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Re: [agile-usability] On the Communication between Planner, Designer, and Developer

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  • Ron Jeffries
    ... As a frill on what Larry says here, I d advise the use of style sheets and configuration tables and compiler constants and all the techniques I know to
    Message 1 of 26 , May 8, 2006
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      On Monday, May 8, 2006, at 4:34:59 PM, Larry Constantine wrote:

      > (2) Definitely do a style guide, as Ron suggests, but only in provisional
      > form at the start of the project. Treat it as evolving through iterative
      > refinement just like any other project artifact. You will only learn what
      > the standards should have been as the design evolves and expands.

      As a frill on what Larry says here, I'd advise the use of style
      sheets and configuration tables and compiler constants and all the
      techniques I know to allow as many as possible of these things to
      change.

      Who knows ... STANDARD_BUTTON_WIDTH, BIG_BUTTON_HEIGHT, ALERT_COLOR,
      ... anything to abstract out the ideas that the designers are
      developing, so that when they decide that pink letters on an orange
      background aren't so good after all, we can just tweak a couple
      values and rebuild.

      Ron Jeffries
      www.XProgramming.com
      It's easier to act your way into a new way of thinking
      than to think your way into a new way of acting. --Millard Fuller
    • Larry Constantine
      These are a couple of general questions for the group about e-etiquette prompted not by any one posting but by a number of them over recent months. What do you
      Message 2 of 26 , May 8, 2006
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        These are a couple of general questions for the group about e-etiquette
        prompted not by any one posting but by a number of them over recent months.

        What do you all think of using postings on the group to drive traffic to a
        separate blog as opposed to saying what you have to say here?

        What do you think about promoting product sales via postings?

        --Larry Constantine, IDSA
      • Ron Jeffries
        ... I prefer to read conversation here and am perfectly happy to read articles and blogs if they are germane. (I am also inclined to point to articles on my
        Message 3 of 26 , May 8, 2006
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          On Monday, May 8, 2006, at 4:34:59 PM, Larry Constantine wrote:

          > What do you all think of using postings on the group to drive traffic to a
          > separate blog as opposed to saying what you have to say here?

          I prefer to read conversation here and am perfectly happy to read
          articles and blogs if they are germane. (I am also inclined to point
          to articles on my own site if they're germane.)

          > What do you think about promoting product sales via postings?

          If someone occasionally posts something salesy, but is generally a
          good contributor, I don't mind it. When someone comes on with
          nothing to offer but sales, I dislike it intensely.

          <smile>
          Contact me via email for agile consulting, and don't forget to read
          my recently unearthed article: We Tried Baseball and It Didn't Work,
          at http://www.xprogramming.com/xpmag/jatBaseball.htm .
          </smile>

          Ron Jeffries
          www.XProgramming.com
          Reason is and ought only to be the slave of the passions. -- David Hume
        • Phlip
          ... Dude, I laughed so hard I wet my blog. -- Phlip http://www.greencheese.us/ZeekLand
          Message 4 of 26 , May 8, 2006
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            Ron Jeffries wrote:

            > ...read
            > my recently unearthed article: We Tried Baseball and It Didn't Work,
            > at http://www.xprogramming.com/xpmag/jatBaseball.htm .

            Dude, I laughed so hard I wet my blog.

            --
            Phlip
            http://www.greencheese.us/ZeekLand <-- NOT a blog!!
          • Ron Jeffries
            ... Thanks! I take that as high praise coming from you. Ron Jeffries www.XProgramming.com You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not
            Message 5 of 26 , May 8, 2006
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              On Monday, May 8, 2006, at 5:02:31 PM, Phlip wrote:

              >> ...read
              >> my recently unearthed article: We Tried Baseball and It Didn't Work,
              >> at http://www.xprogramming.com/xpmag/jatBaseball.htm .

              > Dude, I laughed so hard I wet my blog.

              Thanks! I take that as high praise coming from you.

              Ron Jeffries
              www.XProgramming.com
              You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure,
              what you do not understand. --Leonardo da Vinci
            • Jared M. Spool
              ... This sounds to me more like a design pattern library than a style guide. It s more than a semantic issue, in that a pattern library is easily developed as
              Message 6 of 26 , May 8, 2006
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                At 04:34 PM 5/8/2006, Larry Constantine wrote:
                >(2) Definitely do a style guide, as Ron suggests, but only in provisional
                >form at the start of the project. Treat it as evolving through iterative
                >refinement just like any other project artifact. You will only learn what
                >the standards should have been as the design evolves and expands.

                This sounds to me more like a design pattern library than a style guide.
                It's more than a semantic issue, in that a pattern library is easily
                developed as a group activity (aka your swat team) and more extensible
                across multiple projects.

                More thoughts on Patterns for those who are interested:
                http://www.uie.com/events/roadshow/articles/design_patterns/
                http://www.uie.com/articles/elements_of_a_design_pattern/

                Jared


                Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
                510 Turnpike Street, Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
                978 327-5561 jspool@... http://www.uie.com
                Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks
              • Sue Heim
                My own personal opinion is that I would much prefer to read posts here, and not read posts about blogs. And again, my own opinion is product postings are fine
                Message 7 of 26 , May 8, 2006
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                  My own personal opinion  is that I would much prefer to read posts here, and not read posts about blogs. And again, my own opinion is product postings are fine as long as they are a) identified as such, and b) the poster actually contributes more than just posts about those products. There are a couple of groups to which I belong and one of them is quite strict about requiring vendors to identify themselves as such. And there's another one that requires folks to preface "ANN" on the subject line, but that same group also is starting to unsub those folks who post only announcements.

                   

                  My two cents. Of course, traffic here is usually lighter than any of those groups I mentioned! :)

                   

                  I would just hate to see this place turn into a big giant sales pitch (be it for product or a personal blog). ;)

                   

                  ...sue


                  > To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                  > From: lconstantine@...
                  > Date: Mon, 8 May 2006 15:34:59 -0500
                  > Subject: [agile-usability] Group Protocol
                  >
                  > These are a couple of general questions for the group about e-etiquette
                  > prompted not by any one posting but by a number of them over recent months.
                  >
                  > What do you all think of using postings on the group to drive traffic to a
                  > separate blog as opposed to saying what you have to say here?
                  >
                  > What do you think about promoting product sales via postings?

                • June Kim
                  On 5/9/06, Larry Constantine wrote: [snip] ... Are you recommending a developer with each design team ? (I didn t quite get it) ...
                  Message 8 of 26 , May 8, 2006
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                    On 5/9/06, Larry Constantine <lconstantine@...> wrote:
                    [snip]
                    >A designer with each
                    > development team works, so does a developer with each design team.

                    Are you recommending "a developer with each design team"? (I didn't
                    quite get it)

                    > Do use
                    > whiteboards to explore and work out designs, but digitize (either with
                    > capture bars like Mimio (mimio.com)or with digital camera and
                    > WhiteboardPhoto for archiving, rapid distribution.
                    >
                    > (1) Get the UI architecture thoroughly thought out first. Try to work out a
                    > complete navigation map and have wireframe schematics, templates, or
                    > abstract prototypes for main page/screen types. Treat all of these as
                    > provisional and subject to iterative refinement.

                    If we have now UI architecture laid out in our hands, what can we do?
                    Can we tell any one party to start to work on their role from the UI
                    architecture? Suppose it's the designer. Having the UI architecture,
                    what can he/she actually begin to do? (Usually they are trained to
                    respond only to very detailed visual guides, like "help"s -- and when
                    they see sparse or lo-fi guides instead, they don't start to work on
                    it and wait until they think the design is got fixed)

                    I think what they need is some sort of funnel-down guides that can
                    make them start early and concurrently.

                    BTW, I had an experience of designing a web service with innovative
                    UIs, for example like Magic Lens and Fish Eye style. Fortunately, we
                    worked as a team in a war-room. We were talking about the surface UI
                    from the beginning(our focus was more on the specific UIs) and I think
                    it didn't have a great positive influence on our developers velocity
                    and the code quality.

                    >
                    > (2) Definitely do a style guide, as Ron suggests, but only in provisional
                    > form at the start of the project. Treat it as evolving through iterative
                    > refinement just like any other project artifact. You will only learn what
                    > the standards should have been as the design evolves and expands.

                    Hm... I don't think I got it. Any examples?

                    >
                    > (3) Regardless of official structure, act *as if* all the participants were
                    > part of a common team or team of teams. Consider guerilla tactics that
                    > promote that sense, such as encouraging direct communication across
                    > divisional and hierarchical lines, inviting broad participation in design
                    > reviews, "broadcasting" key milestones or decisions, etc.

                    Yes. I wholeheartedly agree with you and I am trying to achieve that
                    at this time but still finding it quite challenging. For example, in
                    one organization I'm consulting, all the designers in the company are
                    in one department -- let's call it Designers Dept. Each one serves
                    several projects and teams. On the other hand, developers have their
                    own team grouped by the kind of web service they support, and planners
                    also have their own team each team serving a few web services. So
                    there isn't always a one-to-one mapping between developer teams and
                    planner teams, but some developer team and planner team stick together
                    for quite a long time(since their main focus has been a few big
                    services for a long time) and they collaborate better.

                    It's very hard to change their behavior and attitude, when they have
                    never experienced any kind of close collaboration.

                    >
                    > (4) On one project of this sort, we organized a design "S.W.A.T. team" that
                    > had ownership of the evolving UI guide, took on the toughest design problems
                    > or those with the broadest impact on the results, and served as rapid
                    > deployment consultants to other designers and developers. You want your 3-5
                    > best, most adaptable, designers on such a team.
                    >

                    As a separate team and serving other "planner and developer" teams?
                    Wouldn't it slow down the whole process? I'm a bit worried.


                    Thank you.
                  • Sachin Palewar
                    I second Ron on that. Regards, Sachin Palewar Palewar Techno Solutions Pocket PC & Mobile Software Development Nagpur, India
                    Message 9 of 26 , May 8, 2006
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                      Message
                      I second Ron on that.
                       
                      Regards,

                      Sachin Palewar

                      Palewar Techno Solutions
                      Pocket PC & Mobile Software Development
                      Nagpur, India

                      http://www.palewar.com
                      -----Original Message-----
                      From: Ron Jeffries [mailto:ronjeffries@...]
                      Sent: Tuesday, May 09, 2006 2:14 AM
                      To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                      Subject: Re: [agile-usability] Group Protocol

                      On Monday, May 8, 2006, at 4:34:59 PM, Larry Constantine wrote:

                      > What do you all think of using postings on the group to drive traffic to a
                      > separate blog as opposed to saying what you have to say here?

                      I prefer to read conversation here and am perfectly happy to read
                      articles and blogs if they are germane. (I am also inclined to point
                      to articles on my own site if they're germane.)

                      > What do you think about promoting product sales via postings?

                      If someone occasionally posts something salesy, but is generally a
                      good contributor, I don't mind it. When someone comes on with
                      nothing to offer but sales, I dislike it intensely.

                      <smile>
                      Contact me via email for agile consulting, and don't forget to read
                      my recently unearthed article: We Tried Baseball and It Didn't Work,
                      at http://www.xprogramming.com/xpmag/jatBaseball.htm .
                      </smile>

                      Ron Jeffries
                      www.XProgramming.com
                      Reason is and ought only to be the slave of the passions.  -- David Hume

                    • Tim Wright
                      As long as it s postings over recent months not recent hours that are problematic then I m happy - a few a month is fine, a few a day is not. As to posting
                      Message 10 of 26 , May 8, 2006
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                        As long as it's postings over 'recent months' not 'recent hours' that are problematic then I'm happy - a few a month is fine, a few a day is not.

                        As to posting blog entries, I'm not really a big fan. I kinda feel that mailing lists are to gather advise and ask questions. Blogs are to share experiences. However, on saying that, it doesn't really matter. The quantity on this list is small enough to make little difference and the blog entries tend to be good.

                        I did like the baseball game. The refactored game actually seemed like fun!

                        About job advertisements: I like them as it makes the skills discussed on this list seem market-worthy.

                        About sales pitches: the chances are you're actually advertising to your competitors.

                        Tim

                        On 5/9/06, Larry Constantine <lconstantine@...> wrote:
                        These are a couple of general questions for the group about e-etiquette
                        prompted not by any one posting but by a number of them over recent months.

                        What do you all think of using postings on the group to drive traffic to a
                        separate blog as opposed to saying what you have to say here?

                        What do you think about promoting product sales via postings?

                        --Larry Constantine, IDSA






                        --
                        Kei te kōrero tiki au. Kei te kōrero tiki koe. Ka kōrero tiki tāua. Kōrero ai tiki tāua.
                      • William Pietri
                        ... It depends on how spammy they feel to me. If there s a discussion going and somebody refers to a germane post they made last month along with some other
                        Message 11 of 26 , May 9, 2006
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                          Larry Constantine wrote:
                          > What do you all think of using postings on the group to drive traffic to a
                          > separate blog as opposed to saying what you have to say here?
                          >

                          It depends on how spammy they feel to me. If there's a discussion going
                          and somebody refers to a germane post they made last month along with
                          some other content, I'm happy about that. Announcements of blog posts
                          generally leave me cold, especially if they are just a link with teaser
                          text.

                          > What do you think about promoting product sales via postings?
                          >

                          I think a couple of lines in SIGs are fine. I'm also very happy with
                          people talking about products that they like, even when they get
                          evangelical about it. Promoting one's own products strikes me as
                          frequently dubious, and always so when it's from somebody who doesn't
                          actively participate in the list.


                          William
                        • Adrian Howard
                          On 8 May 2006, at 21:25, Ron Jeffries wrote: [snip] ... [snip] Seconded. Getting the UI abstractions into the code makes things much easier all round. As an
                          Message 12 of 26 , May 10, 2006
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                            On 8 May 2006, at 21:25, Ron Jeffries wrote:
                            [snip]
                            > Who knows ... STANDARD_BUTTON_WIDTH, BIG_BUTTON_HEIGHT, ALERT_COLOR,
                            > ... anything to abstract out the ideas that the designers are
                            > developing, so that when they decide that pink letters on an orange
                            > background aren't so good after all, we can just tweak a couple
                            > values and rebuild.
                            [snip]

                            Seconded. Getting the UI abstractions into the code makes things much
                            easier all round.

                            As an aside this is one of the problems with people still working in
                            a "throw the UI specs over the wall to the developer" mode. When
                            developers are presented with a bunch of user journeys, wireframes,
                            etc. without the UX person around to explain /why/ things have been
                            done in such-and-such a way you don't notice the abstractions, so
                            they don't make it into the code, so they get mucked about when the
                            inevitable changes arrive....

                            Cheers,

                            Adrian
                          • Jeff Patton
                            June, Sorry I didn t get back to you right away. I m sure you understand how non-trivial the situation you describe is – and
                            Message 13 of 26 , May 10, 2006
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                              <warning - long response>
                              June,

                              Sorry I didn't get back to you right away. I'm sure you understand
                              how non-trivial the situation you describe is – and potentially how
                              risky that makes giving advice. But, although I've hesitated, I won't
                              let it stop me.

                              The pain point or problem I hear you wanting to solve is the large
                              amount of time planners spend crafting this communication artefact to
                              designers and developers – so I'll talk about that first. Of course
                              if you take a hard agile line with all this, you'd do everything you
                              could to avoid the written communication. You do that by seating the
                              teams close together, by encouraging them to talk over a whiteboard
                              whenever possible.

                              But, this doesn't solve everything.

                              The planner seems to be performing the role of an interaction designer
                              [they invent what needs to be built and document the user interaction
                              and what I think is the visual design]. Concurrently they perform the
                              role of project manager. Sounds tough. Sounds like a lot of
                              responsibility for one person. In support of the interaction design
                              work, they'll still need to work through somehow what the application
                              should look and behave like. They'll need to model with cards, draw
                              pictures on whiteboards, build and test paper prototypes. So, they
                              still need to build something to contain all their own thoughts – even
                              if it isn't powerpoint. That'll take time.

                              And, if we encourage the planner to talk more over the whiteboard, and
                              over their paper prototypes with the designers and developers, that's
                              going to take lots of time.

                              So, at the end of the day, we won't give the planners back any more
                              time – they'll be spending as much or more, but we may reduce some
                              significant risks of miscommunication caused by reliance on paper
                              documents. In addition, I think people are ultimately happier when
                              they can talk… but does this organization place value on "happy"? Do
                              they perceive any pain caused by miscommunication?

                              As far as a documentation mechanism goes, right now, I believe
                              powerpoint works as well as anything. These days I spend more of my
                              life than I want to admit building powerpoint storyboards. Part of
                              the reason I prefer it over potentially other tools is that I can
                              control the fidelity a little bit. By that I mean I can make very
                              realistic UI when I think the situation demands it, or I can paste in
                              and manipulate whiteboard photos when they're sufficient – and lots of
                              points in between. The point is I control the fidelity. But, it
                              doesn't seem like your planners are working with that "fidelity knob".
                              Could they be? Would it save them time?

                              What does come to mind is that the scale of the operation you describe
                              indicates that building a healthy _community of interest_ is in order.
                              By that I mean planners need to start regular collaboration with each
                              other about how they do their job. They need to share techniques,
                              document and share interaction patterns, basically have the
                              opportunity to collaborate with each other about how to get better at
                              what they do. Does this sort of opportunity for planner collaboration
                              exist in the organization? If not, could it?

                              Seems like planners could also work in small teams – dividing up work
                              and building these prototypes faster. I've seen many organizations
                              that have a design team that feeds and collaborates with development.
                              Whether they believe they are or not, the BA teams we use at
                              ThoughtWorks on projects function as a design team. They collaborate
                              and take collective responsibility for the functionality of the
                              software, the artefacts they hand to development, and the day to day
                              communication with development. Could planners work in 2-3 person
                              teams? Would that help them move faster?

                              Now, the things that make me twitchy – problems I sense but problems
                              you didn't express:

                              How does the planner determine what was needed? How does he research
                              and understand his users and their needs? How does he validate his
                              solution is indeed a good one? Seems his life is so dominated by
                              building powerpoints to keep the project running that he may have
                              little time to determine if the resulting product is going to be a
                              good one. That scares me. Issues there would manifest themselves as
                              projects being completed on time, but end users and customers not
                              liking what was built. Does that happen?

                              I'm twitchy about how little the planners seem to collaborate with
                              anyone on what they doe – end users, developers, each other. I'm
                              always suspicious of solutions arrived at by individuals working in
                              isolation with little context on which to solve their problems.

                              What do you mean by designers? [or did you say and I missed it?]
                              Are they designing the inside of the system – the architecture-y stuff
                              – or the outside if the system – the visual and interaction design?
                              My guess is the former – not the latter. If that's the case, based on
                              what I'm hearing as constrained collaboration between them and
                              developers, I suspect problems come out of that too.

                              Finally, the last piece of advice I could give is think about how
                              things would look if they were better. What would things look like if
                              problems were solved? Then given that mental picture of the solution,
                              what's the first tangible thing you can do/change you can make to move
                              towards it?

                              In the future do planners simply spend less time doing powerpoint work
                              because they have a cool prototyping tool? This brings me back to one
                              of the first things I asked – what really is the problem here? Is
                              this really about saving the labour costs/time spent by the planners?
                              No offence to the planners – but who cares? If you saved them 25% of
                              their time, would that be significant to the company you work for?
                              Might the company them be tempted to fire 25% of the planners? The
                              net result being that their life really isn't any better. Look deeper
                              to what the problem really is here. Does it take to long to build
                              product? Is the product quality low? Is it too expense to build
                              products vs. your competition – do you need to reduce costs overall?
                              Where is the pain coming from?

                              Hope that give you some more things to think about – and potentially
                              some more questions to ask.

                              Thanks for posting this here to make the discussion public.

                              -Jeff

                              --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "June Kim" <juneaftn@...> wrote:
                              >
                              > Following is email I sent to Jeff but I suppose it didn't make it to
                              > him. I think it would be better to post it to a larger audience and
                              > ask for help.
                              >
                              > ---------- Forwarded message ----------
                              > From: June Kim
                              > Date: Apr 19, 2006 5:08 PM
                              > Subject: On the Communication between Planner, Designer, and Developer
                              > [snip]
                              >
                              > BTW, I just want to ask some comments from you. I would greatly
                              > appreciate your opinion or any reference you could afford me.
                              >
                              > As I told you I am coaching a few major web portal companies in Korea.
                              > They have half a thousand developers and a few hundreds of designers
                              > and planners. Oh, the job title, "planner". I think you are
                              > unfamiliar with that job title. In Korea, we call those people who
                              invent
                              > and plan the web service(product manager?) as planners. They invent
                              > the concepts and ideas and then draw storyboards and sometimes
                              > organize the team and arrange the schedule, being the mediator between
                              > designers and developers.
                              ...
                            • Jeff Patton
                              ... Ditto! There s been lots of talk about how you can t refactor UI. By that developers mean that refactoring UI code is hard. Well I suppose it is - but
                              Message 14 of 26 , May 10, 2006
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                                --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Adrian Howard <adrianh@...> wrote:
                                >
                                >
                                > On 8 May 2006, at 21:25, Ron Jeffries wrote:
                                > [snip]
                                > > Who knows ... STANDARD_BUTTON_WIDTH, BIG_BUTTON_HEIGHT, ALERT_COLOR,
                                > > ... anything to abstract out the ideas that the designers are
                                > > developing, so that when they decide that pink letters on an orange
                                > > background aren't so good after all, we can just tweak a couple
                                > > values and rebuild.
                                > [snip]
                                >
                                > Seconded. Getting the UI abstractions into the code makes things much
                                > easier all round.

                                Ditto!

                                There's been lots of talk about how you can't refactor UI. By that
                                developers mean that refactoring UI code is hard. Well I suppose it
                                is - but it's extra hard to refactor code when the concepts in the UI
                                aren't reflected in the code. I've found that when the UI concepts
                                arrive in the code as first class objects, changing details about
                                those concepts is easier. By that I mean changing/refactoring the UI.

                                Throwing anything over a wall injects risk into a project. UI to
                                developers is just another wall.

                                [Live from London]
                                -Jeff
                              • Jared M. Spool
                                ... Dare I make the Patterns war cry again? Jared Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering 510 Turnpike Street, Suite 102, North
                                Message 15 of 26 , May 10, 2006
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                                  >On 8 May 2006, at 21:25, Ron Jeffries wrote:
                                  >[snip]
                                  > > Who knows ... STANDARD_BUTTON_WIDTH, BIG_BUTTON_HEIGHT, ALERT_COLOR,
                                  > > ... anything to abstract out the ideas that the designers are
                                  > > developing, so that when they decide that pink letters on an orange
                                  > > background aren't so good after all, we can just tweak a couple
                                  > > values and rebuild.
                                  >[snip]

                                  At 08:03 AM 5/10/2006, Adrian Howard wrote:

                                  >Seconded. Getting the UI abstractions into the code makes things much
                                  >easier all round.
                                  >
                                  >As an aside this is one of the problems with people still working in
                                  >a "throw the UI specs over the wall to the developer" mode. When
                                  >developers are presented with a bunch of user journeys, wireframes,
                                  >etc. without the UX person around to explain /why/ things have been
                                  >done in such-and-such a way you don't notice the abstractions, so
                                  >they don't make it into the code, so they get mucked about when the
                                  >inevitable changes arrive....

                                  Dare I make the "Patterns" war cry again?

                                  Jared


                                  Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
                                  510 Turnpike Street, Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
                                  978 327-5561 jspool@... http://www.uie.com
                                  Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks
                                • Adrian Howard
                                  On 10 May 2006, at 14:05, Jeff Patton wrote: [snip] ... [snip] I m pleasantly surprised how many XP coding practices fall nicely into place when you take the
                                  Message 16 of 26 , May 10, 2006
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                                    On 10 May 2006, at 14:05, Jeff Patton wrote:
                                    [snip]
                                    > There's been lots of talk about how you can't refactor UI. By that
                                    > developers mean that refactoring UI code is hard. Well I suppose it
                                    > is - but it's extra hard to refactor code when the concepts in the UI
                                    > aren't reflected in the code. I've found that when the UI concepts
                                    > arrive in the code as first class objects, changing details about
                                    > those concepts is easier. By that I mean changing/refactoring the UI.
                                    [snip]

                                    I'm pleasantly surprised how many XP "coding" practices fall nicely
                                    into place when you take the UI into account. I rambled about this a
                                    little last year (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/agile-usability/
                                    message/1373).

                                    Adrian
                                  • Adrian Howard
                                    On 10 May 2006, at 14:35, Jared M. Spool wrote: [snip] ... [snip] ... I m thinking more of application-specific UI abstractions - and they don t seem to fit
                                    Message 17 of 26 , May 10, 2006
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                                      On 10 May 2006, at 14:35, Jared M. Spool wrote:
                                      [snip]
                                      > At 08:03 AM 5/10/2006, Adrian Howard wrote:
                                      [snip]
                                      >> As an aside this is one of the problems with people still working in
                                      >> a "throw the UI specs over the wall to the developer" mode. When
                                      >> developers are presented with a bunch of user journeys, wireframes,
                                      >> etc. without the UX person around to explain /why/ things have been
                                      >> done in such-and-such a way you don't notice the abstractions, so
                                      >> they don't make it into the code, so they get mucked about when the
                                      >> inevitable changes arrive....
                                      >
                                      > Dare I make the "Patterns" war cry again?

                                      I'm thinking more of application-specific UI abstractions - and they
                                      don't seem to fit under the pattern banner to me.... am I wrong?

                                      Adrian
                                    • Jared M. Spool
                                      ... I think UI patterns could work in an application-specific manner. They take the abstractions you are talking about and add other descriptive components,
                                      Message 18 of 26 , May 10, 2006
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                                        At 09:59 AM 5/10/2006, Adrian Howard wrote:

                                        > > At 08:03 AM 5/10/2006, Adrian Howard wrote:
                                        >[snip]
                                        > >> As an aside this is one of the problems with people still working in
                                        > >> a "throw the UI specs over the wall to the developer" mode. When
                                        > >> developers are presented with a bunch of user journeys, wireframes,
                                        > >> etc. without the UX person around to explain /why/ things have been
                                        > >> done in such-and-such a way you don't notice the abstractions, so
                                        > >> they don't make it into the code, so they get mucked about when the
                                        > >> inevitable changes arrive....
                                        > >
                                        >On 10 May 2006, at 14:35, Jared M. Spool wrote:
                                        > > Dare I make the "Patterns" war cry again?
                                        >
                                        >I'm thinking more of application-specific UI abstractions - and they
                                        >don't seem to fit under the pattern banner to me.... am I wrong?

                                        I think UI patterns could work in an application-specific manner. They take
                                        the abstractions you are talking about and add other descriptive
                                        components, such as the context of use, history, and other required patterns.

                                        I'm thinking by making your patterns align with the UI abstractions, you
                                        get more mileage for not much more effort.

                                        Jared


                                        Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
                                        510 Turnpike Street, Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
                                        978 327-5561 jspool@... http://www.uie.com
                                        Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks
                                      • Adrian Howard
                                        ... [snip] ... Oh yes, I quite agree. It s more a question of nomenclature. Once you add a bunch of application specific detail to them is it really right to
                                        Message 19 of 26 , May 11, 2006
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                                          On 10 May 2006, at 17:16, Jared M. Spool wrote:

                                          > At 09:59 AM 5/10/2006, Adrian Howard wrote:
                                          [snip]
                                          >> I'm thinking more of application-specific UI abstractions - and they
                                          >> don't seem to fit under the pattern banner to me.... am I wrong?
                                          >
                                          > I think UI patterns could work in an application-specific manner.
                                          > They take
                                          > the abstractions you are talking about and add other descriptive
                                          > components, such as the context of use, history, and other required
                                          > patterns.
                                          >
                                          > I'm thinking by making your patterns align with the UI
                                          > abstractions, you
                                          > get more mileage for not much more effort.

                                          Oh yes, I quite agree. It's more a question of nomenclature. Once you
                                          add a bunch of application specific detail to them is it really right
                                          to carry on calling them patterns? Haven't they then lost the generic
                                          nature that the name implies?

                                          Adrian
                                        • June Kim
                                          ... That s OK. I really appreciate your long and detailed response. ... They initially devise and propose the core idea of the service. They do strategic
                                          Message 20 of 26 , May 11, 2006
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                                            2006/5/10, Jeff Patton <jpatton@...>:
                                            > <warning - long response>
                                            > June,
                                            >
                                            > Sorry I didn't get back to you right away. I'm sure you understand

                                            That's OK. I really appreciate your long and detailed response.

                                            > how non-trivial the situation you describe is – and potentially how
                                            > risky that makes giving advice. But, although I've hesitated, I won't
                                            > let it stop me.
                                            >
                                            > The pain point or problem I hear you wanting to solve is the large
                                            > amount of time planners spend crafting this communication artefact to
                                            > designers and developers – so I'll talk about that first. Of course
                                            > if you take a hard agile line with all this, you'd do everything you
                                            > could to avoid the written communication. You do that by seating the
                                            > teams close together, by encouraging them to talk over a whiteboard
                                            > whenever possible.
                                            >
                                            > But, this doesn't solve everything.
                                            >
                                            > The planner seems to be performing the role of an interaction designer
                                            > [they invent what needs to be built and document the user interaction
                                            > and what I think is the visual design]. Concurrently they perform the
                                            > role of project manager. Sounds tough. Sounds like a lot of

                                            They initially devise and propose the core idea of the service. They
                                            do strategic planning for the web service also; thinking about the
                                            positions of the web service in the company's whole web services
                                            portfolio, SWOT analysis, benchmarking other rival services, sometimes
                                            coming up with marketing plan and etc. And usually there is a process
                                            that the planner should do the presentation in front of executives to
                                            persuade them into allowing the service.

                                            > responsibility for one person. In support of the interaction design
                                            > work, they'll still need to work through somehow what the application
                                            > should look and behave like. They'll need to model with cards, draw
                                            > pictures on whiteboards, build and test paper prototypes. So, they
                                            > still need to build something to contain all their own thoughts – even
                                            > if it isn't powerpoint. That'll take time.
                                            >
                                            > And, if we encourage the planner to talk more over the whiteboard, and
                                            > over their paper prototypes with the designers and developers, that's
                                            > going to take lots of time.
                                            >
                                            > So, at the end of the day, we won't give the planners back any more
                                            > time – they'll be spending as much or more, but we may reduce some
                                            > significant risks of miscommunication caused by reliance on paper
                                            > documents. In addition, I think people are ultimately happier when
                                            > they can talk… but does this organization place value on "happy"? Do
                                            > they perceive any pain caused by miscommunication?
                                            >
                                            > As far as a documentation mechanism goes, right now, I believe
                                            > powerpoint works as well as anything. These days I spend more of my
                                            > life than I want to admit building powerpoint storyboards. Part of
                                            > the reason I prefer it over potentially other tools is that I can
                                            > control the fidelity a little bit. By that I mean I can make very
                                            > realistic UI when I think the situation demands it, or I can paste in
                                            > and manipulate whiteboard photos when they're sufficient – and lots of
                                            > points in between. The point is I control the fidelity. But, it
                                            > doesn't seem like your planners are working with that "fidelity knob".
                                            > Could they be? Would it save them time?

                                            Enlightening! I never thought I could lower the fidelity in the
                                            power-point. Of course, we could even use varying levels of fidelity
                                            in a same power-point file, depending on the significance and needs.

                                            I did some instruction on paper prototyping to a few teams(developer
                                            teams and planner teams), and they were very interested in the
                                            technique and Guindon's idea of opportunistic design(top-down and
                                            bottom-up).

                                            I totally agree that fidelity knob is very important. Thanks for
                                            pointing this out.

                                            >
                                            > What does come to mind is that the scale of the operation you describe
                                            > indicates that building a healthy _community of interest_ is in order.
                                            > By that I mean planners need to start regular collaboration with each
                                            > other about how they do their job. They need to share techniques,
                                            > document and share interaction patterns, basically have the
                                            > opportunity to collaborate with each other about how to get better at
                                            > what they do. Does this sort of opportunity for planner collaboration
                                            > exist in the organization? If not, could it?

                                            I am trying to nudge in. With a few teams, I came to the point where
                                            the planner team and developer team became willing to collaborate
                                            (like agile planning) but still the designer dept is the problem.
                                            There is a political issue, and a mentality issue.


                                            >
                                            > Seems like planners could also work in small teams – dividing up work
                                            > and building these prototypes faster. I've seen many organizations
                                            > that have a design team that feeds and collaborates with development.
                                            > Whether they believe they are or not, the BA teams we use at

                                            What are the BA teams?

                                            > ThoughtWorks on projects function as a design team. They collaborate
                                            > and take collective responsibility for the functionality of the
                                            > software, the artefacts they hand to development, and the day to day
                                            > communication with development. Could planners work in 2-3 person
                                            > teams? Would that help them move faster?

                                            They could in some fortunate teams, and it would make them move
                                            faster. But there are planner teams that take responsibility for
                                            almost 100 services(24 x 7) with 10 people, each one serving 10
                                            services. They make a new event for their services, plan renewal ,
                                            resolve customer dissatisfaction and etc. For such a team, that kind
                                            of move might not be feasible, well, in the shorter term

                                            >
                                            > Now, the things that make me twitchy – problems I sense but problems
                                            > you didn't express:
                                            >
                                            > How does the planner determine what was needed? How does he research
                                            > and understand his users and their needs? How does he validate his
                                            > solution is indeed a good one? Seems his life is so dominated by
                                            > building powerpoints to keep the project running that he may have
                                            > little time to determine if the resulting product is going to be a
                                            > good one. That scares me. Issues there would manifest themselves as
                                            > projects being completed on time, but end users and customers not
                                            > liking what was built. Does that happen?
                                            >

                                            I would say yes. I think they do mostly speculative researches.
                                            Conceptual design?

                                            > I'm twitchy about how little the planners seem to collaborate with
                                            > anyone on what they doe – end users, developers, each other. I'm
                                            > always suspicious of solutions arrived at by individuals working in
                                            > isolation with little context on which to solve their problems.
                                            >
                                            > What do you mean by designers? [or did you say and I missed it?]

                                            They are graphic designers. Planners plan the service, developers
                                            implement the "blue-print" and designers do all the artistic parts,
                                            like drawing jpg images, choosing specific colors for buttons, and
                                            even coding html. They have not much room to consider usability,
                                            information architecture, and all the luxury, but they are always
                                            concerned about aesthetics, I guess.

                                            Oh, the mentality problem I mentioned above, is that they are worried
                                            if their desiging skill would lag or even deteriorate when they join
                                            to become a whole team with developers and planners. They are some
                                            designers who belong to a task force (with developers and planners in
                                            the same room) but their pride is very low and they consider they are
                                            there because their design skill is not professional enough. They want
                                            to be with their kinds. They want to form a professional group.

                                            > Are they designing the inside of the system – the architecture-y stuff
                                            > – or the outside if the system – the visual and interaction design?

                                            Outside.

                                            > My guess is the former – not the latter. If that's the case, based on
                                            > what I'm hearing as constrained collaboration between them and
                                            > developers, I suspect problems come out of that too.
                                            >
                                            > Finally, the last piece of advice I could give is think about how
                                            > things would look if they were better. What would things look like if
                                            > problems were solved? Then given that mental picture of the solution,
                                            > what's the first tangible thing you can do/change you can make to move
                                            > towards it?
                                            >
                                            > In the future do planners simply spend less time doing powerpoint work
                                            > because they have a cool prototyping tool? This brings me back to one
                                            > of the first things I asked – what really is the problem here? Is
                                            > this really about saving the labour costs/time spent by the planners?
                                            > No offence to the planners – but who cares? If you saved them 25% of
                                            > their time, would that be significant to the company you work for?
                                            > Might the company them be tempted to fire 25% of the planners? The
                                            > net result being that their life really isn't any better. Look deeper
                                            > to what the problem really is here. Does it take to long to build
                                            > product? Is the product quality low? Is it too expense to build
                                            > products vs. your competition – do you need to reduce costs overall?
                                            > Where is the pain coming from?
                                            >


                                            These are good questions.

                                            I started coaching a new team with developers and planners (haven't
                                            yet figured out to have the designer participate, and they are
                                            thinking about working without a designer as far as they can get --
                                            they think the political problem is too difficult to solve) and their
                                            morale is very high. The team is working very agile using agile
                                            usability techniques.

                                            The problem is other teams.

                                            > Hope that give you some more things to think about – and potentially
                                            > some more questions to ask.

                                            Thank you. I will keep in my mind those questions and report the result later.

                                            >
                                            > Thanks for posting this here to make the discussion public.
                                            >

                                            Your welcome. Thank you again for your response.

                                            June

                                            > -Jeff
                                            >
                                            > --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "June Kim" <juneaftn@...> wrote:
                                            > >
                                            > > Following is email I sent to Jeff but I suppose it didn't make it to
                                            > > him. I think it would be better to post it to a larger audience and
                                            > > ask for help.
                                            > >
                                            > > ---------- Forwarded message ----------
                                            > > From: June Kim
                                            > > Date: Apr 19, 2006 5:08 PM
                                            > > Subject: On the Communication between Planner, Designer, and Developer
                                            > > [snip]
                                            > >
                                            > > BTW, I just want to ask some comments from you. I would greatly
                                            > > appreciate your opinion or any reference you could afford me.
                                            > >
                                            > > As I told you I am coaching a few major web portal companies in Korea.
                                            > > They have half a thousand developers and a few hundreds of designers
                                            > > and planners. Oh, the job title, "planner". I think you are
                                            > > unfamiliar with that job title. In Korea, we call those people who
                                            > invent
                                            > > and plan the web service(product manager?) as planners. They invent
                                            > > the concepts and ideas and then draw storyboards and sometimes
                                            > > organize the team and arrange the schedule, being the mediator between
                                            > > designers and developers.
                                            > ...
                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                            > Yahoo! Groups Links
                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                            >
                                          • Jared M. Spool
                                            ... I guess I was thinking about large applications, where design elements (such as date input or user login) may repeat themselves multiple times in a variety
                                            Message 21 of 26 , May 11, 2006
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                                              At 06:41 AM 5/11/2006, Adrian Howard wrote:
                                              >Oh yes, I quite agree. It's more a question of nomenclature. Once you
                                              >add a bunch of application specific detail to them is it really right
                                              >to carry on calling them patterns? Haven't they then lost the generic
                                              >nature that the name implies?

                                              I guess I was thinking about large applications, where design elements
                                              (such as date input or user login) may repeat themselves multiple times in
                                              a variety of contexts. I would think patterns would be ideal in this scenario.

                                              I agree that for small applications, it's probably overkill. But for a
                                              suite of small applications, it could be useful.

                                              Jared


                                              Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
                                              510 Turnpike Street, Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
                                              978 327-5561 jspool@... http://www.uie.com
                                              Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks
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