• Canadian UX Blog

    [Mini-Tutorial] Blend 3: SketchFlow Part II


    Bill Buxton talks about the difference between “Sketch” and “Prototype” in this his Sketching User Experiences. (see the summary below)


    I agree sketching is an important part of the design process, but often times it’s hard to share our paper and pen sketches and get feedback from others. Following Part I of the SketchFlow tutorial, this tutorial demos the SketchFlow player and different ways designers can share their design ideas.

    You can also download the video here.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    [Mini-Tutorial] Blend 3: SketchFlow Part I


    Two years and an half ago, when I first joined Microsoft, we were getting ready to release Expression Studio 1. Expression Blend is a key product in the studio and works closely with Visual Studio. It was a great first step to support designers with visual tools to help them build rich interactive web and client. However, both Blend1 and Blend 2 were focused on supporting the final design within the production phrase. Much of the work designers do with in the ideation and early prototyping stages were not well supported.

    The figure below illustrate a typical iterative design process, and the highlighted rectangle shows the final design phrase that Blend 1 & 2 supported. Many designers I talked to have this question: Would Blend support conceptual design and interaction design in the future and would it integrate with your Office suites? The answer is YES!


    Blend 3 Beta was announced at MIX this year, and the SketchFlow demo generated lots of excitement among the designer community. After MIX, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on SketchFlow, and I know a lot of you are patiently waiting the release of Blend 3 which includes SketchFlow. So, l thought to record my learning experience with Blend as mini-tutorials to show you a number of things I found very useful as a designer. Hopefully, they’ll give you a quick start.

    This is the first part of the SketchFlow tutorial includes topics on:

    • managing Blend workspace for SketchFlow
    • creating new screens in Flow Pane and link between them
    • using sketch styles and integrating your sketches
    • creating component screens that can be added to each screen

    You can also download the video here.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    SketchFlow and Blend 3 Presentation at Waterloo



    So, you have a great design idea…
    How do you turn your conceptual design ideas into rich prototypes ready for production?
    How do you share your design ideas with others effectively at each stage?

    Come and join me next Thursday at University of Waterloo Accelerator Center to learn about the answers to these questions. I’ll introduce a new component in Expression Blend 3 called, SketchFlow. It is a fun, flexible and powerful way to sketch and prototype rich and dynamic interactivity into your application. Come and learn how SketchFlow allows you to quickly iterate on your designs and share these designs with your colleagues for feedback.  Previous knowledge in Expression Blend is not necessary.

    In particular, I’ll cover the following topics:

    • create your design sketches and navigations in SketchFlow
    • share your design in SketchFlow player and receive feedback from others
    • export your design into Word as specs
    • create behaviors and effects Blend 3
    • visual data binding and sample data usage in Blend 3

    Here are the event details:

    From Concept to Production: Prototyping with Expression Blend 3

    Time: 5:00-7:30pm, June 25
    Location: Accelerator Centre Main Foyer, 295 Hagey Blvd. - Behind the Columbia Ice Fields. Food and Beverage will be served.
    Registration: RSVP for this free event by registering online at http://ic.infusionangels.com

    See you next Thursday!

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Design Student of the Month – Jin Fan


    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 2009 is Jin Fan! Congratulations!! Let's hear from Jin.

    image Jin

    Who’s Jin?

    I am an undergraduate honors degree candidate who is in my final year of completing my Bachelors of Science degree with a specialization in Interaction Design. I currently reside in Vancouver, British Columbia, where I study in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) at Simon Fraser University (SFU). I love being creative all the time and searching for new opportunities. Interaction design is such a diverse and interdisciplinary field. By studying it for more than four years, I have had experience learning a broad range of subjects from human computer interactions, usability, information visualization, design methodologies, cognitive science to communication design, human factors and so on. The collaborative learning environment in my program not only allows me to work with colleagues with different skill-sets and academic background, but also allow me to see how interaction design brings a new dimensions to benefit people’s life and the society at large.

    What cool stuff is Jin doing?

    Last year, my partner Kevin Muise and I attended the 2008 Microsoft Imagine Cup global final in Paris, France. Our GreeNet Facebook application design along with the proposal of re-designing an air pollution system for seniors during the 24-hours final competition made us won the 2nd place in the Interface Design category. Kevin and I are continuing our research and study in regard to energy visualization and sustainability. Currently, we both are involved in a project of developing an adoptive living interface for a solar powered home.

    Last week (June 9-10), two of my projects, Bike App and The Looking Glass, were selected to showcase to the public as part of the Made in Brunel competition in London, UK. The two projects were published in the book Made in Brunel 2009: Thinking Out Loud. Bike App is a fitness iPhone application, which allows biking enthusiasts and iPhone users to enhance their workout through real time scenic and data visualization. Whether it’s hitting the trails on a sunny day or hopping on a bike at the gym for some cardio, the application uses iPhone’s built-in microphone and GPS capabilities to processes heart rate and calorie data into visually motivational and informative displays. As the lead designer of this project, I designed the graphical user interface and the navigations for the prototype.

    In addition, I have also explored some other area of interaction design and its approach in terms of user-oriented design process. The design of the Droog showroom was an example of integrating interaction design approach on designing architectural environment. My team tried to explore and consider how people interact within a space and how a well designed space can enhance and encourage positive behaviour.

    This short video below highlights some of the projects I have worked on at Simon Fraser University.

    What are Jin's plans after graduation?

    I look forward working in a creative organization and developing my specialities in the area of interaction design and user experience. I want to bring my passion in design to my future workplace and one of my goals is to contribute positively to people and society through better design and user experience.

    Want to learn more about Jin?

    I can be contacted via email at jfan.info@gmail.com or visit my website at www.sfu.ca/~jfa2

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Designers are Evangelists


    Do you think designers are evangelists? Outside of the religion context, an evangelist “is a person who enthusiastically promotes or supports something” according to Wikipedia. Based on this definition, we designers are obviously User Experience evangelists. The slide below is from the training that new designers take at Microsoft, which explicitly calls designers are evangelists. 

    slide includes reasons of why a designer is also an evangelist

    Why is important for designers to be evangelists in their teams? In addition to the reasons provided on the slide, I think it’s the best way for UX design to scale in a software development team. Think about the designer-developer ratio in any development team,  most of time is 1: many. Although designers create the overall software UX design, developers build the final UX in the product. If designers can help developers understand good UX practice and the design rationales behind, it will result in an end-to-end high quality user experience. Especially when a team is working on a large product, designers usually cannot design every aspect of the product and rely on developers to make good UX design decisions.

    Evangelizing UX design and Microsoft UX technologies is my daily job. I think “Influence” is the most useful skill for designers to evangelize in their teams.


    The graph bellow illustrates that there are limited things we can control, but there are more things we can influence than control. The larger their sphere of influence is, the more likely someone can achieve their desired results. In the context of a software product team, maybe it’s more effective for designers to focus on influencing an experience rather than feeling the need to control it.

     influence control sphere

    But how to influence others effectively? Here are my tips:

    • Your influence power grows when you have more people stand by your side. For example, if you have a User Researcher or a technical writer working on the team as well, then he/she could be your best ally.
    • Most of the time, you are influencing without authority. Maintaining a great relationship in the cross-disciplinary team is critical. 
    • In order to influence others with your design ideas, you need to clearly and creatively communicate your ideas. If you are influencing others with your design principles, make sure the principles are easy to understand and placed in handy locations where others can review them often. Also, consider communicating your design ideas in different formats (e.g. online or offline) according to the audience you are talking to.
    • Build your credibility in the team by providing guidance and support to others. Don’t just focus on what you are doing and your portion of the project, providing help to others when necessary will help you grow your influence power in the long run.

    Why not start practicing your influencing skills with the tips above and be the UX evangelist in your team!

  • Canadian UX Blog

    How to Best Work and Connect with You?


    zombie picture: I can has brainz?It’s survey time. Wait! Don’t run away yet. It’s a survey to ensure that our team correctly identifies opportunities that would be of interest to you and discover what level you would be willing to share insights and collaborate across our programs, activities and in the community.

    Simply put by my college Joey DeVilla on his blog: “Microsoft Canada Wants to Pick Your Brain!” And he has great images to convince you. :) Help us to better work and connect with you by complete the short survey here.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    The Art of SEO and IIS


    If you develop/design public websites for your customers, you likely already know first-hand how important a good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy is to its success.  Generating traffic to a website is hard and is downright impossible to do well without making it easy for internet search engines like Bing, Google or Yahoo! to find the content on your site and index it properly for search queries.

    Anybody that has been following most of the events I have been presenting of late knows that I think the Microsoft Web Platform Installer (WPI) is kind of a big thing.  If you’ve seen or played with the WPI, you know how useful it can be for laying the groundwork for you to build your web solution on top of.  If you haven’t seen it yet, it may interest you to watch my webcast on the WPI on-demand here. You may be wondering how the WPI and SEO are linked.  Well, today, Microsoft announced a new feature added to the WPI called the IIS Search Engine Optimization Toolkit.  You can download the SEO toolkit on its own from the link, but most web developers/designers building a site hosted on IIS will use the WPI to install it.

    SEO-Toolkit-SMALL[1] The initial announcement of this new feature of IIS came from the blog of Microsoft’s corporate VP for the .NET Developer Platform and serious technical wizard, Scott Guthrie.  He gives a very detailed tour of the IIS SEO Toolkit in that post so if you want to know the nitty gritty details, I would invite you to take a look at the post. 

    In a nutshell, the IIS7 SEO Toolkit can:

    • Improve the volume and quality of traffic to your website from search engines
    • Control how search engines access and display your web content
    • Tell search engines about locations on your site available for indexing

    The IIS7 SEO Toolkit contains:

    • Site Analysis tools to help you identify and fix SEO-related issues on your site
    • User friendly tools to manage robot and spider exclusions
    • A user interface for sitemaps and managing sitemap indices

    Below are important links for the IIS7 SEO Toolkit:

    So if you’re building public websites where traffic is an important consideration, you may want to check this tool out.


  • Canadian UX Blog

    Search It with Bing


    Bing is the new Microsoft search experience and it’s live now for Canada! I’ve been using it for a while internally as Kumo. There’s already very lively conversation on Twitter about Bing. Some people like it after giving it a try and see the improvements we are making in search experience. Others are very skeptical about the new brand. I have to say I wasn’t sure about the name Bing at first, but then I got to know the reasoning behind, it suddenly made a lot of sense.

    Why called Bing?

    Bing is the ringing of a bell that signals the “aha” moment when a search leads to an answer. It’s the “sound of found” – short and simple, which functions well as a URL. In China, we added two Chinese characters to the name “应 Bing.”  The Chinese character is pronounced “bee-ying” and its meaning is derived from the last two characters of a Chinese proverb “有求必应,” which means - Ask and you shall find – very fitting :-).

    Why new search UX?

    As a UX designer, I used to think search experience should be as simple as possible because you want users spend less time on your search page but more time on the destination pages, there’s not much innovation space in search UX. However, Bing changed my opinion. There’s so much more we can innovate to help users in the “Search, Find, Decide” workflow cycle. Here are some examples:

    1. Many people set their browser homepage to be a search page (e.g. google.com) because the most frequent task they do when opening a browser is to search. Why not make the homepage experience more pleasant and dynamic by showing a different background picture everyday?


    2. The search result page layout - think about this page as the hub for everything related to a particular search query. In this case, the common user activities when search for “Toronto blue jays” should be present on this page. For example, a user may want to see when is the next game or go to the blue jays ticket page. The goal is that users shouldn’t need to conduct another related search query to find what they need.


    3. Instead of searching for Air Canada and then searching for the flight number on the Air Canada website, finding a flight status by searching it directly on Bing. Help users to find the information they need with the least amount of search.


    4. Help users make better decision after searching by providing contextual reviews. In the example below, I searched for a Sushi restaurant in Vancouver and was able to preview the exact location and customer reviews of the restaurant.


    5. Search within Search -this feature is not yet available in Canada, but I hope soon. Most people go to Amazon.com to search for things to buy. Why not make this easier by letting users to search directly on the search result page? image

    Now I think sky is the limit for search experience. There’s plenty of room for innovation around how we can connect search with other related user activities such as decision making, how we can support search experience based on people’s preference and intension, and how we can make search a connected experience on web, desktop, and devices.

    Search it with Bing and let me know what you think. Let’s improve our search experience together.

    Other suggested readings for Bing:

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  • Canadian UX Blog

    TechDays Expands to Another city in 2009!!

    TechDays 2008 was such a success that we had many comments and feedback that we should expand it to more cities.  Given our goal to support your development with skills growth, connecting you with your peers and experts to share insights and lessons learned, as well as helping your continued learning journey with the learning kit, it made sense to listen to this opportunity.  We have been planning TechDays 2009 since January and as part of the planning process, we also did a capacity review.   Going through the capacity review we realized that we could grow and support up to 8 or 9 cites with a limit of only adding one per year.   As soon as we found this out, we reviewed all your emails and comments around this area….and there were lots. 

    Personally, I received over 1000 emails.   From the review, it was clear that the two cities with the loudest voices were Edmonton and Halifax.  As an FYI other cities for which we received feedback included Quebec City, Moncton, Victoria, Saskatoon, Waterloo

    and Regina.  I then directed our team on two paths to find out which city was going to be added this year.  Barnaby Jeans lead the data and analytics with John Bristowe, Damir Bersinic  and Rick Claus leading the community outreach. 

    I never thought that this outreach would go to the levels that it did.  From the passionate emails, support from local venues to the broad social media groundswell - it was amazing.  I wish that I could choose both, yet we just can’t support adding two cities this year.  There was passion from both cites and with the data and analytics correctly hitting the numbers, we needed to go forward with the only differentiator -- the community voice. 

    The city that won started out behind and surpassed the other with their connected community outreach.  They went past the city perspective and rallied as a larger entity…..The Maritimes.  Yes, I’m proud to announce that on November 2 & 3, 2009, TechDays 2009 will be in Halifax.

    Both cities were represented very well!  As a result of the great community response, I feel that everyone who took the time to raise their voice should be recognized for their efforts!  You know who you are, and in addition to our thanks, please reach out to Rick, Damir or John and they’ll extend to you a special Directors TechDays discount offer to attend TechDays 2009.  Please note the offer will be valid during the pre-registration period from June 15 until July 1.

    Thanks again for all your feedback and support for TechDays.  Stay tuned for more information for early bird registration coming in July!  For those that attended last year watch your inbox mid to late June for a special thanks for your loyalty!



    John Oxley

    Director Technical Audience Marketing and ICT Evangelism
    Microsoft Canada | Direct (905) 363- 8589|Messenger
    joxley@microsoft.com | twitter:joxley

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Vancouver / Toronto Event: Make Web, Not War Episode 2009


    As a solution provider, the web presents an ever increasing opportunity to grow your business.  As more and more customers (and potential customers!) look to the web as a way to broaden their message, increase their own revenue and lower their cost of doing business in general, you have the opportunity to make a real impact to those businesses with the skills you have in building web solutions.

    It is for this reason that Microsoft Canada has created the Make Web, Not War Episode 2009 in-person event.  We know that Microsoft technologies are only part of a larger ecosystem of web platform technologies out there.  What many people may not realize is that Microsoft is playing an ever increasing role in reaching out to web solution providers that aren’t traditionally building web software on Windows.

    Make Web, Not War Episode 2009 is a 2-city tour reaching out to web solution enthusiasts, whether you build your solutions on Windows or not.  The Vancouver stop is on Tuesday, June 2nd and the Toronto stop is on Wednesday, June 10.  For details on the specific agenda items for each of these cities, please visit the website but in a nutshell, we have a number of speakers from both enterprise and open source communities speaking about how Windows is a great platform to build web solutions on.  It will certainly not be the only platform you will likely build web solutions on, but you may very well find that expanding your skillsets to include providing Windows-based web solutions may well be worth your while.

    Value Proposition:

    • Hear from other Web Partners who build on Open Source & Microsoft technologies
    • Network with fellow members of the Web Community
    • Learn about the latest Microsoft technologies & how they work with Open Source
    • Get technical training to build your Web Development portfolio
    • Win prizes & get your Web Warrior DVD of all the latest Microsoft Web Resources

    Some of the topics we’ll be covering between Vancouver and Toronto:

    • Building great WordPress sites with Expression Web (Vancouver)
    • How DigiTweet (an open source WPF-based Twitter client) was built (Toronto)
    • The business opportunity on the web (Vancouver and Toronto)
    • How Windows Hosting can help you build web solutions and your web business (Vancouver and Toronto

    There is still limited seating available for both Vancouver and Toronto, so if you’re interested please register online at Make Web, Not War Episode 2009!

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Opportunity Rings – WIT Event


    image   imageimage

    Continuing connecting with women in  IT, we have a joint event next month with IAMCP's Women in Leadership and Technology and CATA Women in Technology groups. We intend this to be a fun evening of networking, empowerment and finding the courage to follow your own dreams.

    Opportunity Rings: A NovelThe evening will include a light snack and will feature a book reading from Sheryl Steinberg, journalist and author of  the novel "Opportunity Rings", a light-hearted look at finding our strengths through our adversities.

    This is Sheryl's first book and came to life in spite of many people discouraging her from continuing with the project.  We are pleased to be part of promoting a Canadian author with her debut novel.

    In small break-out sessions, we will each have a chance to explore our own personal goals and to discuss and share with others what (if anything) is holding us back from living our personal dream.  You will walk away with at least one idea of how to make your own dream a reality.

    Come and join us!

    When:   Tuesday, June 16th

    Time:     5:30pm to 8:00 pm

    Where:  Microsoft Corporation, 1950 Meadowvale Blvd., Mississauga, ON L5N 8L9 (driving directions)

    Register here.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    [Podcast] Microsoft Designer: Aaron Woo from Windows Mobile Team


    There are about 750 UX designers and researchers 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. During my spare time when visiting Redmond, I try to talk to as many designers as possible from different product teams and share with you their stories.

    image In this episode, I chatted with Aaron Woo, who is a UX Designer at the Windows Mobile Design Team. In our 15 minutes conversation below, we talked about the following topics:

    • What’s your role and responsibilities?
    • Why did you decide to join Microsoft as a UX Designer?
    • What are some design challenges for designing mobile interfaces?
    • What’s it like to work at Microsoft as a designer?
    • What’s the collaboration like within the design team?
    • What contributes to a great designer?

    Aaron’s Bio:

    Aaron Woo is an Interaction Designer on the Windows Mobile design team working on the next version of Windows Mobile. Before coming to Microsoft he graduated from the University of Washington with a BFA in visual communication design. He is currently entering his second year working full-time at Microsoft.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Design Student of the Month - Salpy Elizabeth Kelian


    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 May 2009 is Salpy Elizabeth Kelian! Congratulations!! Let's hear from Salpy.


    Who’s Salpy?

    Hi, I’m Salpy and I live in Toronto. For the past eight months I have attended Sheridan College’s Interactive Multimedia Program (IMM). I decided to go back to school for IMM after working as an instructional designer as I wanted to learn a lot more about programming for interactive multimedia. Though I had taken computer science as an elective during my undergraduate degree, I found IMM a lot more hands on and applicable to online material. Interestingly, this isn’t my first career. I’ve also worked as a researcher, and am a certified secondary school science teacher.

    What cool stuff is Salpy doing?

    The largest project I worked on during this school year was my second term client project. It was a group project in which I was the project manager. Our challenge was to create a Microsoft Surface mock up in Flash for Royal Caribbean International (RCI). It was up to us to research RCI in order to create an application for Microsoft Surface that would attract cruisers to choose RCI over its competition.

    We decided on creating a Virtual Concierge that featured many of the key attributes of Microsoft Surface such as object recognition, multi-user and direct interaction. As it was a Flash mockup, we couldn’t quite emulate the multi-touch aspect. In order to compensate, we still had the scaling and rotational features of each window in place to emulate the feel of a Surface application. For user testing, we had members of the class along with the client try out the application as the work progressed. It was extremely helpful having class members try the application as they had no idea as to what the application was for. Having them use it intuitively and be able to figure out the purpose behind it quickly let us know that our application met its goal of intuitive user interface.

    For an overview of the project please see http://imminfusion.wordpress.com/about/. To see the Flash mockup in action http://www.salpy.ca/content/infusion/index.html.

    What are Salpy’s plans after graduation?

    My goal is to learn a lot more about creating functionality that provides users with a great interactive multimedia experience. As the newest member of Jam3Media (Jam3Media.com), I’ll definitely be meeting my goal of working on highly interactive, multimedia rich sites that feature an excellent user experience.

  • Canadian UX Blog

    [Podcast] Microsoft Designer: Surya Vanka


    There are about 750 UX designers and researchers 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. During my spare time when visiting Redmond, I try to talk to as many designers as possible from different product teams and share with you their stories.

    In this episode, I had the chance to chat with Surya Vanka, who’s the Principle Manager of User Experience at Microsoft. Surya leads the team that promotes UX Design excellence and supports designers’ career growth in the comapny. Therefore, it was very interesting to hear his perspective on Microsoft’s design culture and career opportunities for designers.

    image In our 15 minutes conversation below, I asked Surya the following questions:

    • What is your role and main responsibilities?
    • You are a seasoned UX professional at Microsoft, how was the UX culture changed during the time you've been at MS?
    • What are the different things we do to help designers grow at Microsoft?
    • What are the career models for UX designers and Researchers at Microsoft?
    • What are some exciting opportunities for designers at Microsoft?
    • What makes a successful UX designer working at Microsoft?

    Surya’s Bio

    Surya is Principal Manager of User Experience at Microsoft Corporation, and oversees best practices and engineering standards to create high-quality user experiences for Microsoft’s customers. He has worked a designer and manager on several products during his ten years at Microsoft. His mission is to put the users rather than technology at the center of the development process for all of Microsoft's products. Surya was professor of design at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and was a Fellow at the prestigious Center for Advanced Study. He is the author of two books on design, has lectured on design in over 20 countries, and is widely published. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Design Council UK global design study, Form, ID Magazine, WIRED, Interactions, BBC Radio, National Public Radio, and Channel 15 Television. Surya is a frequent speaker worldwide; his recent speaking engagements include keynote presentation at -- Dutch Design Week (Eindhoven), Barcelona Design Week (Barcelona), Digital Days Conference (Paris), Spletomanija (Ljubljana), Danish Design Center (Copenhagen), Thought Leadership in Management Conference (Mumbai),  Design: The Linking Force (Paris), Creative IT Conference (Twente), Expressions (Moscow), International Design Research Conference (Hong Kong), International Schools of Business Conference (Orlando) and Expressions Design Tour (Oslo). He regularly teaches design, user research and innovation courses in Asia, Europe, North and America.

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  • Canadian UX Blog

    TechDays 2009 Community Team


    As we are planning for TechDays 2009, my colleague Rodney Buike organized a community team, whose mission is to find the best content for TechDays’09. Let’s hear from him…

    Well you might have heard that TechDays is going to roll across Canada in the Fall of 2009 and while we have 6 of the 7 cities locked we are now starting to focus on content.  And there is a lot of content with 5 tracks each with 8 sessions for a total of 40 sessions over the two days.  So where does it all come from and how do we decide what to add to the agenda?

    Well a huge help in the decision making process about what to add to the agenda comes from you, via feedback forms at TechDays, emails to the team, comments and suggestions at user group meetings etc…  All that feedback counts and a prime example of that is a lot of people asked “Where is the SharePoint?” at TechDays 2008 so we’ve added that to our agenda for TechDays 2009. 

    With the tracks locked, the more difficult part is filling those tracks with useful and relevant content.  There is a lot of great content from MMS (Microsoft Management Summit), TechEd, TechReady (our internal training conference) that we leverage but sorting through it all is a challenge and this year we got some help from the community.  We selected five (5) people from across Canada, assigned them as community lead to each of the TechDays tracks and sent them to TechEd to hunt for the best content.  They’ll also go over content from other events such as MMS and recommend content that should be included in each of the tracks.

    Brad Bird is an IT Professional of 12 years experience. Currently working as an independent consultant associated with Infront Consulting. Brad has more than 8 years under his belt specifically in Windows Networking Administration. Among his specialties are: Windows security, forensics, intrusion prevention and detection, Active Directory implementation, System Center Operations Manager and Data Protection Manager implementation and consulting.

    Brad will be looking for content related to security and management of Windows environments including System Center, ForeFront and Windows Server 2008 and R2 including Hyper-V.


    Bill Brockbank works for Navantis Inc. a Canadian MS Gold Partner, as a Solution Architect with a background in business process management in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server and Workflow technologies K2.net, Windows Workflow Foundation and Caparis Workflow. Bill is also a co-founded for the Toronto SharePoint Camp and an active member in the local SharePoint user community.

    Bill will be on the hunt for the best SharePoint, Exchange and Office Communications Server content as well as anything on the Business Productivity Online Suite, SQL 2008 and anything else that helps you implement, manage and customize a collaborative work environment in your organization.


    Daniel Nerenberg is an MCT,MCSE,MCITP, and an independent consultant based in Montreal. Daniel has written and consulted on the topics of Windows Deployment, Application virtualization, and Windows infrastructure. Daniel Also writes regular updates for "The Lazy Admin" Tech guidance website at www.thelazyadmin.com.  Daniel is also a member of the Springboard Technical Experts Panel.

    Daniel has been tasked with finding the best content around deploying and managing Windows operating systems as well as solving application compatibility issues with ACT 5.5, XP Mode, MED-V as well as, securing the desktop.


    Francois Tanguay

    François Tanguay is an agile coach and co-founder of nVentive, a new concept where software development teams leverage coaching and guidance packages to build better software. He presently helps large scale institutions achieve their desired results through VSTS, agile processes and software frameworks. For over 10 years, his modeling skills and inventive ideas have guaranteed interesting discussions.

    With Francois expertise in the development field he was best suited to coming back with the best development related content and has a fairly wide scope of sessions to look at.  From VB6 to .NET migration all the way to Application Lifecycle Management and Visual Studio Team Suite there is a lot of great content that Francois will be bringing back from TechEd.

    Miguel Carrasco

    Miguel Carrasco is Vice President of Technology at Anvil Digital, a software development and marketing company in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  With over 10 years experience in the IT industry, Miguel has been involved in over 100 real world projects ranging from software development, team leadership and organization, creative user experience design, and infrastructure projects.  Miguel has always enjoyed design and the user experience angle of software development. 

    Miguels mission is to locate the best content with regards to developing applications on the Microsoft platform.  Another rather wide ranging scope with content from developing on Windows 7 to Windows Mobile to the web as well as cloud computing with Microsoft Azure.

    Over the next few weeks and months leading up to TechDays Vancouver in September you’ll see blog posts from the community team as to their experiences at TechEd and TechEd Online, why they recommended certain sessions over others and how they helped ensure that TechDays 2009 has the content that ICT professionals in Canada want!

  • Canadian UX Blog

    [Podcast] Microsoft Designer: Allison Gallant from XDR


    Allison1smallSQ (2) There are about 750 UX designers and researchers 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. During my training last week at Redmond, I sat down to chat with Allison Gallant, who is a fresh new designer at Windows Experience Design and Research (XDR) Team.

    In our 10 minutes conversation below, I ask her the following questions:

    • What’s your role and responsibilities?
    • Why did you decide to join Microsoft?
    • What’s your experience as a new designer at Microsoft, especially fresh out of school?
    • What’s it like to work in a large design team such as the Windows Design team?
    • What’s your advice for news grads who are looking for UX design jobs?

    Allison’s Bio:

    Allison is a User Experience Designer in the Windows and Windows Live User Experience Design and Research Team (XDR). Fresh out of school, she has only been working at Microsoft for the past 3 months. Prior to this, she studied at Carnegie Mellon University with an undergraduate degree in Communication Design and Psychology and a Master's degree of Human-Computer Interaction. Although she is quite new to practicing in this field, she is very excited about all the opportunities to improve HCI that working at Microsoft affords her.

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    UX Design and Research Training at Microsoft



    UX community within Microsoft is growing rapidly. Both UX designers and researchers play important roles in product development just as our mission states: “We seek to create products that people will love.” So, what’s the training available for new UX hires that can help them become effective UX professionals working in high-speed product teams along with Program Managers and Software Engineers?

    This week, I had the opportunity to attend a 3-day training course in our headquarter, Redmond, to find out more. This course offers quarterly.  Check out the course description below. From the description, you can see the course focus heavily on career skills: communication, collaboration, and career management skills from perspective of a UX hire. In addition, this is a cross-company training, so participants get to network with peers from other product teams. During the training, I also had the chance to interview two designers about their experience working at Microsoft. I’ll post the podcasts once they are finished. Stay tuned!

    User Experience Design and Research Course

    This course provides a solid foundation for individuals new to user experience (UX) design and research roles at Microsoft. Following the product life cycle, students learn about:

    • Key user experience deliverables
    • How to work on teams effectively (including establishing your role, communicating effectively, and achieving and measuring impact)
    • Career management basics
    • How to participate in and learn from the cross-company UX community

    Students also have the opportunity to interact with guest speakers from the UX community and other disciplines.

    Our class photo:

    Engineering Excellence for User Experience Designers and Researchers - 2009-05 01

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    Try out Win7 RC Today!


    Window 7 Release Candidate is available for public download today!

    Throughout our EnergizeIT tour last month, many of you came to the events and shared your thoughts on the user experience, performance, application capability and security of Windows 7 Beta.  This feedback was extremely valuable because it provided a long-term evaluation of the product in real world environment, which we can’t easily test in lab settings. It’s your collective wisdom that results better design solutions.  Check out the Engineering Window7 blog to learn more things we’ve changed since Win7 Beta and try out Windows 7 RC today!

    Below are some pictures from the last Install Fest we ran in Edmonton last week. Check out how people are enjoying their Win7 experience.

    Painting is more fun with fingers in Windows 7 touch. Painting is more fun with fingers in Windows 7 touch by you.                                    Getting ready to install Windows 7 together. DSCN0486 by you.











    John is entertaining the crowd by asking who has the oldest PC.John Bristowe kicked off Intall Fest at Edmonton. The crowd is ready to go. by you.               A clean install of Win7 on Mac (not with Parallels)A clean install of Windows 7 on Mac (not with Parelell) by you.

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    Mini-Demo: Windows 7 Desktop


    As we are wrapping up all our EnergizeIT events this week, I thought to record my demo on Windows 7 Desktop for those of you who couldn’t make the event and would like to take a look. In the 20 mins demo below, I showed the things I like about Win7 from a everyday user perspective.

    • Personalization: desktop theme, User Access Control, Super Taskbar
    • Productivity: Windows management (Aero Snap, Aero Shake, and Aero Peek), document management, Win+P, default printer management
    • Connection: Search Connector

    If you want to hear about the design story behind, make sure you check out the “Designing Windows 7 Desktop Experience” presentation at MIX. There are other important features in Windows 7 such as HomeGroup and Troubleshooting that are not include in this demo, but they are nicely included in a list of Win7 learning snacks here and here. Enjoy Windows 7 and let us know what do you think!

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    Check Out the New Silverlight Blog!



    Hard to keep up with what’s new in Silverlight and Expression? Check out the Silverlight blog with it’s new design! I like the graphics design on the blog because it gives me a playful feeling. After all, learning new technology should be playful and fun. :-)

    Here’s what you can expect from the blog:

    “The focus for this blog is to provide you the latest news and information regarding everything in the Silverlight ecosystem. The platform, the tools, case studies, news on the latest live customer sites, the designer/developer workflow, in fact over the coming weeks, months and years you can think of this blog as the pulse of the Silverlight team. Find out what’s going on as it’s happens.

    A key goal of this blog is to provide a gateway to help you to not only fully understand the value of the Silverlight platform but also how you maximize your success when you deploy a Silverlight solution and alongside that we also want to make sure you have a great experience along the way. Keeping you aware of the latest up to date information on the platform and tools is one of the ways to enable this and make sure you are on the road to achieve great results with the Silverlight platform.”

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    Expression Resource for Designers


    In the last Silverlight User Group meeting, someone asked me about Expression and Silverlight resources for designers. Here’s a list of resources that my friend Arturo Toledo at Expression marketing team provided.

    expression.microsoft.com – Expression Community Site with all sorts of resources

    microsoft.com/expression – Expression Marketing Site  with good demo videos

    microsoft.com/video – Look under the Expression channel (150+ videos)

    nibblestutorials.net – From Celso Gomes, Designer in the Expression Blend team

    kirupa.com/blend_silverlight – From Kirupa, Expression Blend PM and very popular in the Flash community

    kirupa.com/blend_wpf – From Kirupa, Expression Blend PM and very popular in the Flash community

    blogs.msdn.com/expression – The Expression Blend team blog. Great resources and posts.

    blog.nerdplusart.com - Robby Ingebretsen’s site with blog and lab section.

    SilverZine.com – Alex Knight brings us this great online resource for Designers


  • Canadian UX Blog

    Blog on UX Quotes

    I was looking for a good UX quote yesterday and discovered the “inspireUX” blog which is dedicated for UX Design quotes. The latest quote is from Bill Buxton at CHI. It's a good resource for getting words of wisdom and inspiration regarding design. The author of the blog also created UX quote cards that you can print them out and share around. LukeW also has a collection of Interface Design quote on his blog. If you are looking to explain UX at your company, these quotes may come in really handy. :)  

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    All About Mobile


    As I was doing my daily reading this morning, I came across three presentations related to mobile design. BBC news today also had a article on Mobile Web experience. It seems everyone is excited about the future of mobile devices and what they can do to improve our on-the-go life style. Each of the presentation below offers some valuable information on the subject.

    Designer John Pettengill from Razorfish raises an important point of a “water-down internet” is not the future of mobile web and encourages designers to think about designing unique experiences that can take advantage of a mobile device such as location-aware web applications. 

    My colleague Joey DeVilla posted the below short presentation on the “Five Subtle Interface Changes in Windows Mobile 6.5” on the developer blog. I really enjoyed the 5-min comparison between the  6.1 interface and the 6.5 interface. These changes may be subtle but they improve user’s overall productivity in a big way. Just image how many times you browsing through the different menus on your phone everyday. If every time, the new interface saves you 0.5 second, you probably have time to check couple of more emails or listen to more music everyday.

    Windows Mobile 6.5: Five Subtle Interface Changes

    Professor Pattie Maes’s presentation at this year’s TED was discussed at the IxDA forum yesterday. It’s an inspiration look at what we can do with mobile devices or wearable technologies. I’m fascinated by the idea of accessing information at your finger tip (literally!) and combining natural gesture interaction with smart object recognition. Check out the really cool demos in the presentation!

    Pattie Maes & Pranav Mistry: Unveiling the "Sixth Sense," game-changing wearable tech

  • Canadian UX Blog

    Design Student of the Month – Sara Salevati


    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 April 2009 is Sara Salevati! Congratulations!! Let's hear from Sara.


    Who’s Sara?

    My name is Sara Salevati and I am a designer in my first year Masters of Applied Arts program at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver. Prior to enrolling at Emily Carr, I have completed my Bachelors degree in Interaction Design at Simon Fraser University.

    My interest is interaction and user experience design. My design projects evolve through a process of discovery grounded in research, beginning in qualitative observations and look beyond the surface of human behavior to find deeper clues to help foster the creation of more meaningful experiences. My design practices cover a variety of disciplines such as designing for children, real estate, home, communications and environments.

    What cool stuff is Sara doing?

    One of my research initiatives focuses on design for health and wellness involving the BC Children’s Hospital. I am pursuing research and new ideas for enhancing the healthcare experience for children. The project focuses on the strengthening of the perception of the hospital environment as a more comfortable, safe and fun place for children. Throughout this research project I will investigate and develop strategies to transform a typically unsettling and worrisome hospital experience to one that is more humane and friendly by creating surroundings that calm patients, strengthen their coping resources, and make their entire experience within the hospital more comfortable. I am particularly interested in exploring design interventions that have the potential to trigger an emotional response through sights, sounds, textures and movement.

    I am also researching the integration of space and experience design; using Interaction Design as a tool for understanding and transforming a public place. I am investigating environments that enhance and encourage responsive behavior from their inhabitants. Through the project “enticity” I focus on the idea of introducing a design scheme within a public square that will pioneer an interaction between the passers-by and the occupants of this environment. The challenge is to develop the design in a way that will be valuable to the diverse ethnicity and age groups of the population that inhabit this space. The goal is making this space inviting for people to use in ways other than just a passageway; thus to improve and enhance their experience in the square, having people use this space to stop and relax, share stories, educate, celebrate diversity and strengthen their sense of community.

    What are Sara’s plans after graduation?

    In the future I would like to work in an interdisciplinary design consultancy or a company with a strong focus in user experience design.

    Want to learn more about Sara?

    If you would like to learn more about me or my work please email me at ssalevati@ecuad.ca.

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    Webby Award Powered by Silverlight



    Webby Award is like the Oscar Awards for internet creations. It is the largest, most prestigious international Awards Program for the Web. Yesterday, the People’s Voice Awards aspect of this year’s Webby Awards went live at www.webbyawards.com.  Approximately 150 videos are being streamed in Silverlight over 130 sub-categories under Websites, Mobile, Film and Video, and Interactive Advertising. You can vote your favorites on your website. I found it’s a great source for design  inspiration and discover interesting projects like Nokia viNe.

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