UX + Agile

May 13, 2011    Category: Thoughts   No Comments »


Jared Spool published a great article yesterday titled “Essential UX Layers for Agile and Lean Design Teams”.

Jared talks briefly about proliferation of agile approaches in software design and user experience (UX) design and contrasts that to the Big Design Up Front approaches of the past, he then goes further in describing, not only User Stories, but several other layers of UX design and how each layer differs in scope and purpose from the other layers.

we frequently saw the successful teams talking about these other layers all through development. When a team member would produce a deliverable or design sketch that wasn’t quite matching the direction that the other team members imagined, the team would step back and talk about the other layers, trying to figure out where the disconnect came from. Because the team established the layers together, based on research they jointly conducted, they found it easy to collaborate on creating coherent experiences that regularly delighted their users.

It’s a great read, and I highly recommend heading over to the UIE site and reading the full article. You might also consider subscribing to the UIE podcast BrainSparks.


If you’ve never heard Jared Spool speak live, he’s a great presenter and is always thought provoking and memorable, our chief mentor will be presenting at the same conference as Jared in July, The Big (D)esign Conference is July 14th – 16th – Hope to see you there!

iPad + Velcro = good

June 4, 2010    Category: Blog, Thoughts   1 Comment »

I may not own an iPad… but thanks for Giovanni’s “help“, my wife now wants one, and I have to admit, after playing Plants vs Zombies on both an iPad and a PC.. the iPad touch is a much better PvZ experience. This video show some of the other things that you *could* to with an iPad… plus velcro. Enjoy!

iPad + Velcro from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.


Thinking about games…

February 25, 2010    Category: Blog, Thoughts   1 Comment »

Stephen was the first person that really got me to think about game theory as it relates to general application design. Then my friends at Improving Enterprises introduced me to Luke Hohmann and his Innovation Games approach to product management and games like “buy a feature”. I’m certain that their is much more work that needs to be done in this field. Think about it. Game theory flips “traditional” usability on it heels. Every application that I’ve ever worked on “easy to use” was one of the requirements. In games, “too easy” is a negative. Challenging, engaging, rewarding and FUN are the goals the rule the day. This talk by Jesse Schell really drove this point home for me.

Carnegie Mellon University Professor, Jesse Schell, dives into a world of game development which will emerge from the popular “Facebook Games” era.

– Enjoy!


imageI was talking to a friend of mine last month that had just had mid-year reviews at his company. I received his permission to relay some of our conversation and my response to him here.

“So I walk in to sit with my manager for my mid-year review… we’re ranked on 12 different categories on a scale of 1 to 5, there are 9 of us that report to him”

Sounds normal, makes sense.

“First thing my manager says in going over my review is, just so you know, and I’ve told everyone this: I don’t give 5’s”

Wait what?! Um, if that’s the case then why not just have a scale that goes from 1 to 4? Let’s think about that for a minute. No really, let that sink in. Why call it 1 to 5, if it’s really 1 to 4?

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“draft whurley” Featured on Linux.com

September 16, 2009    Category: Blog, Thoughts   2 Comments »

imageLast Thursday I posted my thoughts about Microsoft’s OSS announcements (go digg it: 3 Reasons Microsoft Needs an Open Source Officer), namely the formation of the CodePlex Foundation (awesome) and the departure of Sam Ramji (bummer). My take is that this is a great opportunity for Microsoft to take open source projects at Microsoft up a notch and raise the stakes with a big bold move by bringing in someone like my friend whurley (William Hurley – currently the chief architect of open source strategy at BMC).

This morning I turned on my computer to see that Todd Weiss and the folks at Linux.com had featured this idea on their home page. Go check it out the full article!

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Digg this! Today there were two big announcements from Microsoft regarding their involvement with the Open Source communities. First, was the formation of the CodePlex foundation, an open source foundation for the

Enabling the exchange of code and understanding among software companies and open source communities

Awesome. Great. Fantastic. This is the natural progression of a lot of the open source work that’s been happening at CodePlex, in the ASP.NET MVC stack and a lot of the other OSS projects that Microsoft has been initiating and contributing to lately.

The other announcement was more disappointing, Bill Hilf, the general manager of Windows, announced that Sam Ramji would be leaving his post at Microsoft to be the interim president of the CodePlex Foundation (cool – but why interim?) and then he would be pursuing some other opportunity.

Bill Sam Ramji

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imageFor the last 2 months I’ve working on one of the @improving macs almost exclusively.  While that’s definitely had it’s annoyances, it’s also been very eye opening in a couple of areas.

Last month Microsoft released the Release Canidate1 of Windows 7. For what it’s worth I will say that I like it, more importantly, my wife likes it too. Just like Vista has nicer features than XP (no seriously, I actually like Vista!), there are features in Win7 that I really like over Vista. That being said, after spending two months on a Mac, here are the things that I wish Microsoft would “barrow” from Apple before Windows 7 RTMs.

Apple’s “Show Desktop” Implementation

 I like Win7’s Desktop Peak. But let’s be real. When I want to look at my desktop, it’s probably because I want to do something on my desktop. If I click on the “Show Desktop” button, then everything get minimized and I loose my place when I’m done with the desktop (I have to go restore all of my Windows manually). Macs have this great feature that let’s me, in a single motion, push everything to the side, lets me see and work with my desktop, then with a single click anywhere on the edge of the screen and I’m back to where I was before. Awesome. Dear Microsoft, I know what they’ll say, you stole it. Mac had it first. it doesn’t matter. Go ahead, take it. It’s a better implementation. thx.

image image

Apples “Widget” View

I like Widgets, I like Gadgets. I’m not talking about Apple’s widget “zoom in” and “zoom out” views (although those are nice!), nor am I talking about how Windows 7’s Gadgets can go anywhere on the desktop and are always on your desktop (although I like that too!) I am specifically talking about the scenarios when you have a bunch of windows open and your in the middle of working and you need to take a quick look at your widgets/gadgets. On a mac you set your Expose’s hot spots to bring up your “dashboard”, in Windows 7 you either “peak” at your desktop, or you press the Win+G keys.Here’s the thing, on a mac when you do that, they do a dark overlay on the rest of your desktop. It makes it really easy to to focus in on your widgets and see them quickly. it sounds like a small thing, but you already know how busy your screen can get when you’re working on various projects and then you try to see your gadgets and they just don’t stand out very well.Dear Microsoft, please fade out the background when I push Win+G. kthx.

image  image

Apple’s Colors.

Not all of their colors. I like some of the rich look of Vista and Windows 7, but here’s something that I noticed while working on the mac. The “system tray” (or whatever you call it) is boring. Everything is the same color. Compare that to the spectrum of color that the average Windows user is used to. It’s not that color is bad… but I’m starting to think that business is. Business and clutter compete for your attention, and let’s face it… the reason that it’s in the system tray is because it’s important.. it’s just not that important. I know that I’m focusing on the system tray, but really I’m talking an over all effort to make the things that I want to focus on, visually focusable (is that a word?). Reduce noise, increase signal.

image  image

So what does Windows 7 have going for it?

A lot. But here’s the thing that it soooo much better on Win7. The Taskbar – so much better than the dock or expose for moving between applications – especially tabbed windows. On one hand, I really like the pop and slide of exposes, and I really like the fish eye affect in the mac dock… but here’s the deal, the dock is great for launching applications, but it’s lousy for moving between open applications. The new Win 7 dock does an amazing job of organizing all of your open tabs regardless of which window their in. It really creates a nice, unified way to move between the things that you are working on and to close the things that you don’t care about. I know that it sounds trivial, but think about where you spend your time – it makes a difference.

image image image

What about you? What are you love / hates with Windows 7 or teh mac?

BTW – Travis promised to teach me some mac foo… I’ll have to post again after that!

Microsoft Live ID to Support Open ID

October 27, 2008    Category: Blog, Thoughts   No Comments »


Looks like Microsoft just announced their plans to support OpenID via Live ID at the Microsoft PDC conference. Now, I’m not *cough* saying that I said they should do this way back in March *cough* or anything… but I will say that I still think that this is a great idea! Now that LiveID will support OpenID and since we can already use CardSpace with OpenID… here’s to hoping that the world (wide web) will be a better place without Usernames and Passwords every where I go!

Public Service Announcement: Friends don’t let friends use passwords on the Internet.

For those of you keeping track… that’s 2 world changing ideas down, 7 more to go, but I think that the first 2 are the most important anyway.    😉


What does Agile mean to you?

October 25, 2008    Category: Blog, Thoughts   2 Comments »

I just posted this over at CommunityCast.tv

After the Tulsa TechFest this year we went around and asked several attendees and speakers what Agile Development was to them… then we asked some of the non-attendees that happened to be in the area. Here are some of the responses.


Dear Apple,

image I’m not a fan. Yes, your hardware is awesome. The Mac Book Pro is possibly the best laptop on the market for Vista. I’ll probably buy one for my next machine. You were first with the iPod (congrats with that), but I *love* the UI and innovation lately with my Zune. I still use my iPod Nano, but only with Rock Box (Linux) on it. But, why oh why do you insist on shipping iTunes with everything? (ahem, apple TV, QuickTime, etc..) Plus, I hate QuickTime. It was nice for a season, but to me… it’s like using RealPlayer. (Why would you). Give me Flash video or a WMV any day. And why is it Apple that you hate your developers? No seriously, you seem to despise the people that love your "platform".

That being said, I want to help you. yes, this may seem far-fetched, but I want to give you my sagely wisdom for taking over the world. I find that most things that are wrong with the world… they didn’t take my advice. No, really… you can look at almost anything wrong in the world and just say to your self, "I bet they didn’t ask Caleb before they did that"… and you’d probably be right.


So here you go, take this advice and conquer all… ignore it, and be like those other people that didn’t take my advice. The choice (in my best Morpheus to Neo voice) I leave to you.

Here are the Three Steps to take over the world:

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