Archive for November, 2009

What ETS Taught Me About User Interface Design

This week was quite a week for me. I had the honor of going to New Orleans and being one of Olive Tree Bible Software’s representatives at the ETS conference this year. I wasn’t sure at first what to think of the trip before I left but I can say today (as I am flying home) that I really enjoyed it and hope to go again next year and maybe even stay for SBL as well (which I am told is even more exciting than ETS). I probably enjoyed the conference in a far different way than most who attend because I did not attend any of the talks but instead manned our booth in the Expo Hall. This meant that I was able to interact with our users on a more personal way and they got to put a few faces to Olive Tree at the same time.
The interactions ranged from general questions about the product to tech support issues that they were dealing with. It was always fun to help people who just couldn’t figure something out. Their questions typically started with “I am probably dumb or something but…” followed with a question that almost always ended up being a design flaw in our interface where we thought something would be obvious to the user was clearly not obvious and watching them interact with the application really helped me see some changes we can make to in order to make our BibleReader more intuitive to the average user. You might ask why we didn’t catch these issues during our extensive beta testing and I think there are two reasons for this. The first reason is that most of our users are not tech savvy yet beta testers do tend to be more tech savvy and pick things up more quickly even if it’s not immediately obvious. Secondly we have many new users and our user base is growing rapidly each day which means we need to tailor our app to users who have never used a bible app and who may not be of the tech savvy crowd. Thus we need to find a way to do this in a way that still satisfies our hardcore users. It’s a balancing act which we can always improve upon, and we will improve upon as we learn from our users.
If you stopped by the booth the week of ETS I wanted to say thank you, it was a pleasure meeting so many satisfied BibleReader customers. Hope to see you again next year.

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Up Next…

With 4.10 out the door I am able to finally start on a project I have been dying to work on for a couple of years now. I authored the ReadingPlanner for the Palm OS several years ago and have been wanting to get back to it ever since.

When I was being interviewed for my position Drew, the CEO of Olive Tree, asked me what I would work on if I had unlimited resources to devote to that project. Daily reading came to mind almost immediately, and he suggested that one of my projects at Olive Tree could be daily reading.

That excited me but I tried not to get my hopes up to high as I know that real day to day work tends to trump pet projects, especially when you have to generate a paycheck from your work. Simply getting to work at Olive Tree was enough for me but daily reading would be a bonus.

I hadn’t been at Olive Tree a week and the subject of daily reading came up. Stephen mentioned to me that they were seriously wanting me to work on daily reading but we had a few other things to get done first.

Now that 4.10 is out the door that list has grown short enough that it has suddenly become the time to start work on this project, and I am excited to say the work has already begun. I don’t want to go into too many details for what I have planned but I think many of our users will never see daily reading plans in the same way again.

I would like to hear from you as to what you think would make daily reading more useable and interactive. Any ideas on how we can integrate daily reading into the social media? What are some of the limiting factors of traditional daily reading schedules?