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Special Lecture (16) : User Experience Design for Enterprise Software By Dr. Todd Barlow Director of Usability and User Interface Design, USA

June 4, 2011

The talk on “User Experience Design for enterprise software By Dr. Todd Barlow of SAS began with an welcome and introduction note by Prof. Shalini Urs, Executive Director of the International School of Information Management ( ISiM), University of Mysore. There was very good response with many professionals from Infosys and other industries also participating in addition to the students of ISIM and the campus.

Dr. Barlow with his more than 2 decades of expertise in Interface design began his talk by focusing on the challenges and complexity of design issues in our every day devices such as faucets to Mobile phones. Starting from giving a all encompassing definition of UI (User Interface) Design, he went about elaborating on the relevance of US across the different functions of a company from Sales to customer support services. Given that the criterion of success for Enterprise Software is sales, and is sold to very large organizations, and the purchase decisions are made by a higher level decision maker in the company and the feedback is from the end user, it is a tough challenge to meet all expectations. Most UI Technologies such as Flex, WPF, JSF, JQuery, iOS are missing in functionality necessary for Enterprise Software, every enterprise software company needs a UI team in the development process. In his talk Dr. Barlow highlighted the fact that UI team is invariably a very multidisciplinary one with people from computer science to psychology being part of the team.
The talk highlighted on the issues of deployment of field personnel as proxies in the usability evaluation and the role of usability experts and domain experts in carrying out usability evaluation. Drawing examples of case studies of Usability inspection of mobile application for : Medical personnel in a hospital ; Parking officers ; Political advisors and others, the challenges of managing diverse applications and different expectations , Dr. Barlow engaged the audience in thinking about usability. He also showcased many examples of intentionally bad UI designs such as in case of “Craigslist” and “Ryanair”. The talk also covered the area of diagrammatically opposite reviews of the same product and gave excerpts of the reviews for UI of Microsoft Mobile Phones.

Dr. Barlow also talked about the kinds of problems his UI team at SAS chooses to solve for their customers. They involve complex analytics, large amounts of data, large numbers of users, or some combination of those three and about how usability fits into product development that follows the pattern of the S curve where in the number of users increase with time, and with more users how they have to be more concerned with the quality of the user experience. The majority of these users are less interested in how something works. They will trust SAS software to deliver valid, useful information and they simply want the software to work with as little fuss as possible. Dr. Barlow concluded by summarizing how presentation is the key and successful presentation layer has to be Aesthetically pleasing; Appropriate for the Audience for enterprise software, the Technology, and the Brand; should be Functional including legibility and accessibility .With the emergence of Software as Service (SAAS) paradigm and the agile approach to software design becoming well accepted, and games and mobiles becoming the most popular. UI design field has some new challenges to confront.

Speaker Profile:

Todd Barlow is Director of Usability and User Interface Design at SAS. He is responsible for the usability of SAS software, establishing usability engineering practices, and defining the role of usability in development processes. He is also an adjunct faculty member in the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in human-computer interaction. Prior to working at SAS, he worked as a consultant designing and evaluating interfaces for consumer electronics, weapon systems, and telecommunication software. He holds a B.S.I.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a B.A. from the University of Maryland, an M.S. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a Ph.D. in psychology from North Carolina State University.


June 4, 2011