Microsoft licensing the Office 2007 ('ribbon' etc.) interface

· Applications

Via the IxDA list I noticed this item on the Jensen Harris’ An Office User Interface Blog explaining how application developers can license and implement the new Microsoft Office 2007 interface, “including the Ribbon, galleries, [and] the Mini Toolbar.”
Here are more details on the licensing process and the place where you actually go to download a license.
There is one fairly reasonable exception:

There’s only one limitation: if you are building a program which directly competes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, or Access (the Microsoft applications with the new UI), you can’t obtain the royalty-free license.

Stakeholder mapping

· Teamwork

On the IA Institute mailing list Patrick Walsh recently asked, “Is Stakeholder Analysis/Mapping a commonly used tool by IAs? It helps to identify all relevant stakeholders at the start of a project and can help ensure that they do not get overlooked.” He also pointed to a 2004 article in Boxes and Arrows by Jonathan Boutelle called Understanding Organizational Stakeholders for Design Success.
As long as I’ve been doing IA and related work I’ve understood stakeholder *interviews*, at the very least, to be a cornerstone of the discovery process. I had just assumed this was par for the course. Isn’t this how everyone does it?
Often the challenge is getting beyond the obvious stakeholders and getting access to the external stakeholders. There are a number of techniques for doing this, some qualitative (surveys, focus groups, interviews) and some quantitative (traffic analysis), but often I find that we need to rely on internal people, such as customer-support representatives, as proxies for external stakeholders because they at least have direct contact with them and are aware of some of their most pressing concerns.

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The interface of a cheeseburger

· Information Architecture

Via Scot Hacker’s foobar blog I landed on this interesting set of interface musings at Information Architects Japan, starting from the universal cheeseburger interface and meandering on through iPod and Zune.
I like the quotation Scot selected:

The cheeseburger has the easiest food interface one could think of. No forks, no knives, no spoons, no plates, no chopsticks. Like a sandwich, but softer and sweeter and above all: Standardized. No alarms and no surprises when eating a cheeseburger. Almost as simple as

Microsoft Buys Firefox!

· Web Gossip

What a surprise! Just a few weeks after launching the first update to Internet Explorer in years, Microsoft has announced that it has purchased Firefox from the Mozilla foundation. Bill Gates says that this is part of Microsoft’s plan to open source all of their software and move towards an MS Linux 2007 platform.

:-)

Fast Design = Good Design

· Teamwork

Joshua Porter wrote a terrific article about Netflix and their Fast Iteration process. Since UIE is more of a design and user experience shop, the article focuses primarily on creative designers, but I think that the concepts apply equally to developers. At Extractable, we are always trying to move away from a classic waterfall process and towards a more agile/iterative process with each new project.

So how often does Netflix update its site? Every 2 weeks.

Every 2 weeks they make significant changes. They understand that some of the changes will work, but most won’t.

At first, this sounds like a frustrating design constraint. In talking with the team, we realized that it doesn’t frustrate them at all. Instead, it frees them up to be flexible and adaptive, so they can react effectively to customer needs. As a result, they don’t deal with the many “when we redesign” issues that so many of us deal with in the design world. They’re building for the present — all the time.

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