I recently posted about the latest user satisfaction with BT’s intranet but forgot to mention one key area which really troubles me. Self service applications.
You will know my concerns on their usability and the problems trying to improve it. Well, the research confirmed all of these and showed me how much users are prepared to put up with because they have no choice.
But it is the huge loss of productivity because of the time taken completing tasks, asking helpdesks, colleagues or searching for online guidance or having to be trained to do these tasks which is my aim too.
I am working with my IT partners in BT and with our suppliers of self service applications like Oracle to improve the ‘out of the box’ usability.
This will take time but it is tackling the problem at the root source so should ultimately bring many benefits to BT and other customers of these applications.
Posted in application, benchmark, intranet, oracle, research, standards, usability
Tagged applications, bt intranet, intranet applications, oracle, research, usability, usability standards
Oracle is holding their first Usability Board Europe meeting on May 5th. I’ve been to a previous Oracle meeting and am keen to improve the usability of all applications BT uses.
At this meeting Oracle and founding members will:
The usability issues I will be raising are:
- Out of the box usability must be high
- Better usability does not mean more features. It means features must be more usable.
- Think of users when offering help.
- Don’t focus on making error messages better, aim to prevent users making errors.
I’m sharing some slides I plan to use at the meeting. Anyone want to add anything?
Posted in application, intranet, oracle, standards, usability, user testing
Tagged applications, intranet applications, oracle, usability, usability standards, user testing, users
I sometimes come across sites and applications on BT’s intranet which could be more usable. I find it can be easier to pick up with the owner or developer about its accessibility as a lever to improve other areas such as usability. Why you may ask?
Well there are some improvements which are a matter of opinion. What is usable to one person maybe very unusable to another. They are subjective.
But accessibility is NOT subjective. Either a site is accessible or not. Also in most countries there is a legal requirement for web services (this includes intranets) to be accessible. The level required may vary.
Accessibility standards are available to everyone on the internet. So whether a site or application is developed, published or managed inside or outside of your organisation, the information will always be there.
When a site or application’s accessibility is being updated it is a great opportunity to improve the usability and make other changes at the same time.
So ideally you can improve a site or application so it is legal and improved in other ways to give a better overall experience for all users.
Preventing accessibility problems as well as correcting existing problems is very important for your users as well as your organisation’s legal responsibilities.
I’ll post soon about what BT does on web accessibility.
I had another call with Oracle to build on their initial response to my first call and my recent meeting with Oracle about my UCM improvements wish list. This focused on the usability issues BT has with Oracle UCM version 10GR3.
They have attempted to address the issues we have raised. There are changes with 10GR4 and 11GR which Oracle claim will improve the usability of UCM. However I’m not sure whether BT can justify the resources required to use UCM ‘well enough’ to gain these benefits.
I really want UCM to have simpler, fewer, features that mean user with little or no technical skills can easily use it for publishing content. Oracle’s focus is also on improving usability but for the highly skilled technical minded people not the majority of users.
I’m not the only one with issues. Look at the SWOT analysis on UCM the University of Minnesota carried out.
So, Oracle are making improvements. Oracle have offered to pick up the outstanding issues not fixed by releases already completed with BT later in October.
So, continue to let me know of the issues you have that I can raise on your behalf by commenting, tweeting or emailing me.
My first meeting with Oracle last week went well. Oracle agreed with my usability issues and promised to improve their usability. My call on Friday with Oracle to cover my UCM issues started off well. Oracle agreed I did have good points about UCM’s usability. Oracle agreed to email me with actions, owners and timescales.
However that didn’t happened. Instead of a commitment to say what version would solve which problem and involving me in any unsolved issues all I have been offered is another call this Friday to cover what Oracle can do.
Maybe I’m being impatient but since it was 3 months ago that I originally raised these same issues it is disappointing the answers are not ready to hand on what Oracle can do.
So while I am making progress on wider usability issues with Oracle products through the Customer Advisory Council, the news isn’t so good for UCM…………….so far.
I’ll update you on any news after Friday’s call.
Yesterday I had the first of two meetings this week with Oracle to discuss the usability issues raised about Oracle UCM on my blog. Oracle accepted the usability issues I raised. Oracle wanted to address them in several ways.
1. The next version of UCM (10GR4) will address some of the issues raised. 11GR1 will address others. My 2nd meeting will identify which ones in more detail.
2. As BT is a major customer of Oracle I will be invited to their Customer Advisory Council meetings in future. There biggest customers have the opportunity to raise usability issues across the whole product range.
3. BT’s usability standards I posted about will be reviewed by Oracle to consider as a benchmark for usability of their products in future.
While there are no guarantees that any of this will happen or improve usability it is refreshing to see the attitude taken by Oracle at the first meeting. Time will tell if discussions are turned into actions and usability improves though.
I will keep you posted on how the 2nd meeting goes.