Great UI examples for LN applications (recap)

Some time ago I was asking for some examples of great UI’s for Lotus Notes applications. All this promote the upcoming roll-out of the Notes 8 client in our organization.

Too bad I did not receive so many examples but the ones I received were very helpful and food for thought.

Criteria I would like to set for a great UI is that it should look:

  • similar in both Notes 8 standard (Java) and basic configuration
  • familiar to the PIM applications
  • like a Notes 8 application

One great help was the document ‘User experience guidelines for IBM® Lotus® rich client applications and plug-ins‘ written by Mary Beth Raven. On Inside Lotus you can also download a example discussion template so you can see yourself how the new templates will look like (in your Notes 7 client).

Also Martin Vereecken wrote a usefull tip about mimicing the action buttons from Java views.

Well here is my so far so good result:

UI example
UI example

Nothing ‘spectaculair’ but going to the guidelines document and applying the rules in an application brings a lot of ‘logic’ and consistence among other applicatons to the end-user.

One guideline had my special attention:
Put actions in the Actions menu and action bar. Do not put actions in the outline unless the action is directly related to one of the views or folders.
Normally I use an outline for actions that are so general that I want to have it everywhere available (like opening a configuration profile). Therefor I added a header with tabs. One is called ‘Menu options’ where I provide a dialogs with actions that are related to certain userroles (admin, editor, reader).
I also added a ‘Using’ and ‘About’ tab in the header to push our developers to provide instructions and general information about the application. Something that is often lacking.
For the ‘menu’ or ‘outline’ I would like to use collapsible tables like in the OpenTV project on OpenNTF but that is still bugging me
Your contribution is still welcome =)
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10 thoughts on “Great UI examples for LN applications (recap)

  1. Nathan T. Freeman 2008-September-7 / 4:46 pm

    I’m disappointed to hear that you didn’t think you saw enough examples, since I know there are a large number of examples that you can download from interfacematters.com and from nathan.lotus911.com.

    But then, looking at your criteria — that a good UI is necessarily like the PIM applications, I can see why you aren’t a fan of the kind of thing that Chris and I have shown off. That’s too bad. I think you’re really missing out on more impactful user experiences by focusing on making your applications look like email.

    In your example, for instance, what immediately jumps off the screen for me is that you immediately have to expand 5 levels to get to a piece of detail information for high-potential candidates. Does it even make sense to present a view in this case? Why not start with a search bar? This high degree of compartmentalization is what caused Yahoo to fail against Google.

    The most prominent feature about this interface is the invitation to take the information out of it and put it in Excel. I would wonder why users are so anxious to do that.

  2. 1352report 2008-September-7 / 6:46 pm

    What did the customer want for the UI? That’s always a good start 🙂

  3. Nathan T. Freeman 2008-September-8 / 1:03 am

    @1352report – You have customers that know how to design a good UI? I suppose if you’re contracting to Apple or Google, that’s a valid question. Most of the customers I know wouldn’t have a clue how to design a UI and end up asking for an interface that becomes very attuned to the thought processes of the individual participants, but has little to do with good usability.

    It does, however, ensure you’ll get paid. So if that’s your primary concern — by all means, ask the customer what constitutes good UI.

  4. Tony Palmer 2008-September-8 / 2:08 am

    I think that you did a good job based on your criteria, and better than some UI’s that I’ve seen for Notes Applications that are for sale – so keep it up.

    I guess that you might have different criteria if you were putting together examples for a LotusSphere presentation, which might need to be revolutionary or impactful. I can see where Nathan is coming from and when you have free reign you can push the boundaries. Sometimes, there are other constraints that you have to abide by such as corporate standards, user expectations and users familiarity – which all have a role in determine the final interface.

    Sometimes you even have to involve the customer or customers rep who might have some say in the end result. Chris has blogged and presented about how to do this (I wouldn’t want to speak for him). However, beware of customer reps – who think they know what the end users want. Make sure that you get the end users in front of the application if you don’t think that the customer rep understands what the users need.

    Thanks for posting the screen shots, I’m sure that someone else will also find this useful.

  5. 1352report 2008-September-8 / 4:21 am

    @Nathan – yawn…..

  6. Nathan T. Freeman 2008-September-8 / 5:07 am

    @Tony – My point is that the criteria should be “what’s a good UI”… not “what’s a good Notes UI?” If the nature of a Notes UI is that it’s based on a foundation that isn’t so great, then the whole platform is hamstrung.

    No need to do that.

  7. Patrick Kwinten 2008-September-8 / 3:04 pm

    @Nathan: why people want to have exports to Excel? because that is their way of working, making pivot tables like that. sometimes external consultants need this information and they have no knowledge of Notes and learning them Notes would not be effective.

    Which examples of nathan.lotus911.com are you referring to? I hope not the ‘Interface Matters 2008 Demo NSFs’ cause I only might like those when I would be color blind or something.

    The ones Tony Palmer send to me where quiet nice but that is up to hom if he would like to share those.

  8. Tony Palmer 2008-September-9 / 12:52 am

    Patrick,

    the UI resources are in the nsf download from my post, “Dojo example nsf – available now” for anyone to use.

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