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Susan Price <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Susan Price <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 30 Jul 2009 12:11:56 -0500
text/plain (108 lines)

The key thing you've mentioned is "It's an application they'll use all  
day long."

That fact makes the users' current web experience and sophistication  
much less relevant in this case. Their work with your app will quickly  
make them experts in its use.

So of course your design needs to minimize time on task. The app would  
be frustrating to the soon-to-be-expert users, and you should be able  
to carry your point by showing them time saved by your more advanced  
interface with two "time on task" equations such as this:

# of Users x time on task per transaction x transactions per day |  
month | year

Figure in hourly salary rate if it's relevant, or focus on time saved  
to do other tasks if these aren't hourly folks. Either way, the cost  
savings look tremendous. Start with time or cost saved per day, then  
figure it by week, month and year for an argument that builds.

A dense, more complicated application layout sounds appropriate here,  
one that as you say minimizes page-to-page movement. Pack as much  
activity as possible in the smallest amount of screen space. Make sure  
they can use their keyboards to move around.

Of course you'd work to make it modular, and optimally it would fit  
into their overall desktop landscape in an intuitive fashion.

The other data point that matters is, how much turnover do they  
anticipate in that small group? The training burden might be slightly  
higher - but unless the training burden is huge and the user tenure  
approaches the training window, it still shouldn't sway the decision.

That said - now I'm curious to know what elements beyond "standard  
HTML" you're planning to use. In an expert app, my usual task is to  
pack the interface more densely with controls, fields and information  
- and remove or peripheralize the "help" functions, which become a  
distraction. That typically doesn't require a lot of dynamic elements.  
And I do use dynamic elements in nonexpert interfaces too, often to  
reduce the number of visible choices and clutter.

Keep us posted!

Susan Price
[log in to unmask]

On Jul 28, 2009, at 2:48 PM, Hal Shubin wrote:

> I'm developing a Web application with a client. The users will all  
> be internal -- a small group of people, but it's an application  
> they'll use all day long.
> The client is worried that using anything beyond standard HTML may  
> confuse the users because some of them are not very sophisticated in  
> their Web use. (Based on my interactions with the users to far, I'm  
> not sure this is a problem, but the client does, so it is.)
> I'm developing a plan for a survey and a series of customer  
> interviews. I want to see what they currently use online and see how  
> they react to some things that we are considering for the UI. At  
> this point, I think I'll do some interviews, use that information to  
> create a survey, then do some more interviews based on all that we  
> learned up to that point.
> There is some training involved in this application, but they're  
> obviously looking to limit the amount that is required. On the other  
> hand, it's an application that will be in use for many years, so a  
> few minutes of training to introduce some new concepts that save  
> time seems like a good investment.
> I don't want to use cool features just for the sake of having them,  
> but I don't want to create something that's immediately out of date.  
> And if we can save time by eliminating page transitions, then I'm  
> all for it. (I've always thought that page transitions are one of  
> the biggest problems on the Web -- sometimes you forget what you  
> were doing by time the page loads.)
> And I thought I'd start by asking all you smart folks if you had any  
> suggestions while I'm coming up with the plan.
> thanks				-- hs
> - - - - - - - - - -
> Hal Shubin
> 617 489 6595  |
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