Monday, June 21, 2010

Dear IBM Support Toolbar UI Team

Are you from the team that designs Partnerworld's puzzling ways.

I have sent numerous messages from your website asking about all of this, and received not even one reply of acknowledgment. Maybe someone will see this and wonder why usage dropped off so much. Or maybe I am wrong. I will gladly post if I am wrong after some discussion with you.

I have been a huge advertiser for the Support Toolbar since finding a few years back and not only have posted about it and its great use and benefits on this blog many times, I have encouraged countless admins, developers, customers and attendees at sessions I have given to use it throughout the world.

Sadly with the most recent changes to it, I am at a loss for words to explain the mess it is now. Perhaps it is only me but when changing the UI you appear to have given little thought to the U(User) in UI or UX(User Experience).

It was so simple, (see this page for the old look)customizable, to the point, searches provided detail about the information found so I never had to guess if I was looking at a redbook fragment or a technote. Plus you could do everything from it, fix central to forums to trial downloads, sandbox/ldd, I mean I literally used it for everything I needed.

But now you have completely lost me. (See this page for the new look and to download it because it still helps, just not as well)

So we went from having extremely detailed options, by pillar, to a button that does nothing more than go to a Pillar's support home page? And they all look alike, you could at least add some color scheme in the Pillar colors, even the usual logo would be nice so at 1st glance one knows where they landed.

Who was this change aimed at? What used to be a simple click or 2 to get to a forum list now causes more clicks. Yes, I know, you have a nice shiny new portal. I don't care. Time is of the essence when I am using this tool and you now cause me to waste more time for every effort, so much so I stopped using the toolbar. And no, I do not use the Support Portal either because Google, believe it or not, finds the details quicker now.

Searches provide perhaps more targeted information, but I have to try to guess what is a technote, an article or a redbook, when before it was customizable.

One used to be able to show or search whatever you wanted. So if I did not want any Rational returns in my search I disabled them, as well as not showing Rational in my toolbar at all.

I love IBM Support, they are great people and always helpful.

This is about a tool, which should be for PEOPLE to use, not a computer or some other marketing effort to get people to use the Support Portal page. The toolbar was the greatest self help piece of software to come out of IBM in a long time, not just Lotus stuff but for everything it covered.

At least the option to upload files from the Toolbar did not go away.

Getting off my soap box now.