J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

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  • Blog Post: Simplicity is the Ultimate Enabler

    “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein Simplicity is among the ultimate of pursuits.  It’s one of your most efficient and effective tools in your toolbox.  I used simplicity as the basis for my personal results system, Agile Results , and it’s...
  • Blog Post: Dive Right In: The Art of Menu Design in Action

    I’ve updated my menu at Sources of Insight to make it easy to dive into hot topics including Innovation , Leadership , Personal Development , Productivity and more. (here is the full Topics pages.) I made them front and center on the top menu bar: I’ll be testing the effectiveness of this new menu for...
  • Blog Post: How I Learned to Use Scenarios to Evaluate Things

    I first learned to use scenarios to evaluate things when I was working on security guidance for the Microsoft platform.   It was the most obvious way to really get hardcore:  Map out the most important scenarios that people perform, and use those as tests to evaluate. I know “scenario...
  • Blog Post: 10 Tips on Better Design by David Straker

    If you’re into change leadership or persuasion, you might know David Straker from ChangingMinds.org , where he’s put together a massive knowledge base of concepts, techniques, principles, and theories on the art and science of change leadership.   David is also the master mind behind CreatingMinds...
  • Blog Post: Any Activity Can Be Turned into a Game

    Any activity can be turned into a game, if it meets the right criteria.  Wise words from Dan Cook :      “If an activity can be learned…      If the player’s performance can be measured…      If the player can be rewarded or punished in...
  • Blog Post: Test-Driven Product Design

    One way to drive more effective product design is to start with scenarios.  One way to think of this is “Persona-based scenarios with goals.”  You can use the scenarios as test cases.  The scenarios can help you evaluate the design and they can help you evaluate implementation.  Simply...
  • Blog Post: Expert Reviews Using Heuristic Evaluation

    Heuristic evaluation is one of the most common types of expert reviews for Web sites.  It was developed by Jakob Nielsen.  In the book, The Design of Sites, by Douglas K. Van Duyne, James A. Landay, Jason I. Hong, the authors explain heuristic evaluations. What Is a Heuristic Evaluation Van...
  • Blog Post: Paper Prototypes Over Computer-Based Tools

    When it comes to prototyping Web site design, paper prototypes tend to have an advantage.  In the book, The Design of Sites, by Douglas K. Van Duyne, James A. Landay, Jason I. Hong, the authors explain some of the advantages. Iterate and Explore the Design with Paper Prototypes Van Duyne, Landay...
  • Blog Post: Site Maps, Storyboards, and Schematics for Site Design

    When you’re prototyping sites in the early stage, the three main artifacts are: sitemaps, storyboards, and schematics.  In the book, The Design of Sites, by Douglas K. Van Duyne, James A. Landay, and Jason I. Hong describe the three artifacts as follows: Sitemaps - a high-level diagram showing the...
  • Blog Post: Information Architecture, Navigation Design, and Graphic Design

    There’s often confusion over the distinction between information architecture, navigation design, and graphic design.  One of my favorite books that explains what these terms are and the distinctions is the book, The Design of Sites , by Douglas K. Van Duyne, James A. Landay, Jason I. Hong. Van...
  • Blog Post: Success Patterns for Web Sites

    So many Web sites fail at helping users complete tasks or find the information they need in a simple way .   E-Commerce sites like Amazon tend to do a better job than a lot of sites here because they have a tight feedback loop for customers completing their tasks.  Basically, they keep...
  • Blog Post: Application Types (App Types) – The Early Years

    Several years back, I did an exercise in mapping out families of application architectures and application types.  It was an extensive archeological expedition. Key Goals / Outcomes There were several goals of the exercise: Identify canonical application architectures and app types Figure out a...
  • Blog Post: Types of Scenario Tools

    I use scenarios all the time for anything from designing a user experience to evaluating architecture. Scenario is an overloaded term though. There are lots of types of scenario tools. If you know the types of scenario tools, you can use the right one for the job. For example, exception scenarios are...
  • Blog Post: Customer Connected Engineering

    I posted slides on how we do Customer Connected Engineering at patterns & practices to Shaping Software .  Customers Connected Engineering (CCE) is how we engage customers throughout our product development. We formally engage customers during the planning, development, and release of our deliverables...
  • Blog Post: Model-Driven Approaches

    When people ask me my take on model-driven approaches, I think of two ends of the spectrum -- human and the machine. Key Points Model for humans . For humans, I find using a whiteboard (whiteboard modeling) works well -- it's universal. Model for machines . For machines, I find speaking closer...
  • Blog Post: Designing an Authentication and Authorization Strategy

    What are the key steps to designing an effective authentication and authorization strategy? The keys are knowing your user stores, role stores, and who need to access what or perform which operations. In this post, I share the approaches we've used in two of our patterns & practices guides. These...
  • Blog Post: Four Stages of Market Maturity

    You can tell the maturity of a market by the consumer patterns. If you know the life cycle stages of a market you can better anticipate what level of "needs" your product needs to match to be successful. (I always think of needs in stages like Maslow's hierarchy .) The Four Stages of Market Maturity...
  • Blog Post: Kano, Satisfiers, and Dissatisfiers

    If you're looking for yet another way to help you prioritize your backlog or to help you shape your product's design, consider the Kano model . One concept in the Kano model is satisfiers and dissatisfiers. You can think of satisfiers as features you might ask for. You can think of a dissatisfier as...
  • Blog Post: Human Shepherds and the Law of Relevancy

    Yesterday, Ed helped me word a "law" that I use for important decisions and that I see show up quite a bit in a number of places. It's the law of human relevancy. The Law of Relevancy No matter how relevant the information is, it's more relevant with the help of the right people. The Human Shepherd...
  • Blog Post: Scenarios in Practice

    Scenarios are a practical way to organize and focus your product design, development and release. (We use scenario-driven engineering in patterns & practices) Key Benefits Business value . You can use scenarios to evaluate business value. What pain does that scenario address? ... What opportunity...
  • Blog Post: Roles and Goals

    The next time I need to get a set of requirements, I'm simply going to start with roles with goals. I made the mistake of asking for a set of scenarios. What I ended up with is a list of user tasks. Tasks aren't the same as goals. Flying a kite is not the same as having a goal to discover electricity...
  • Blog Post: Requirements Perspectives

    Here's a simple set of perspectives I use for rationalizing requirements: User Business Expert / Technical Industry/Standards Believe it or not, simply identifying these perspective helps a lot. You'd be surprised how many debates happen simply because nobody explicitly identified the...
  • Blog Post: Scenario Frames for Guidance

    When I tackle a problem domain, I first frame out the space. To do this, I list out scenarios and sub-scenarios. I group the scenarios under categories. Sometimes categories come first, sometimes scenarios do. I call the result, a Scenario Frame. I use Scenario Frames to evaluate platform, tools,...
  • Blog Post: Task-Analysis Grid for Communicating Product Design

    How do you communicate design decisions? … Srinath sent me a helpful link on the Task-Analysis Grid . A Task Analysis Grid is effectively columns of scenarios along with sub-tasks to complete the task. Here's the key points: The columns are organized by Before, After, and Future The sub-tasks...
  • Blog Post: Actors, Personas, and Roles

    In user modeling, I usually come across actors, personas, and roles (user roles). I thought it would be helpful to distinguish these so that I can use the right tool for the job, or at least understand their relationships, strengths and weaknesses. Summary Actor Defined - someone or something...
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