Thursday, October 1, 2009

An Idea that we are thinking about

After my post about it, figured I shouldn't leave you hanging.

Now before you read this keep in mind we were looking for new directions, in business, and speaking to customers and clients and of course for Lotusphere. It is not meant to imply anything about anyone at all, but I am strong enough to accept it's criticisms. This was really meant in the spirit of looking forward, although I am sure some will not see it that way, which is why I decided not to pursue it.

So teflon on, here we go.

Designing Application UI's with Women in mind an unsubmitted abstract

When you read items like these and see the percentages:
Women Graduates More Likely to be working

Women Shoot past men

Fewer Women Graduates lose jobs

Blackberry Exec on women in tech

Women Continue to Outnumber men

Lastly, although from 2003, Perceptions of the Design Process: Gendered Aspects

According to one student, “I never knew there was such a difference in technology for men and women.”

And you see and hear it in the work force, it makes you stop and ask, what if we have been or are writing applications for the wrong type of person? What makes it different? Surely everyone involved provided opinions or forethought as to why or how the application would look and feel and act. What does the younger generation prefer? My guess is widgets that auto update themselves and their owners and auto reply via voice for communications all from their cell phone or Star Trek universal translator Communications link. But do they even know themselves?

Some may argue pink Blackberries are cute and color definitely sells some devices just like cars, although I prefer Miami Dolphin colors. However, a device which is more practical for a woman's hand size or to work with their longer nails in mind, or even have a different shape of the ear piece to avoid earrings might bring a whole new crop of business to RIM. Of course to be fair I'd like my devices to be built more rugged for all the times it falls and my kids toss my phone.

But that's hardware, this is about software.

Apple has made their macs UI easy to look at and work with and continue that with the iPhone and peripherals. Software should be simple, easy and do what you expect.

And so when first thinking about this, I wondered what a Lotus Notes client would look like, and act like, if it was not still thought of as "needing" everything from the last 20 years. The 8.5 iNotes client comes close in this aspect although the UI is still rather formal, to me, to look at in what is a very non formal world, from 1992 when I first saw Lotus Notes. Looking back on it now, it was in some ways a more fun client in appearance than it is now or some might say it was a less serious/corporate UI. Don't get me wrong, Outlook is not here or there and the Ribbon just screams at me,"do what we tell you" because that's how i want to customize my experience.

This is where I intended to go, but couldn't put it all in 75 words of an abstract. What is there now that allows one to customize the client or apps in a way that I or you want, not in the way IBM or Microsoft or even Google wants? What if I want an NFL experience to include my mail client? Just doesn't happen right now.

Why can't it be as easy as Zazzle?
Rebrand my UI with corporate colors, graphics, look and feel. Yes, I am aware one can do some of this, but only to a point and definitely not accomplished by your average every day employee.

You don't think David Butler at Coke hasn't pondered this as well in his plans to stabilize the Coke branding and awareness?

Only to be told no, sorry , it can't or doesn't do that. Why? What is wrong with the way we are designing applications?

The bottom line is if people don't like it, they won't use it, unless forced to do so.

When I asked someone if software should be easier to use or harder. Of course easier is the answer. But if I ask should one require a 20 page instruction manual to program a VCR for example, everyone would say no. Yet how many of these VCRs were really so simple that you didn't need the instructions?

Or to put it in modern times, your home theater, how many buttons on your universal massive remote do you not only never use, but have no idea what they are there for or why?

To return to the abstract,
IBM named a top company where women succeed
At IBM, women represent IBM's largest global constituency. Worldwide, women are approximately 28 percent of the total IBM population, 24 percent of management, 19 percent of executive management, two women are senior vice presidents, and three women are members of IBM's Board of Directors.

And from IBM
women now comprise more than 30 percent of the total U.S. employee population.

Indeed last year at Lotusphere there was a Geek 102 session which I attended and blogged about here. Clearly IBM has recognized this need and interest in a growing population of workers that can not be glossed over and in fact is encouraging them from within.

And the Lotusphere team, at least last year I am not privy to LS2010 info of any sort from anywhere, wanted to pursue a line of thinking which I thought was bold, but perhaps unattainable.Still, I am interested to see if Kristin follows through with some of the ideas from last year.

My intention was to pursue last year's information one step further and try to understand the expectations and audiences our customers will have that use their applications, even if they themselves may not envision it. But on a grander scale at Lotusphere 2010 input, so I submitted it as a BoF, in the end, to see what the world is thinking or if it cares at all, maybe UI is out and voice controls are in from now on.

My view was the Notes client is a rather masculine looking and swiss army knife acting client. What if we changed it to be more feminine, whatever that means to each person, and simpler/stripped down yet efficient? What if that affected how we in turn built apps to run in Notes or on the web?

Bad terminology? I agree. But not much came to mind for the comparison. And thus you can see why I ended up not submitting it. Although the few co-presenters I asked about it were interested in where it would lead and the feedback it would garner, if it was a session.

Probably better suited for LoLA, maybe next year, if we get invited, we will bring this up. Or not.

In looking to stay one step ahead, perhaps I took one step backwards, the idea was right but the wording was wrong or maybe it's just too niche or perhaps all the designers out there get it already. Although from apps I saw this week, you could have fooled me.

We now continue with our regularly scheduled blog posts that do not upset anyone except Microsoft and Google folk.

PS- Remember oct 9th is the last chance to submit your abstracts for LS10.