Mike Wickstrand, the Senior Director of Product Planning for Windows Azure, has a feature voting page at http://windowsazure.uservoice.com/forums/34192-windows-azure-feature-voting You can suggest a new feature and you get 10 votes to apply to the features that are in the list. There’s some great feature requests in there. Go vote and add your voice.
Conferences are cool. New technology, great people, a different city, and time away from work. So you want to go to MIX, QCon, Carsonfied Events, Interaction10, SXSW or other great conferences? And you want your company foot the bill? Well these days you need a good reason. What’s your business case? In other words, why in the world should your company pay for you to go and why should they care. Especially these days.
Here’s what you need
A plan. To be exact, a business plan. According to Wikipedia, A business plan is a formal statement of a set of business goals, the reasons why they are believed attainable, and the plan for reaching those goals. For you, a business plan is why it’s good for you to attend this conference and why it’s even better for your company to pay for you to go.
So, first step. Work all this out on paper or an email draft. Figure out, in one sentence, why the company should send anyone (not just you) to this conference. This validates the conference makes business sense. Make it clean and something that your manager could send to their manager. Put it in business language, not in jargon that you use.
Next you’ll need to give the business case as to why you should be the lucky one to go. Again, give a single sentence as to why you should go. For example, here’s one for MIX, “MIX will give our company, the information and methods to create great experiences for our products; providing a business advantage, allow direct access to Sketchflow team for creating our interactive prototypes and help me learn how to move our platform to a Silverlight 4 implementation.” If you break down the sentence, it’s got three parts:
- Good for the company. (Strategic info for the company.)
- Access to teams and/or people that you would not have unless you attend.
- Good for the team.
Float that with your manager. But be sure to relate that it has direct impact on the work that you are doing.
After the business case, you can create a grid of of sessions that have benefit to the company and give a corresponding explanation. Make sure they are sessions that support your case. Here’s an example.
SketchFlow is the prototyping environment in Expression Blend. See how to use SketchFlow to collaboratively design, evolve, explore and review user experiences and interactive content.
|We’ll use Sketchflow to create interactive wireframes that can be shared with our clients prior to build. This will validate the design and interaction of our applications and cut down on thrash in our design and development cycle.|
The Web has been transformed by the recent proliferation of rich interactions and applications. But the workhorses of the online world, Web forms, have been slow to evolve with these changes. As brokers of crucial online interactions like e-commerce checkout and registration, forms bridge the gap between people, their information, and your product or service. As a result, Web form design matters. But web forms aren't keeping up. Come see a walk you through of the latest applications of rich Web form interactions (made possible by dynamic technologies like Ajax) including: dynamic help systems, inline validation, selection dependent inputs, and more. Also get an outline of how gradual engagement approaches to form design can create compelling new user experiences for a wide variety of Web applications and services. Learn how these modern approaches to Web form design can enhance your Web sites and applications.
|Web Forms are often overlooked in our process, and by using this information we can improve the experience that our clients have when filling out our forms. Less frustration around what we present to people will lead to less session abandonment and more revenue. |
In this half-day workshop, you’ll learn the skills necessary to create powerful Silverlight 4 applications. We will start with basic platform capabilities and tools, and show how to build media applications, rich applications with MVVM, and out-of-browser support.
|By attending the Silverlight 4 boot camp, I’ll have all the tools necessary for moving our web application to a Silverlight based version. I will also give a “lunch and learn” to the rest of the team to share best practices.|
You’ll need to create a grid like this for all the sessions. Remember that new sessions are always added, so check back or subscribe to session RSS feeds. Announcements are also made at company conferences, so be sure to state this in your business case. On a side note, if you get hit with a statement like, “That conference is only about ‘technology X’”, be sure to create a filtered list removing “technology X” sessions and then show the business value around it.
If you have a team going then you’ll need to create a matrix for each session and team member going. Do not have everyone going to the same session (unless it’s an EPIC session or you have a great reason). You want coverage, not overlap.
||reason for Larry
|More info here
||reason for Curly
|Even more info here
||reason for Moe|
For ideas about good business value for sessions, talk to your co-workers. See if they have any questions or challenges that could be answered by attending and talking with teams or specialists. This will boost the value of the conference. If you can walk up and ask a product team about their technology for a coworker, you just got more business value.
Ok, how much?
Next item on your list is what is this going to cost. A spreadsheet will do just fine and it’s the tool of business. If you’re giving this to them prior to an early bird discount, list it. It will usually pay for a night or two of hotel or even your airfare. List all of the items below.
- Hotel – Give multiple options (on site, off site, near site, etc.)
- Airfare or Mileage
- Food - (remember a lot of conference provide breakfast and lunch. If they do list it and mark it as included!)
- Taxes – ( you want to give them a complete cost, not just an idea)
- Misc. costs (tips, coffee at the airport, etc.)
- client entertainment - (put this one in and see if there is a budget for something like this. You very well could be sitting next to them. And if you are you should be able to buy them a drink at least!)
Remember! List discounts in your spreadsheet! You want to present the cost savings.
Once you’ve got all your homework done, you can get this to your manager. Remember you want to make it easy for them. Easy for them equals easy for you…
If you want to stay at the venue hotel, remember that a lot of times the additional cost of staying onsite, makes up for staying at other hotels. Remember that in Vegas, you can’t cut it close when it comes to getting a taxi or thinking that you’ll just walk from the Tropicana to the Mandalay Bay is not just a short walk. You walk all the way from your room to the lobby, then down the street to the hotel, then through the lobby of the Mandalay Bay to the back where their conference center is located. This could take you quite a while.
Another very important item, probably the most important. Once you’ve come back and you use a nugget of knowledge from the conference, be sure to note that in a non-obnoxious way. This will reinforce the value of your attendance.
Have fun, learn a lot, bring it back, share and good luck.
Here are some notes, links and videos to watch that I talked about at my IASA presentation at ITARC in Atlanta.
Joseph Pine: What do consumers really want? This a great video about using experience to differentiate your product.
This quote was from the upcoming movie Objectified. Check out the trailer here.
"When you see an object.
You make so many assumptions about that object.
In seconds. What it does, how well it's going to do it.
How much do you think it should cost."
The full quote about user experience is from Don Brown from the inspireUX site.
"I think a successful company is one where everybody owns the same mission.
Out of necessity, we divide ourselves up into discipline groups.
But the goal when you are actually doing the work is to somehow forget what discipline group you are in and come together.
So in that sense, nobody should own user experience; everybody should own it." - Don Norman
Check out their site for some great quotes.
Check out MIX 09 for a great conference that focuses on User Experience from developers to designers to business. Check out visitmix.com from articles, opinions and labs.
Go hear Edward Tufte speak here in Atlanta on March 12th and 13th. It's worth every penny. And it includes all four of his books.
If you need anything else you can reach me at sean [dot] gerety [at] gmail or on twitter at http://twitter.com/ideakitchn
And Thanks to everyone that came to my session and the good people at IASA.
Instead of working on my 10K SMart coding challenge, like I should be. I instead took about 20 minutes and banged out a couple of wallpapers for my iPhone in honor of MIX 09 using Expression Design using the art from the MIXtify section. If you want them, just grab them. Enjoy.
One for the MIX 09 foks...
And one for the 10K challenge peeps.
As I was working on my last post about the ease of Twitter, how it's simple concept and that simplicity has created a whole twitter ecosystem, I was also thinking about Social Media in general.
I've charted out the following social media components.
Longevity is the "shelf life" of a post. How relevant is it based off the current discussion thread or events. Attention or the level of urgency it requires to be relevant and Timeliness is when can you get to the post and still have it be relevant. Social Media has a wonderful flow of information that you can dip into and enjoy. Twitter is right now and Social Sites have a little more stickness to them when it comes to events. Web Search results have a timely quality, for example product search like the "Dell Mini 10", or for news. Email is queued naturally, but doesn't need your attention right now. Forums have longevity which can be searched or deal with issuses in the happening right now. Blogs talk about items happening now (think Engadget) and can be great references like Tess's blog which have a longevity.
Let me know what you think.
I've been doing a lot with Social Media since Atlanta Startup Weekend 2, and Twitpay. One thing that strikes me about Twitter is that it's just easy. I've created the following graphic based on the amount of work you have to do to participate in Social Media.
Twitter is so easy to use, all you do is sign up, and start tweeting from the Twitter site right away. The great thing is that from there the experience only gets richer. There are so many platforms to Tweet from and to read from, and a whole set of tools and services have organically grown up around the Twitter platform. Reply's and re-tweets are easier than commenting on blog posts (no captcha and no signing up). It's short and sweet, unlike on a social site like Facebook (get your flair!), Flickr (upload all of you photos, tag em..) or linkedin (update your profile and all your connections). From there it can go all the way to a full blown web site with a multitude of content (ala ZeFrank). Do you agree? Leave a comment or reach me on twitter at www.twitter.com/ideakitchn
Video: Overnight Success
We've heard an amazing amount about the cloud at PDC. And if you think about it, the cloud is going to change the application model for User Experience. We're going to see a flip in the model from the desktop to the cloud.
Currently we have the web 2.0 AJAX model and desktop applications to use a simplified viewpoint. The desktop applications that we use may also have a companion application, usually a web based app that you use when you're away from your desktop. For example, Outlook and OWA (or Outlook Web Access) or Picasa (desktop) and Picasa web.
Now, we're seeing the web pushed down to desktop via Google Gears, Adobe Air and soon Silverlight. Frameworks/ runtimes that allow "web apps" to run on your desktop.
Now we use the web for our email, projects, documents, conferences, photos and social networking. Our applications and data live in the cloud, which allows us to share and collaborate more, all via mobile, desktop, web and API's.
I think we'll see some interesting usage patterns.
App's hosted in the cloud.
Online in the cloud, and offline on the desktop.
The cloud as a mesh between an applications. (Picasa and Picasa web)
The cloud as a connector between applications.
The cloud as a Sync between devices (Mesh)
The cloud as the disk drive (Especially once we get high speed transactional TCP/IP)
Now as Designers, Developers and Architects we should take all of these into account and how our applications behave and interact.
This week I'll be attending the Microsoft Strategic Architect Forum and this will be one of discussions. It should fit in nicely with the three different tracks.
I'll blog about it when I get back.
Our favorite web, UI and UX conference site has grown up. It's no longer just a site about the best conference out there, MIX. It's now a site for discussion, learning, ideas, projects and yes MIX still gets some love. MIX has a new URL which is more inline with the conference. It's http://2009.visitmix.com/ And here's a peak at the landing page.
Let's look around a bit. First I like the way the site is laid out logically with Home, Articles, Lab, Opinions and About sections nicely categorizing content.
On the home page we've got a nice jambalya of content.
We've got the latest articles, opinions and labs, along with links to MIX related sites, and events. It's also got a great retro "8 bit love" format to the site. Great colors, layout and no Flash or SilverLight that I can see (bonus).
I really like the new format, with labs being the playground for code. And from the look of it it looks like they will be updated with fresh content. They've started off with Oomph, a lab that teaches you about Microformats and gives you code to play with as well. The code is on codeplex and is open source under the Microsoft Public License. I downloaded it last night and actually would love to see this as part of IE8. Even more, I'd love to have this on my iPhone. Next month, is Descry, Exploring Data and Information Visualization. Looks tasty, can't wait and I'm curious to see what is created.
The articles section has articles that are clean, easy to read (which is important with the amount of info we're hit with today and tomorrow), and they're from folks like John Allsopp. So we are hearing voices from different parts of the web.
Opinions looks to be the blog and discussion section of the site. Check out Thomas Lewis's post which lays out the vision and direction of the new site.
And over in About there's a lavender frog. Huh? I don't know either. But, there is an important statement in the about section.
The last point is probably the most relevant. When I have a business issue at work. It's not a C-Level person coming to me saying "Oh, we need be on technology X right away", and if they do you should question why. They come to you with a business objective or scenario. And that's how we work in everyday life.
Hat's off to the visitmix team. You've done a fantastic job. It's nice to see a different approach.
Art, whether it's music, visual or another of our senses, art creates a connection to the experience.
Why do we disregard it in our software so often?
Here's something for you to enjoy.
Solar, with lyrics.
It looks like the Surface group has been really busy since Mix08. Found by way of Long Zheng, are refined and polished versions of existing apps and a bunch of new applications.
Check our Long's post.
I haven't really had a chance to blog to much while I've been here at Mix 08. There's just to much to see. From Surface to Elvis there is just to many cool things here and even more great people to meet. I've been twittering most everything because I can do it from the session. You can follow those at www.twitter.com/ideakitchn
I've run into a lot of folks here from chatting with Miguel de Icaza about running MoonLight on a the ASUS EeePC to Karsten and the need to add an architect role to "The New Iteration", which actually became a quick conversation about different workflows for different organizations (Enterprise, Startup, etc)
I'll post more later on, with pics and also add more about what's going on with my new job.
I'm getting ready to head out the door for MIX 08. Looks like the weather here in Atlanta may be a little nasty. I'll be twittering along the way. I'm looking forward to hitting the tables at MIX, once the Sandbox is open. I had started a Flotzam restyle, but only did a little on the Digg template.
I was just having some fun creating the "Venetian Pantry". I was going to do "Digg Beer", "Flickr Cheese", and "Twitter Soda". If you want to XAML for it, meet me at MIX08, contact me or wait till I get back to put it online. See you there.
Edward Tufte, master presenter, author and information design visionary will be in Atlanta on March 24th and 25th. If you haven't seen him, register here. You also get all four of his books included in the price. I'll be here and if I can go, possibly we could have a meetup with Professor Tufte after.
(edited on 26 Feb 2008 for date corrections)
Here's an idea for Photosynth that I'd like to see happen, that I had about a year ago.
Premise: Visual hyperlinking that uses Photosynth style photo mapping for search matches.
Usage: You're out looking for a place to eat and you snap a pic with your camera phone of a café, the send the image to the Photosynth query engine and you get back a tagged result set with items. Places to eat, businesses, history, events, and ratings to name a few. You could then click through a couple of results and get impressions of other people that have eaten there.
With the increase in geotagging of photos (2.2 million this month), online public photos galleries (ala Flickr) and hyperlinking to blog posts the information is already there. All we need now is the Photosynth query service.
I'll be at Mix if you want to chat about it.
Whenever the discussion comes to new technology and why would an organization risk using new technology, I think that Wayne Gretzky, yes the hockey player, got it right with this quote.
I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.
Just swap "puck" with "technology" and "skate" with "code" (or "architect" or "move") you get...
I code to where the technology is going to be, not to where it has been.
Hockey and new technology, I guess being in Canada for a day or two is influencing me. :)