blog.frederique.harmsze.nl my world of work and user experiences

August 31, 2012

Let’s not cut the tree in half to fix the swing

Filed under: Usability — frederique @ 20:01

I had a flashback to the tree swing the other day. I felt like we were about to cut the trunk of the tree to fix a problem in SharePoint Online… NOOOOOO!  Fortunately we didn’t actually go there. Instead of continuing on the path of complication, we doubled back and simplified.

Thank you http://www.projectcartoon.com ! By the way, there are a few interesting new options in the classic tree swing project cartoon I hadn’t seen before, including a butterfly effect for its performance under load and the iSwing. And here’s another nice and very extended series of cartoons of what different teams can do to that poor tree swing, including health & safety inspectors…

It’s a balancing act
Our starting point in the development of this SharePoint Online intranet was to use the platform as much as possible “as is”. No development in the sense of programming. No customizations; just deciding which elements of the product we should take out of the box and how we should configure them and put them to use. This starting point makes sense, given the fact that we are in the cloud and we want to float along with any updates and upgrades.But we have flown way beyond that starting point now.

The goal of the intranet is to help the employees do their jobs. And the standard out of the box functionality is just not good enough for an intranet of hundreds of team sites that help thousands of employees collaborate, share knowledge and follow their business processes efficiently. Fortunately, we can actually talk to the users down the hall, so we don’t have to guess as much as the cartoon projects working for the swing customer…

So we had to customize. And then deal with the complications caused by the customizations. It’s a balancing act, between functionality and usability on the one hand, and maintainabillty and feasibility on the other hand.

Oh well, we not only have a tree swing, but also a see-saw and a tightrope in our playground…

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