By Joe Goldberg, Ph.D., CPE, Chief Research Scientist, Oracle Applications User Experience
Sometimes it’s the little things that make or break a user experience.
Consider a common scenario: You’ve just found the perfect image of yourself and uploaded it to your employee profile page. After a page refresh, your headshot is cropped to fit the vertical aspect ratio of its container frame. The only problem: The right side of your face is now missing because the technology cropped the upper left of the image. Unless you want to be mistaken for a Cyclops, you now must manually re-crop in Photoshop, or whatever’s handy, and upload again, hoping for better results.
Personal images are used widely in applications on the web, from social media profiles to human capital management portraits and public sector IDs. Note this tool from the U.S. Department of State’s passport application website.
What’s needed is a way to crop headshots so that faces remain fully intact.
Smart Cropping does just that. This Oracle Applications User Experience prototype feature automatically finds a person’s face in an image and then pads and crops the image to a desired aspect ratio so that the face is at the center of the cropped image. The technology that underlies Smart Cropping is OpenCV, an open-source computer vision library now being used extensively in consumer applications, such as cameras and cars.
OpenCV uses Haar Cascades from previously trained decision tree-based classifiers to rapidly find the coordinates of any faces in an image. This computer vision technology is transparent to the end user, who now enjoys perfect face cropping.
The image on the left shows a headshot that is horizontally centered, but vertically above the image’s center. The image on the right shows the output of the Smart Cropping feature, where the image is both horizontally and vertically centered.
OpenCV is a great example of how the energies of the open source development community, scientific UX insight, and consumerization of technology come together to meet user expectations about how things should work in an easy and familiar way to solve a common problem. This alignment of the social and scientific stars underwrites the Oracle Applications User Experience (OAUX) design principles.
Visit the Usable Apps website to find out more about how you can participate in shaping our UX and how to build great solutions using the same techniques and science that OUAX uses.
Interested in discovering more?
- About OpenCV
- About SimpleCV: An easy way to step into computer vision; wraps OpenCV and other libraries
- An excellent, practical book to get started using SimpleCV/OpenCV
Julien Laforêt (@julienlaforet), Procurement Sales Consultant, Oracle Social Network Business Leader, and User Experience Sales Ambassador tells us how the Oracle Social Network Cloud Service enables employee engagement and helps attract and maintain talent.
A recent Gallup poll revealed that 70% of employees surveyed disliked their jobs or were so completely disengaged that even incentives and extras were not sufficient to improve how they felt about work.
Can't contribute, won't contribute. Disengaged employees means the entire business suffers.
This statistic is important because we know that employees who are disengaged:
- Do not exceed growth goals
- Rarely contribute to innovation
- Frequently limit their productivity
- Often share their thoughts and feelings on social media internally and externally, which contributes to negative publicity about the company
- Sometimes, they leave the company, meaning a loss of investment, incurred cost of replacement, and so on
But, engaged and happy employees participate in ways that often yields more opportunities for the company itself to be successful, and opens the door to other talented people who are attracted to similar high levels of work satisfaction.
Social media is a key that may help improve employee satisfaction and engagement. In this blog, we look at how to use it to enable positive employee engagement and results.Communicating Internally
For any employee, growing their skills and knowledge, promoting their expertise and their successes, and collaborating across teams and networks in the company are important activities. These foster community and collaboration, a feeling of belonging to something larger than their current projects.
Most of the time, these kinds of growth opportunities and acknowledgements have only been possible in small social circles, for example, direct-line managers and immediate colleagues. How do you promote your employees to people in other regions or services?
Oracle Social Network allows people to connect and share in scalable, effective ways. It allows employees to create networks and:
- Showcase their value and share their successes and expertise
- Participate in the life of the company: create, innovate, participate, share, improve
- Reduce the time spent managing emails and performing administrative tasks
Oracle Social Network Cloud ServiceShowcasing Value and Sharing Successes
With public conversations on Oracle Social Network, an employee can create knowledge communities where all employees can contribute. Participating is easier than ever as employees uses the Oracle Social Network global search to quickly find people and conversations that align with their areas of interest, and then follow those people or join those conversations at any time.Creating and Innovating
Oracle Social Network makes collaboration easy, reinforcing employees, their knowledge, and contributions as assets to a company. With employees creating, innovating, or proposing ideas, companies are more successful, employees feel valued, and unique talents of contributors are showcased in teams engaged in product innovation and competitor-killing ideas.
Nike, Inc. follows a similar model for their customers. Customers can propose designs for shoes, and the best “liked” designs might be awarded and launched in production, encourages customer engagement. Applied to employees, the model reveals that creative thinking and innovation is not limited to the R&D department in your company. Developing better products and refining processes and innovation through collaboration social process is game changer in a competitive business world.Reducing Time Spent Managing Administrative Tasks
Oracle Social Network allows contributors to publish information to their walls and in conversations dedicated to a topic, where only followers and conversation members interested in the conversation participate. Unlike email notes distributed widely, using Oracle Social Network to publish information on walls instead allows employees to manage information overload and flooded inboxes. Information is published in dedicated identifiable conversations, easily located by employees who are empowered to join in. The conversation history is accessible to newcomers so that they can find everything that has been said earlier, a practice that prevents knowledge from being lost when employees leave a company, and it enables new employees to ramp up quickly.
Only Oracle Social Network allows private, secure conversations to be initiated directly from business applications and enables two-way tracking: from Oracle Social Network conversations to the original transaction and data in the application, and from the application to conversations related to a transaction or related data.
Initiating an OSN Conversation from inside an Oracle Applications Cloud task flow
This practice removes the administrative overhead of exchanging information outside of the application's transactions, which occurs in disconnected silos, such as conversations between the requester and the buyer, project or transaction summary emails, reminders, and so on. Conversations in Oracle Social Network are contextual.
Employees can participate in business transaction-related conversations securely, too. Conversations may be private and information can be exchanged securely and in confidence among members of those conversations authorized to have such access.
Oracle Social Network is a great solution for tablets too. Oracle Applications Cloud Release 8 simplified UI shown.
When you start using Oracle Social Network, you just might find yourself asking, “How did we run our business before Oracle Social Network?” Just like smartphones revolutionized our everyday lives, Oracle Social Network will revolutionize your everyday work-life for the better.
By Georgia Price and Karen Scipi
Think about the software applications you like most. Why do you like them? How do they make you feel? What is your experience like when you use them? The most successful user interfaces—those that delight users—focus equally on the intersection of visual, interaction, and language design.
Visual and interaction design get a lot of play in the enterprise software development environment. Yet language design directly impacts a user’s ability to complete tasks. The use and arrangement of general words, specialized terms, and phrases on the UI promote a naturally conversational voice and tone and inform and induce user actions.
Simply put, the words, terms, and phrases that we promote on a UI either facilitate or hinder the user experience and either delight or frustrate the user.
As Oracle Applications User Experience language designers, we took this message on the road last month as featured speakers at the Society for Technical Communications Summit, where we presented two papers: Designing Effective User Interface Content and The Unadorned Truth About Terminology Management: Initiatives, Practices, and Melodrama.
If attendance is any indication, our message resonated with many. More than 115 people gathered to hear us talk about how designing language for the UI is just as important when building effective, simplified user experiences as creating the right interactions and choosing the right images, icons, colors, and fonts. Dozens lined up after our talks to ask questions and to learn more, making us realize that many others who build software applications are also grappling with how to design language to enable more simplified user experiences.
Perhaps we can pique your interest! Over the coming weeks, we'll share our thoughts and experiences on language design. Stay tuned to the Usable Apps blog to learn more about what language design is and how we use words, terms, and phrases, as well as voice and tone, to help build simplified user experiences and easy-to-understand UIs.
Karen Scipi (@karenscipi) writes:
The Oracle Applications User Experience team is delighted to announce that our Simplified User Experience Design Patterns for the Oracle Applications Cloud Service eBook is available for free.Working with publishers McGraw-Hill, we're making our eBook available in EPUB, MOBI, and PDF versions.
The Simplified User Experience Design Patterns for the Oracle Applications Cloud Service eBook
The eBook illustrates the same user experience (UX) design patterns and page types and components guidelines that Oracle uses to build simplified user interfaces (UIs) for the Oracle Sales Cloud and Oracle Human Capital Management (HCM) Cloud.
UX design patterns and guidelines offer big wins for applications builders because they're proven and reusable solutions applied using Oracle technology. Our eBook enables developers to build a compelling user experience consistently, boosting developer productivity, and shortening the overall time to put a modern user experience into the hands of users.Developers use the eBook to build their own simplified UIs with Oracle Application Developer Framework (ADF) and Oracle JDeveloper
Oracle partners, customers and the Oracle ADF community can now share in the Oracle Applications User Experience science and design expertise behind those awesome simplified UIs in the Oracle Applications Cloud, and begin to build their own great simplified UIs too!
Introducing the User Interface Text Editor
In Oracle Applications Cloud Release 8, there’s an addition to the customization tool set, called the User Interface Text Editor (UITE). When signed in with an application administrator role, users launch this new editing feature from the Navigator's Tools > Customization > User Interface Text menu option.
See how the editor is in there with other customization tools?
User Interface Text Editor is launched from the Navigator Customization menu
Applications customers need a way to make changes to the text that appears in the UI, without having to initiate an IT project. Business users can now easily change labels on fields, for example. Using a composer and activated sandbox, these users can take advantage of the Oracle Metadata Services (MDS), add a key to a text resource bundle, and then type in their preferred label and its description (as a best practice for further work, I’d recommend always completing that description).
Changing a simplified UI field label using Oracle Composer
In Release 8, the UITE enables business users to easily change UI text on a much wider basis. As with composers, the UITE requires an activated sandbox where users can make their changes safely, before committing them for others to see.
The UITE is used for editing UI text that comes from Oracle ADF resource bundles or from the Message Dictionary (or FND_MESSAGE_% tables, if you’re old enough to remember such things).
Functionally, the Message Dictionary is used for the text that appears in business rule-type error, warning or information messages, or as a text source when ADF resource bundles cannot be used. In the UITE, these Message Dictionary texts are referred to as Multi-part Validation Messages.
If the text comes from ADF resource bundles, then it’s categorized as User Interface Text in the UITE. This category refers to the text that appears in embedded help in the UI or in simple error, warning, confirmation, or information messages.
The UITE enables users to search and replace text in UI strings using case sensitive options, as well as by type. Users select singular and plural options for text changes, should they apply.
Searching and replacing text in the UITE
The UITE also provides users with a way to preview and manage changes on an exclusion basis, before committing to the final result. There might, for example, be situations where a phrase or word needs to remain different from how it’s generally used in the application, depending on the context.
Previewing replacement text changes. Changes can be excluded where required.
The Message Dictionary table architecture has been inherited from Oracle E-Business Suite days. However, there are important differences in the Oracle Applications Cloud version, notably the additional message text components, as explained in the UX Design Patterns.
Message Dictionary text has a broad range of uses as indicated, and it can also be reserved for internal application use, for use by PL/SQL and C programs, and so on. Message Dictionary text may even concatenate at run time, where required.
The UITE handles the flexibility of such text architecture by enabling users to drill down on each message and see how it’s constructed in total. That way, users can ensure that any text changes being made are consistent throughout the different message parts.
Multi-part (Message Dictionary) message components in the UITE
Message Dictionary messages may also use supportability related numbers, the ones that appear appended to the message text in the application’s UI. However, should you have the requirement to remove these numbers from users' view, the UITE is not the tool for the job. Instead, see my blog about using the Manage Messages UI.
I demoed the Hebrew language version of Oracle Sales Cloud Release 8 live in Israel recently. The crowd was yet again wowed by the simplified UI (SUI).
I’ve now spent some time playing around with most of the 23 language versions, or the NLS (Natural Language Support) versions as we call them, available in Release 8.
Hebrew Oracle Sales Cloud Release 8
The simplified UI is built using 100% Oracle ADF. This framework is a great productivity solution for building tablet and mobility-driven apps in the cloud for users in countries and regions that use natural languages other than English.
Oracle ADF’s internationalization (i18n) relies on built-in Java and Unicode, packing in such i18n goodness as Bi-Di (or bi-directional) flipping of pages, locale-enabled resource bundles, date and time support, and so on.
Comparing Spanish (left) and Hebrew Bi-Di (right) page components in the simplified UI.
Note the change in the direction of the arrows and alignment of the text.
So, developers who need to build global apps don’t have to do anything special when using Oracle ADF components. That's all thanks to baked-in UX Feng Shui, as Grant Ronald of the ADF team would say to the UK Oracle User Group.
Just back from the Israel Oracle User Group (ilOUG) Business Day 2014 held near Tel Aviv.
I delivered a keynote on the Oracle Voice mobile app for the Oracle Sales Cloud. Later, I showed how to customize the Release 8 simplified UIs (SUIs) and how to build similar SUIs in the Oracle Applications Cloud with UX design guidance.
Israel is an inspiring location in which to talk about tech, leading the way with awesome mobile voice innovations such as Waze, so I empathized easily with the local audience.
Oracle Voice Mobile App
My keynote began with an overview of advances in voice user experience, and how the technology has become a very hot accelerator to closing more sales deals. This lead to my live demo, performing typical sales tasks using the Oracle Voice mobile app in a Siri-like (and fun) way with sales data in the cloud. I then shared the Oracle UX principles for designing a great voice user experience (VoX, anyone?).
Later, I also showed how business users can customize the Oracle Sales Cloud and Oracle HCM Cloud Release 8 simplified UIs using composer tools, without writing a single line of code. My live show included the Hebrew language version of the Release 8 SUI, a first time demoed, I believe.
Hebrew Simplified UI Oracle HCM Cloud
Hebrew Simplified UI Oracle Sales Cloud
I kept the SUI session short and simple (that’s the idea!) and then showed how Oracle ADF developers can go further and build their own SUIs in a few hours by using our free eBook on SUI UX design patterns, Oracle ADF components and page type guidelines.
Figure 4: ebook in Use. Got Yours?
I ended the session by offering more resources for ilOUGers to explore, including how to get involved with the Oracle Usability Advisory Board, now active in the region.
A great event, and I was sorry I couldn’t spend more time in Israel. But, I was pleased with using live demos and with using lots of local Israeli and Hebrew examples. I think the Business Day attendees were happy with the performance too.
Hopefully it won’t be too long before I’m back in Israel doing live app, local-flavored, outreach to another eager and engaged audience.
Special thanks to ilOUG’s Rami Margalit and to Ami Aharonovich for organizing the day and providing helpful local insight.
Our How to Get Started in a Career in Tech piece was well received worldwide. As a follow-up piece, I asked Sarahi Mireles (@sarahimireles) to share more about an Oracle Women’s Leadership (OWL) event held in Mexico to inspire more women to explore and excel in different roles in the information technology field.
El pasado 10 de Marzo, Día Internacional de la Mujer se llevó a cabo un evento para todas las mujeres de Oracle por parte de Oracle Women Leadership (OWL).
La visión de la fundación OWL es crecer y llegar a las futuras generaciones, así como desarrollar mujeres líderes y tener un mayor alcance a la comunidad de mujeres en el ramo de TI.
Figura 1. Leticia Moguel Paz, directora de ventas Mary Kay
Leticia Moguel Paz, directora de ventas de Mary Kay, nos dio una conferencia muy amena a todas las mujeres Oracle en la que nos retó a: creer en nosotras mismas, tener iniciativa, prepararnos, practicar para ser mejores, perseverar, nunca dejar de aprender, ser mujeres de carácter, rodearnos de personas positivas, y tomar nuevas responsabilidades que nos impulsen a crecer.
“Lo importante no es lo que te sucede sino como reaccionas a lo que te sucede.” Estas fueron las palabras de Lety al hablar acerca de la toma de decisiones. En cuanto a ser mujeres exitosas, Lety dijo “Tenemos éxito cuando nos vencemos a nosotros mismos.”
Figura 2. Todas las mujeres del MDC Oracle en el evento
Fue un excelente desayuno y sin duda una excelente conferencia que a mí me dejó con muchos retos. Si quieres saber más acerca de OWL, puedes leer aquí una pequeña reseña de sus comienzos.
Introduction: Cars and Context
Like many people of a certain age, my first exposure to the term dashboard was when I heard my dad using it when driving the car. He referred to it as “the dash”.
Dad’s “dash” was an analog affair that told him the car’s speed, the miles traveled, the engine oil level and temperature, if he had enough gas in the tank, and a few other little bits of basic information. It was all whirring dials, trembling needle pointers on clock-style faces, switches to toggle on and off, a couple of sliders, and little lights that blinked when there was trouble.
Drivers in those days needed to pay attention, all the time, to their dashboards.
Old school car dashboards: quaint and charming. And a lot of work. (Source: WikiMedia Commons)
Dashboards in cars, and how drivers use them, are different now. The days of a dashboard with switches to flick or dials to turn are gone.
Today, a family car generates hundreds of megabytes of data every second. Most of this data is discarded immediately, and is not useful to the driver, but some is and may even be life saving. Technology makes sense of the surging data so that drivers can respond easily to important information because it’s presented to them in a timely, easily consumed, and actionable way.
Car dashboards are now closer to the “glass cockpit” world that fighter jet pilots experience. Cars have tiny sensors, even cameras, and other technology inside and outside the vehicle that detect and serve up striking digital visualizations about the health of the car and driver performance. Drivers are empowered to be “situationally aware” about what’s going on (what us UXers would call “context”), as they listen to or watch for signals and cues and respond to them naturally, using voice, for example.
Some car dashboards even use heads-up displays, projecting real-time information onto the windshield. Drivers know what’s going on with their car without taking their eyes off the road.
Chevrolet Corvette Heads-up Display (Source: www.chevrolet.com)
Dashboard design itself is now the essence of simplicity and cutting edge technology, and stylish with it too, arising passions about what makes a great interface inside a car. It’s all part of creating an experience to engage drivers for competitive advantage in a tight automobile market.
Tesla Model S Dashboard (Source: www.teslamotors.com)
The Emergence of Digital Dashboards User Experience
When it comes to software applications and websites, dashboards are around us everywhere too. We’re all long familiar with how such dashboards work and how to use them, beginning with the pioneering My Yahoo! portal that popularized the use of the “My” pronoun in web page titles, right through to today’s wearable apps dashboards that are a meisterwerk of information visualization, integrating social media and gamification along the way.
FitBit Dashboard (Source: Author)
An enterprise application dashboard is a one-stop shop of information. It’s a page made up of portlets or regions, chunking up related information into displays of graphs, charts, and graphics of different kinds. Dashboards visualize a breadth of information that spans a whole range of activities in a functional area.
Dashboards aggregate data into meaningful visual displays and cues, using processor horsepower at the backend to do the work that users used to do with notepads, calculators or spreadsheets to find what out what’s changed or in need of attention.
Dashboards enable users to prioritize work and to manage exceptions by taking light-weight actions immediately from the page, or to drill down to explore and do more in a transactional or analytics work area, if necessary.
The dashboard concept remains a core part of the enterprise applications user experience, particularly for work roles that rely on monitoring of information, providing reports on performance, or needing a range of information to make well-timed and high-level decisions.
In work, we now also have to deal with that other torrent of data we hear about: big data. Dashboards are ideal ways to make sense of this data and to represent the implications of its analysis to a viewer, bringing insight to users rather than the other way around.
To this end, Oracle provides enterprise application developers with the Oracle ADF Data Visualization Tools (DVT) components to build dashboards using data in the cloud, and with design guidance in the form of the Oracle Fusion Applications, Oracle Endeca and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition UI patterns and guidelines for making great-looking dashboards.
Typical Oracle Fusion Applications Desktop UI Dashboard (Source: Oracle)
Beyond Desktop Dashboards…
Dashboards’ origins as a desktop UI concept obviously predated the “swipe and pinch” world of mobility, today’s cross-device, flexible way of working with shared data in the cloud. Sure, we still have a need for what dashboards were originally about. But, we now need new ways for big data to be organized and visualized. We need solutions that reflect our changing work situations--our context --so that we that we can act on the information quickly, using a tablet or a smart phone, or whatever’s optimal. And, we need new ways of describing this dashboard user experience.
Enter the era of “glance, scan, and commit”, a concept that we will explore in a future Usable Apps blog.
Oracle has a powerful partner ecosystem in the Oracle Cloud, adding value to our applications in many areas. Enabling partners to integrate with our cloud applications is key to Oracle’s “Extending SaaS through PaaS” approach. Sharing our expertise with partners, which helps them to productively build a great user experience (UX), is a major drive of Oracle Applications User Experience (OAUX) outreach.
One of the latest additions to the Oracle PartnerNetwork is the very cool and happening Twilio. Followers of the AppsLab know the OAUX team loves exploring the UX possibilities of Twilio-based voice and SMS integrations. I took a trip to Twilio's San Francisco HQ to ask David Wacker (@dlwacker) of Twilio Channel Sales and Partnerships to find out more about the whys and hows of integrating in the cloud and simplifying user experience...
Being in the cloud offers the potential to make a major difference with a superior UX. The days of cumbersome, on-premise installations and horrible UX are gone. Now scalable, cloud-based applications, customizable and reflecting each customer’s business, are changing the UX across datacenter management, CRM, marketing automation, and ERP, all driven through how we power communications.
Twilio is a cloud-based communications platform that offers a powerful, open API for building communications applications, what Twilio refers to as "democratizing access" to communication in a traditionally complex and expensive world of telephony.
Using Twilio, developers can easily access the means to create robust communications integrations, fundamentally changing the UX landscape for applications users in the cloud. Twilio’s open API framework means developers can utilize prebuilt solutions in the Oracle Marketing Cloud, Oracle Service Cloud, and Oracle Sales Cloud. Developers can build such UX integrations productively, without the cost and effort normally associated with such projects.
David pointed out a few ways how Twilio enhanced the user experience for Oracle application users, such as the Oracle Marketing Cloud, Oracle Service Cloud, and Oracle Sales Cloud.
Twilio’s seamless integration to the Oracle Marketing Cloud (Eloqua) means that users can just drag and drop the Twilio Cloud Connector onto a marketing campaign canvas to provide for outbound SMS, MMS (multimedia messaging), and voice calls. This delivers a great multichannel user experience, such as for mobile marketing campaigns with pictures or QR coupon codes.
Dragging the Twilio Cloud Connector onto a campaign canvas easily adds Twilio SMS, MMS, and voice to marketing campaigns.
Twilio's embedding of SMS and voice capabilities right into the Oracle Service Cloud (RightNow) means a superior customer experience built in a scalable, flexible way. A service agent can use click-to-call to phone an end customer, automatically creating the event on their system and then recording the call, for example. An SMS capability can also enable customers to chat with service agents using SMS on their phones instead of web chat, if preferred, and more.
Click-to-call for customer engagement, which allows customers to call inbound more effectively.
Twilio's integration into the Oracle Sales Cloud, drives efficiency by simplifying the UX. Twilio uses the Oracle Sales Cloud native CTI toolbar to track and record phone calls, allowing for seamless conference calls, and all integrated to drive sales productivity. For example, a sales rep can use Twilio’s click-to-call to contact opportunities, automated dialing, or conference line bridges powered by Twilio, creating events and logging activities easily within the Oracle Sales Cloud.
Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) toolbar for easy access to inbound and outbound dialing in Oracle Sales Cloud powered by Twilio.
David tells me that “Twilio’s integration possibilities are endless. That's the best part about working with developers in the Twilio and Oracle communities; finding new ways to solve user problems, unconstrained by technology or traditional project limitations. I’m excited to explore new and unique ways that the Oracle developer community and Twilio can change the UX landscape in the Oracle Cloud.”
Those are some great UX insights from David, and there are more to come. The OAUX team will be working with Twilio over the coming months, so stay tuned to your usual outreach and communications channels for news and events.
Twilio is also exhibiting at, and sponsoring, Oracle CloudWorld in Chicago on Thursday, April 17, 2014. Stop by the Twilio booth to learn more (or to just say, Hi!), and give the Usable Apps blog a shout-out.