Last week, I attended a very interesting conference in San Francisco called Usability Week 2012. The conference was organized by the UX consulting and research firm Nielsen Norman Group and was focused on ways to improve the user experience for websites, intranets, and mobile software apps.
The conference provided an excellent opportunity to meet people involved in application and website design and learn best practices from some of the real experts in the field. One of the areas that I found very interesting was the tutorials on improving the user experience on mobile apps. Part of my job at Colligo is to work on the user interface of our new iPad app, Colligo Briefcase, so it was great to hear from other people working in mobile app development in terms of their experiences in user interface design and usability.
Mobile is still such a new medium that many organizations do not have the experience or knowledge to develop a cohesive mobile strategy. It’s really important for mobile app developers to take into account the mobile users’ needs in order to design apps that are intuitive to use, provide the necessary functionality and make an immediate impact to the user’s day-to-day activities and productivity.
One best practice that I found particularly insightful during a discussion on iPad app design was aptly called “abandon the hope of value-add through weirdness.” The main point being that it’s always better to use consistent interaction techniques that empower users to focus on their content instead of wondering how to get to it.
Day three of the conference focused on SharePoint and was led by John Pruitt, a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft, who is currently working on the next version of SharePoint. John’s presentation provided a lot of good information on how to maximize the SharePoint user experience and gave some details on UX issues they faced in SharePoint 2010 and what’s coming up in the SharePoint 15 release. The information that John presented is very useful for us at Colligo, as our products are designed to integrate SharePoint seamlessly with the applications and devices that people use every day, and to further enhance the overall SharePoint user experience. So, understanding the issues that Microsoft faced in the user interface design of SharePoint and the lessons learned is extremely valuable.
I’d like to offer congratulations to the Nielson Norman Group for putting together an excellent conference. The speakers were top notch and the content presented was relevant, detailed and immediately useful to me. It’s great to see UX being given the importance that it so rightly deserves in application design and development.