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...)

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...)

Dead Giraffe Syndrome

Last Sunday, the Copenhagen Zoo put down one of its giraffes. The did not have room for it and its genes were already well represented in the giraffe gene pool by several siblings. In cooperation with the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), it was decided that the space in the one zoo that could take it would be better used for a giraffe with a different genetic makeup.

I’ve discussed this with otherwise (more...)

The Day We Fight Back

If you are worried about internet surveillance by NSA and others, today is an international action day with demonstrations and events worldwide. See for more information.


The IT museum

My son had finished his web application. He had actually thought about the hardware his users would be using and wanted to test it right. Dad, do we have an old Windows machine? Yes. First generation iPad? Yes. Old iPhone? Yes. I realized that I am unwittingly creating an IT museum in the basement…

What I also realized is how much harder testing has become over the last few years. We used to test our (more...)

The Balance of Business

In every business, there is a balance between business goals and various impediments.

The Balance of Business

You need to make sure that you don’t allow legal, QA, security and other internally-focused concerns tip the scale towards paralysis. There is more in this week’s edition of my newsletter “Technology That Fits” – sign up here.

You don’t know what happens

Suddenly, our offshore colleagues could not access the database. We scrambled to find a solution, and and it soon transpired that the central security function had rolled out out a security policy upgrade the night before. Unfortunately, our offshore colleagues were connected to the network in an uncommon way, so the new security policy cut them off.

You don’t know what will happen when you change a system. Enterprise IT landscapes have reached a complexity (more...)

The death grip of Enterprise vendors

I’ve just been comparing a number of online Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. In this project, I had the opportunity to sign up to the free trial for various services as well as cancelling these demo accounts.

Modern CRM systems like Highrise, CapsuleCRM, and Batchbook all had a button or a link to cancel or delete an account, with appropriate warnings. But the 800-pound gorilla of CRM, Salesforce, did not. In fact, (more...)

Technical Debt

As a system grows, it accumulates technical debt – improvements and cleanup that your really ought to get around to doing. However, no-one ever budgets time for this kind of refactoring and cleanup.

The consequence is that any major change opens a Pandora’s box of interrelated problems. I’m involved in a project where we thought we could simply make a minor change to all 2768 tables, but due various historical design decisions over the year (more...)

January diet for IT departments

January is almost over, which means that most people have already given up their New Year’s resolution to become leaner in 2014.

However, your IT organization should become leaner – in January as in every other month. The application of “Lean” methodologies in IT (Lean IT) is well understood, but most organizations still have a lot of waste to eliminate.

When working as a consultant, I get to experience the provisioning process of (more...)