Blog Post: Engineering Around A Barrier

I am encouraged by blog posts like this by Thomas Husson. Instead of seeing a technology like QR Codes as “dead”, companies like mobiLead solutions are engineering around the problem.

While I don’t think this is the only barrier, QR Codes are kind of an eye sore and difficult to weave into attractive marketing materials. What if, instead of sticking one in the bottom of a print ad, the logo had the target integrated?

That, and mobile devices having scanners fully integrated into the operating software, could give the technology a bump in the right direction.

It’s solutions like this that could benefit fringe breakthrough ideas like QR Codes, NFC chips and RFID tags. Identify the barrier and engineer around it.

Blog Post: Engineering Around A Barrier

Read more "Blog Post: Engineering Around A Barrier"

Blog Post: User Stories are Overrated?!?

Today’s link really got my blood boiling this morning, mainly because I have had Scrum training from Mike Cohn. I also hate it when people feel the need to go after the top people or businesses in an industry as a means of getting some notoriety. That may or may not be the case, nevertheless I watched the video from Tom Gilb seething.

After some Googling, I found out Gilb is a engineer and has made quite a career out of the inspection and metrics behind great software. I didn’t need to search to find this out, though, because that world view is clear from his approach to user stories.

That’s when it dawned on me that this video is a great teaching tool for product personnel. As I always say to my colleagues: user stories are the beginning of the conversation with development, not the end. The mistake I think Gilb makes is seeing stories by themselves as the sole piece of information an engineer needs to do complex work.

Having used this method of communicating requirements at several different companies, trying to lump all user stories in the same boat is hard. We all write them differently, and compile acceptance criteria differently. Within the same release, I am capable of providing a great amount of information that gives developers everything they need as well as the opposite. That’s where the conversation takes place.

Every engineer and architect I have spoken to have had their fair share of poorly written requirements. My favorite joke is to tell my team, “show me on the doll where the product owner touched you.” The challenge to my job is finding a way to meet them in the middle of the conversation and craft stories towards a method of delivering the best features possible.

So, instead of bashing Mr. Gilb for not reading and understanding Cohn’s methods, I would like to thank him for reminding me the purpose of my job. It’s not to stand in the way of great software, but making it easier and well thought out.

We involve stakeholders, help with design, converse with our teams, and document everything along the way. We are product managers, Tom, and our user stories can be your friends.

Blog Post: User Stories are Overrated?!?

Read more "Blog Post: User Stories are Overrated?!?"

Blog Post: Will iOS Truly Be Flatter?

This article from GigaOm certainly poses interesting ideas for the future of the iOS platform, but I am still skeptical. If Johnny Ive is truly delivering this new design at WWDC next month, I have a few friends that are going to be very busy real fast.

How I see this shaking out is more than just the native application space. If the flat, Windows Phone-like design is the future of mobile, it will affect all web design as well.

As responsive design takes over, it certainly stands to reason that a tiled, flat design is the way to go. There are a few devs at my office that aren’t convinced of it’s superiority yet. They think that we are changing our platform to accomodate something deemed a “fad”.

I can’t say I’m convinced either, but until a product design choice is universally adopted the same could be said for many ideas. if we want to be leaders, we have to step out there and try something bold.

Have fun designers.

Blog Post: Will iOS Truly Be Flatter?

Read more "Blog Post: Will iOS Truly Be Flatter?"

Blog Post: Responsively Retrofitting An Existing Site

For some, this Smashing Magazine article is sacrilege. How could you possibly take a complex existing website and retrofit it to a responsive design? For others, it can seem darn near impossible. What if you have too many features and customization build in to your platform?

Many companies (including my own) are asking themselves similar questions in weighing how to move their products ahead of the curve and onto a single platform. Part of that push and pull will be taking a hard look at their Google data to see what scared cow of a feature isn’t really that necessary.

Several of the new, responsive designs I have been testing lately are taking a minimal approach. It’s easier to have objects wrap to the size of the screen if there are less of them. We all know that many industries don’t have that option.

In most situations, it is possible to make this transition without rebuilding the framework and platform from scratch. As my boss told me, it’s not about showing off the entire package at once. Making the responsive transition is more about a plan that delivers incremental progress. 

Blog Post: Responsively Retrofitting An Existing Site

Read more "Blog Post: Responsively Retrofitting An Existing Site"