

    "The Interaction Design Association (IxDA) is pleased to announce Interaction|09, to be held February 5-8, 2009 in conjunction with Simon Fraser University's School of Interactive Arts + Technology, and the Faculty of Business, located in lovely Vancouver, B.C. Mark your calendars now for what promises to be another exciting and informative conference centered around the design of interactive systems of all types, from web and desktop applications, to mobile devices, consumer electronics, digitally-enhanced environments, and more. This will be our growing community's second annual opportunity to gather with several hundred other Interaction Design professionals from around the world.

    About IxDA: http://ixda.org
    Founded in 2003, the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) is a member- supported organization committed to serving the needs of the international interaction design community. With the help of thousands of members worldwide, we provide a forum for the discussion of interaction design issues. IxDA's mission includes evangelism of our field, innovation in our discipline, professionalism in our standards of practice, support for interaction design education in academic programs, and community building for our growing global community of interaction design professionals."

  • Canadian UX Blog

    A solution to hard drive space problems

    • 0 Comments

    As the proliferation of media (music, video, etc.), project files and programs continues to grow, so does the headache of managing your hard disk drive space.  If you're anything like me, you're probably frustrated in always archiving data just to make space on your hard drive without knowing where exactly the largest file folders are.  There's lots of tools out there to help with this, but over the weekend I found this great, open source nugget that helps you view where your data is on your hard drive so you can target specific folders for archive.

    The tool is called WinDirStat and it's a great tool for showing you how much data is in each file on your hard drive (not to mention other, attached drives on your PC.

    It's a free application and it's a great little tool.  I invite you to take a look at it.

    Paul

  • Canadian UX Blog

    The Expression Professional Subscription is now live

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    In a previous post, I mentioned that Microsoft was bringing out the new Expression Professional Subscription to help designers build great experiences in WPF and Silverlight.  The Subscription is now live and can be purchased.

    The site can be found here.

    Again, the benefits of the subscription are many, some of which are listed below:

    • Currently in Subscription
      • The full Expression Studio 2 Suite (Design, Blend, Web, Media and Encoder)
      • Visual Studio Standard
      • Microsoft Office 2007 Standard
      • Microsoft Office Visio 2007 Professional
      • Windows Vista Business Edition
      • Windows XP Professional
      • Virtual PC
      • Parallels Desktop for Mac and PC
      • Design, development and test licenses
      • Technical Support Incidents
    • Products Announced and will be in the subscription soon
      • Windows Vista Ultimate
      • Microsoft Office Project 2007
      • Microsoft Office Groove Server 2007

    All in all, this is a great way to start building WPF and Silverlight experiences for a very low price.  Pricing is also available on the site here.

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