Thanks to Tortoise Design

Some weeks ago we met Fabian of Tortoise Design for a beer to discuss how they could improve their web shop usability. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to go through the whole user centered design process, but we gave them some advice on what they could do without hiring a usability professional. We also had a look at a paper prototype they already worked on.

Today, Fabian gave us a visit and showed some intermediate work on their redesign. It was interesting to see that some of our ideas made it through their usability tests. Again, we couldn’t resist to discuss the new iteration of designs. In August we might be able to see the final result, as they plan to relaunch the new version by then. It will be interesting to see how their figures will change after the relaunch.

And for these two short meetings, Fabian brought us our own logo as stickers for our laptops. They just look great, don’t you think so?

Thanks again, Fabian!

pidoco° at Usability Stammtisch Hannover

Some days ago we received an invitation to present our prototyping tool at the Usability Stammtisch in Hannover. For sure we will follow this invitation and will give a presentation on “web-based paper prototyping”. The Stammtisch takes place the 31st of July in the Apollo Konzept in Hannover. It starts at 6pm.

Our presentation will start with an introduction on paper prototyping with its advantages and disadvantages. The main part of the presentation will demonstrate our Prototype Creator and its concepts. This includes a discussion with the audience on what they think about these concepts. We are looking forward to a serious discussion.

In addition to our presentation, our friends from Nurago will showcase their LEOtrace tools as well.

See you in Hannover!

Meeting the Oryx guys

The Oryx project of the business process technology chair at Hasso-Plattner-Institute is developing a browser based editor for business processes in different notations. As we know the chair quite well, we visited them today for exchanging our experiences in development.

If you compare our preview version with their editor you will see that we both use the ExtJS framework and we both use SVG for displaying our data. However, from an architectural point of view, we differ from each other. While our server back-end provides several advantages, it is the Oryx front-end architecture that stands out in comparison to ours.

Although it might be difficult to really share a common source code basis in both projects, sharing the architectural aspects is definitively interesting for both of us. Let’s see how we can benefit even more from each other. Thank you guys for this afternoon.

World Usability Day 2008 in Berlin – Usability and Web 2.0

Although the actual event is still some months to go, we started the search for sponsors as well as for interesting talks. We chose the topic “Usability and Web 2.0” to explore the new challenges for usability professionals that the new technologies and social aspects of the Web 2.0 pose.

In case you / your company are interested in sponsoring the event, please refere to the sponsoring section of the event website.

If you have some interesting projects or other new solutions you want to talk about, feel free to submit a proposal. We also accept proposals in English!

We are looking forward to welcome you to our event!

On the background of the World Usability Day:

World Usability Day was founded in 2005 with a mission to increase the public’s awareness of the need to make the services and products important to human life easier to access and simpler to use. Global issues such as healthcare, education and government are addressed through expert forums, exhibits, events and initiatives in numerous locations throughout the world. (from the press release for the World Usability Day 2007.)

pidoco° at IxDA Local Meeting in Berlin

Next Wednesday will be the second meeting of the Berlin IxDA group. We from pidoco° will be there to show our Prototype Creator. For those who have seen one of our presentation earlier this year or have had a look at the preview can be looking forward to this presentation, because we will show our most recent version, which has not been shown so far.

The meeting will be at NewThinking Store, Tucholskystr. 48, Berlin Map.
It will start at around 7pm.

Looking forward to meeting you there.

BarCamp Leipzig

I’m just on my way back from another BarCamp, this time in Leipzig, Saxonia. Somehow I have the impression, that there is a family of BarCampers that you meet everywhere, like Till form Sonntagmorgen.com, Peter from brainr.de, just to mention some. The nice effect is, that you already know lots of people. On the other hand, i have the impression that many topics repeat without a significant amount of new information. This makes the BarCamps less interesting, regarding the sessions.

However, two sessions stuck out:

Tom introduced a very interesting project, called AntMe.net. This is a new development environment for newbies to learn programming on a playful way. The environment is a game whose goal is to program a bunch of ants that are running around and should collect food and fight their enemies, the bugs. Using very easy to learn commands, kids can describe behaviour for the ants. Due to the fact, that the same program is used on each individual ant, they learn object-orientation without the need to study the theory nor read boring books.

A community has already been established that write incredible programs with AntMe. Some have transformed the given information of the direction and distance into coordinates. Others have written a ticket based system to distribute the different tasks to the ants. And the bonus was a program that made the ants dance on the playground. I’m really impressed by this system. For kids this is definitively a funny way to learn the basics about programming. If i have some time, i’m going to write my own AntMe program next week.

The other session I want to mention here was about Silverlight. Well, in fact it was declared to be on Usability and Silverlight. The presentation provided a good overview of Silverlight and the stuff around. However, to me Silverlight is just another Flash with some slight improvements and similar drawbacks (=> Plugin). I have not jet seen the big advantage. In addition, i do not know why Microsoft makes you think with Silverlight you will improve the usability of your software. I had this impression already last summer, when I attended “Express yourself”.

What you can do with Silverlight is improve the user experience. But this is, although related, a different thing than usability. What you definitively can do with Silverlight is build applications that are less usable, because the developers played too much around. Just think about tooltips that include a movie (as shown in the presentation)? I’m not yet sure what to think about Silverlight…

Maybe, I should do a presentation myself on my next BarCamp, that increases the diversity of sessions. Could be something about discount usability, a live prototyping session, or something more technical about SVG and / or ExtJS. Let’s see.

Who said engineers can’t write business plans?

Yesterday, we had the pleasure to attend the award ceremony of the second stage of the business plan contest of Berlin and Brandenburg, Germany, 2008. This contest is divided into two sections, one for technology oriented businesses (BPWtechnology) and one for non-technology ventures (BPWservice).

Out of about 100 business plans we were awarded with the first prize in BPWtechnology! We feel especially proud, because of the tough competition we faced: the second prize went to Surgical Solutions, a project to support surgeons with a kind of navigation gadget for surgeries. The team MagicMap were awarded with the third prize. They offer a new software solution for the localization of smartphones, PDAs, or laptops also within buildings.

The focus of this second stage was on the market and marketing concepts. The judges especially like the realistic estimation of the attractive market potential and the good plan for the market entry.

Let’s see how we will perform in the third and final stage of the contest where the complete business plan will be evaluated.

Panel Discussion at the Local Meeting of the Business-Plan-Contest Berlin / Brandenburg

Tomorrow, our experiences as founders are in demand!

To be more precisely: I have been invited to participate at the 5th local meeting of the business plan contest Berlin / Brandenburg 2008. This meeting is supposed to bring together coaches and (possible) founders to network. A panel discussion together with 5 further founders will provide insights into the live in a startup. The meeting starts at 6pm in the old town hall (Altes Rathaus) of Potsdam. A description of the directions and the agenda are available in German language.

If you are thinking about founding your own company, you are welcome to attend the panel discussion. We would be glad to share our experiences with you.

Where the Web was born..

Today I visited the CERN, the research center in Geneva, Switzerland, where Tim Berners-Lee worked when he developed the “World Wide Web” back in 1990. This sign is right next to his former office door in a dark corridor of the oldest building of CERN.

I attended a talk on the history of the web given by Robert Cailliau, who was the main collaborator of Tim Berners-Lee. The most interesting part of his presentation was on “le grande erreur”. They had to significantly reduce the features of their first web browser and server in order to run on almost any computer. Their original attempt included also the editing of the pages, but the reduced version was very basic, with no pictures and only static pages containing text with numbered links.

When things took off, they thought that not implementing all their many ideas due to the lacking support on most computers would be a big error. However, due to this very simple version they made the web as we know it today possible. After all, starting with such a very basic and rather limited version, enabled the flexibility of the standards that were the result of Tim Berners-Lee’s work.

It has not always to be the amount of features that a software supports, but sometimes, if very few things fit incredibly well together the overall result more valuable. In our discussions on future features for Prototype Creator we follow the approach that with few but well implemented concepts a better result can be achieved.

p.s.: and yes, at CERN they might create some black holes with their new accelerator. However, everybody assured that they won’t be dangerous.

New Preview available

Today, we deployed a new preview of our Prototype Creator. Beside many smaller bug fixes and server-side improvements, two new features are worth mentioning in here:

By uploading image files, you can now put a background image to a page. These images can be some prepared designs that you have made with e.g. Photoshop. When you open a page in the editor (by a double click on a page in the sitemap) the palette contains a new element called ‘ClickArea‘. This is a transparent rectangle that is used for defining click maps. Back in the sitemap you can attach arrows to such a click area to define the link target.

We have prepared some images for the preview version so you can play with them. One of the next things we have already started implementing is in-place editing. If you have other ideas, we’re looking forward to get your feedback.