Monday, November 26, 2007

Rounded Corners Are Nice

Quick tool tip of the day: If you have a (ahem) rounded corner fetish but aren't so handy with Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro, there's an online tool that will allow you to quickly add rounded corners to any photo or graphic.

Just head to and either select a photo from your computer or enter in a URL. Click the "Round It!" button and your anti-aliased, rounded corner image will magically appear. You can even select the amount of rounding you want and the background color that will define the space "behind" the image. A downloadable image is then made available for your use. A perfect solution from a website that focuses on one common problem. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Viral Upgrading

Hi All. Long time, no see. I haven't been writing a lot of code lately since I'm still ramping up my knowledge at IBM, but I *am* working on some stuff for Lotusphere. I'll be doing three sessions this year; two with Nathan and one with Bruce. How I end up lucky enough to speak with these guys, I do not know. Anyway, more on that to come. For now, I want to talk about "Viral Upgrading".

The Notes 8 client represents a significant shift in the way IBM views the user experience. Over the years, I've made my name as a consultant and in-house developer by working to develop good looking, easy to use applications on top of a client that was never very attractive or user-friendly. That has changed greatly, my friends, and it's time to capitalize on this fact. One thing I've observed over time is that in many IT environments, if the users start clamoring about something enough, they usually get their way. I suggest using this to your advantage within your company if you're traditionally kind of slow on doing upgrades. Start rallying the ground troops by exposing them to the new features of Notes 8 as much as possible. One great way to start is to point them at this new video on YouTube.

Other things you might try: Leave fliers showing the new interface and features lying around in conference rooms, organize "lunch and learn" sessions to show off the new look, share blogs like Alan's Lotus Notes Hints, Tips & Tricks.

The more you can get users excited about the new functionality available in Notes 8, the more they will want to upgrade. I've been talking to customers and a lot are really looking forward to getting the new version of Lotus Notes! That's pretty exciting in my book, and I hope you find it so as well. So kick off your viral upgrade campaign...and best of luck to you!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Eeekkk...What A Wretched UI!!!

Hello, my friends! Long time, no see. That's because my new employer has me signed up for so many training courses, I can barely come up for air! :-D One thing I can unequivocally guarantee...if you work for IBM, you will never be bored...haha!

Anyway, my next couple of posts will be asking for your help. I really think (and hope) that you will be able to come through on this one. Here's the deal. I am working on a new project and am looking to gather examples of really bad user interface designs. Now, bad color choices and related types of problems are pretty prevalent in Notes applications (and I certainly welcome those), but what I'm really hoping to find are those things that go beyond the surface. Do you have an application that is just incredibly hard to use for one reason or another? Is there a particular interface element used in a way that completely goes against its intended purpose? Basically, if the UI is poor in any way, I'm interested in seeing it. The worse it is, the better for me! :-)

Here are the ground rules:

1. All information you send me will be kept completely confidential. I'll credit you as contributing to the project if you'd like, but things will be modified so that the original design won't necessarily be identifiable when I show it.

2. Make sure you delete any company data from the application. Send me a clean database copy and populate it with some fake data if you can (just enough so we can see the problem).

3. If you want, go ahead and clean out any identifying company logos, names, etc.. If you don't want to do this, that's fine...I'll make sure I do it in Photoshop when I create my screenshots.

4. Send all submissions to Please use the subject "Bad UI Design Submission".

Basically, this project will be something that can be shared with the community and will be for educational purposes. The intent is not to point out bad developers or anything of the kind. I'm sure *ALL* of us can find some applications that we'd rather hide in the closet than let anyone see today. However, I think they'll be some great benefits that come out of this, so I really welcome and respectfully request your submissions. That's all I can say about it for now, but I think it will be fun.

If you have any questions about this, please let me know, either in the comments here or via e-mail. Thanks in advance for your help!!! :-)