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Mon, 17 Oct 2005

What's your UI?

As a developer or tester, you realize that a bad UI can ruin a product. No matter how good your product is, if you don't present it properly to the user, the product is perceived poorly. Maybe even cancelled.

If you write installers and your code is chugging along, installing all the bits properly, but your UI appears frozen, people assume the appliation has locked up. Same for data analysis or even web browsing. Feedback is vital.

We know this as an industry. We have UI specialists. We have user interface guidelines in larger companies. The look of a product is vital to it's success.

So, to be crystal clear, as an industry we know that a good UI is essential to a product's success.

So why don't we treat ourselves the same way?

I'm not suggesting we all apply for eXtreme makeovers, but I am suggesting that many people in the technology field give no thought to how they are seen or percieved.

I'm not talking about physical appearance, although that can be a part of it. There are many aspects to presenting yourself well.

Today I'm thinking about speaking well. Your ability to communicate clearly impacts your job, whether you are interviewing, pitching a project, or leading a daily meeting.

Many of us consider our technical jobs as crafts to be honed. How many of us realize that proper speaking just another tool in our toolbox? How many of us take time to hone that part of our craft?

How do you hone your craft as a speaker? One great way is ToastMasters. ToastMasters is an international organization dedicated to helping people learn how to communicate better. They present it more as public speaking but it's the same concept. The idea is to teach you how to present your ideas so they can be understood.

Even if you only attend your local ToastMasters for a few months you'll learn some important things.

There are people who work every week to improve themselves. They are honing their craft. (Are you?)

You'll learn the value of short learning exercises to improve yourself. (They don't read about talking. They don't talk about talking. They talk.)

Just listen to the feedback for each talk and you'll also pick up some valuable speaking tips. (Sounds like a code review, doesn't it?)

Lastly, let me point you to Alan Hoffler, a ToastMaster and also someone who's helped me with several presentations. He's started a blog with practical speaking examples and tips.

You can find his blog here.

So... when's the last time you polished your UI?



posted at: 20:21 | path: | permanent link to this entry

A Rails IDE

I've not used it but it's based on Eclipse and sounds very interesting. They are looking for testers. Anyone interested?

Check out radrails.

It really is amazing how much mind share Rails is getting these days. If you haven't checked it out, you owe it to yourself to give it at least a cursory look.


posted at: 19:49 | path: | permanent link to this entry