Toolmaking

My carpenter has been putting in a new floor in a room in my house, and I noticed that he makes some of his tools as he goes along.

It’s not that he doesn’t have a hammer and a cordless electric screwdriver. But every once in a while, he needs to move, align or support something in a way that his standard tools do not support. So he immediately builds an ad-hoc tool out of (more...)

Information Evaporation

Have you noticed that knowledge about IT systems seems to evaporate over time? I’ve seen quite a few systems where the only knowledge left was a few pages of yellowed paper in a dusty binder.

Information EvaporationHowever, in some application systems, this does not happen. Why is that? Because the information about what the system does is stored in the code.

Keep system documentation inside your code to prevent information evaporation.

Dutch Cars – Technology That Fits

I was just in Amsterdam last week, and they have the smallest cars I have ever seen:

small_carAt first, it looks counter-intuitive, given that the average Dutchman seems to be several meters tall. But really small cars is actually a very obvious solution for a crowded city like Amsterdam with many canals, narrow roads and very limited parking. These mini-cars are actually parked on the pavement, probably avoiding the 5 Euro per hour parking fee (more...)

Thinking it Through – Nest Smoke Alarm Fail

The company Nest, recently acquired by Google for the usual billions, makes smart thermostats and smoke detectors. Unfortunately, they did not think through the user experience of their Nest smoke and CO detector.

In principle, it’s great that you can turn off your smoke detector by waving your hand at it – like in “oh, cut it out, I just overcooked my microwave popcorn a bit.”

Less great is that if people experience an (more...)

Don’t Automate Half-Way

I watched in horror as the updated application was deployed to the test server. The application was fine, having been subjected to the first test by the developers, but the deployment process was bad. There were various home-built utilities to run with very specific parameters in order to build the deployment package that would then be semi-automatically installed on the test server. It took a new developer a whole day and 20-30 attempts to build (more...)

Come back when we’re open

I subscribe to Microsoft Office 365 and had a payment stuck on an expired credit card. Even though there was a new card, the billing system kept trying the old one.

In a modern cloud service, I would open a service request and expect things to be handled for me. But this is Microsoft. And with the arrogance of the monopolist they used to be, they require you to please show up when they feel (more...)

ADF Book Bundle – get one free!

Packt Publishing has a “buy one, get two” offer that runs until Wednesday. If you don’t have my ADF books, this would be a great opportunity to buy my new book Oracle ADF Enterprise Application Development – Made Simple: Second Edition and get a free copy of Developing Web Applications with Oracle ADF Essentials (or the other way around ;-)

Good User Experience at Low Cost

The business wants IT to deliver a good user experience at low cost. Many people in IT considers these two goals to be conflicting, but they are not. The secret to good user experience at low cost is to use existing best practice, codified in User Experience Design Patterns.
UX patternsSo where do you get these magic, cost-saving design patterns? A good starting point is the very comprehensive library of UX design patterns that Oracle is (more...)

The Future of User Experience

I’m off to the Netherlands for the first and finest Oracle User Experience Event in Europe, arranged by Oracle Platinum Partner AMIS Services BV at their offices in Nieuwegein.

AMIS and Oracle are pulling out all the stops – Oracle is flying in their top UX talent to speak, AMIS has lined up some of their experienced consultants, and they’ve even invited a few outside experts (like me).

I’ll be co-presenting with Killian Evers (more...)

The Cost of Coding

When implementing a standard system, too many organizations allow the programmers to reach for the programming toolbox right away. It might initially seem faster than using the customization features of the application, but over time, the cost of custom coding just keeps adding up.

The Cost of ExtensionsThe most crucial decision when implementing a standard system is how much custom coding you allow. Do not underestimate the cost of coding.

The graphs comes from my weekly “Technology That (more...)

How many stars do you need?

The latest Michelin Guide is out, and Copenhagen added another two stars for a total of 15 of the coveted Michelin Stars across 13 restaurants.

In order to reach the exceptional level of a Michelin-starred restaurant, you need to have an absolute world-class chef. And he (almost invariably a “he”) needs a good team around him.

However, most development team does not need temperamental world-class artists. For independent software vendors, who can sell thousands of (more...)

There are 115,814 in line ahead of you…

It’s the time of the year when the Danish Tax authorities release the annual tax statement, and all 5 million Danes want to see if they have to pay extra or will get a refund.

This used to be a day of crashes, downtime and unavailable systems, followed by ritual gnashing of teeth by politicians and the press. Today, the system simply places people in an orderly queue – I’m number 115,815 and my expected (more...)

Defective Reasoning

Again and again, I’ve seen significant decisions made based on defective reasoning. One of the most common errors is the fallacy of the converse – the belief that if A leads to B, and B happened, then A must have happened.

Defective ReasoningThis fails to take account of all the other things that might have caused B. But many people don’t see this because these other explanations are beyond their cognitive horizon.

I’ll talk more about (more...)

User Experience Event in the Netherlands

Together with other leading experts on User Experience from Oracle like Vice President Jeremy Ashley, Managing Partner Lonneke Dikmans from Vennster and CTO Lucas Jellema from AMIS, I’ll be speaking at the OAUX Expo in the Netherlands on March 18th.

I’m speaking on two topics:

  • How to tailor an application to your user’s needs without coding
  • How to implement a good User Experience in Oracle ADF for the cases where you do need to write (more...)

Where is your IT department?

There are good places and bad places for an IT department in an organization.

Where IT doesn't fitSome organizations tuck the IT department away in some corner of the org chart, but that means that they miss out on IT as an engine of growth.

The above graphic is from my weekly “Technology That Fits” newsletter, where this week’s issue explains more about how IT fits into an organization. You can sign up for the newsletter here.

“I’m returning the BMW”

I just had dinner with a very successful consulting colleague, and he told me he was returning his new BMW because he hated the software. Instead, was getting a Porsche that has physical buttons for the controls instead the touchscreen in the BMW.

He was happy with everything else about the car, but a poorly designed interface killed the deal. Just because you can add fancy features like a touchscreen doesn’t always mean you should. (more...)

The Long Tail of Application Usage

A long tail is a distribution of some data point where a few data point have a high value, but most of the data points have a much lower value. When sorting the data points by value, there will be a large “head” and a long “tail”.

Application usage displays the “long tail” characteristic: A few screens are used much more than others.

Long tail of app usage

If you are re-developing your application, for example moving from Oracle Forms (more...)

ADF Mastery newsletter is out

The February issue of the ADF Mastery newsletter just went out. If you are not on the list, you can sign up here.

This month, I’m covering the following topics:

  • Which version should I use?
  • A learning plan for the ADF basics
  • Best practice for good user experience

The first topic is often a matter of some debate. I recommend using JDeveloper 11.1.1.7 for now – this is the stable version that (more...)

Nine Agrees and a Signature

If you have ever rented a car in the US, you will be familiar with the little LCD device on the counter where you sign your rental contract with a plastic stylus. On the same device, you’re also obliged to acknowledge other things. Since the text is written in 6-point font on a low-quality LCD device, it is for all practical purposes illegible. I assume I’m agreeing to things like that it’s not the rental (more...)

Use vs. Usability

Until this month, I’ve never had to interact directly with the user interface of an SAP system. But now I understand painfully well what users mean when they complain about the usability of enterprise software.

There is an inflection point where usability gets so bad that people will actively try to avoid using the system. You do not want your system to be on the left side of this curve.

Use vs Usability

Measure how much your systems (more...)