Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Developing an intuitive UI for Domino applications

THE DOMINOPOWER INTERVIEW

By David Gewirtz

OK, so we can definitely talk a lot. But when we get an interesting Business Partner into a discussion where key developers are tell us their inside secrets, we figure it's good to listen.

We continue our series of interviews with Lotus Business Partners. This is the third (and final) part of our interview with Marek Szymanski and Scott Tomlinson of DLI.tools. In this third installment, Scott and Marek help us understand how to create an intuitive interface and discuss the process of developing for ND7.

Plus, Marek threatens to kill me.

David:

What makes something an intuitive UI? How do you make sure it's intuitive? What sort of testing did you go through?

Marek:

Well, we think we learn more and more about this everyday. We have created many applications through our consulting expertise over the years and therefore have a good sense of information and interface. In designing DocLogic, we work on designing an intuitive interface through several channels. The most important thing we do is ask people, we ask our clients. Sometimes you have to be careful about that because people can have some weird ideas about how something should function. [laughing]

So, we inject our feedback with our own judgment. When we put a feature together, we try to take a step back and try it out. Then you have to be honest with yourself. Was that easy? Did that make sense? It's sometimes difficult to gauge and there are always heated debates going on behind our doors.

We also try to employ functionality and presentation according to what people are familiar with. A lot of the context and feeling of DocLogic is similar to the Lotus Notes client, where a document is a container with rich information and files.

Our target audience consists of companies that use Notes and Domino, so they should be familiar right away. Other document management systems store things like files and documents separately. When you start to get outside of what your users are familiar with, it implies more training and change to the way that people are used to working.

Scott:

DocLogic is continually tested on a daily basis because we eat our own cooking. We use DocLogic to handle all our "document and content" related processes, from partner claims to product development projects.