Selection criteria for technology platforms (Nuno)

Scoping the choice for #oosEU

A great well renowned author was once at a conference and one person in the audience asked: “You are such a great author, I love all your books, they are fantastic.. I wish I could write like you.. please tell me.. what kind of pencil do you use?

It’s a great story because it illustrates that you shouldn’t start by focusing on the tool but rather by obsessing about knowing your users and know what problem(s) you are trying to solve.

I know what to build, I just need to choose the platform

Until you’ve interviewed between 20–30 users you really don’t know your users and you’re building something based on hypothesis and assumptions. Progress at your own risk.

If however you’ve somehow managed to go through the necessary user research to build something valuable you’re now stepping into execution.

Execution is bound by the team and you should aim to first pick the best team rather than deciding on a platform and then choosing a team that works with that platform. This is best illustrated by considering these opposing views:

“I know we should use X — what are some good X people?”

“I have a good team — what does my team recommend we use?”

I would argue that the second statement is a much smarter approach to building something valuable.

Evaluating your team’s recommendation

You’ve gone through user research and you also have a team in place to work on your product. The team is pushing for a particular platform. Here are some concerns you should have in mind:

Ownership/Autonomy

You want to have ownership (or at least a way-out option) of the platform you choose so that your project doesn’t become dependent on a single platform/supplier.

Multi-lingual

You want a platform where you can make the contents available in multiple languages.

Ease of Use/Usability

You want a platform that is simple to use and according to the latest Web standards.

SEO Friendly URL structure

You want a platform that is SEO friendly from day one.

Open-Source  Continue reading

Selection Criteria for Technology Platforms (Fred)

Scoping the choice for #oosEU

Background; I’ve been involved in thinking about choosing in thinking about how to match technology choices to user (and institutional) needs since the 1980s. The big issue at that time was the arrival of the PC, personal computer. Businesses who had previously seen computers as the preserve of computing professionals, who handed out print-outs of information to managers, maybe a day or a week or a month (!) after the information was requested, suddenly found that users (not just computing professionals) could now actually touch the computer, or terminal, or desktop computer (that is why it is called a desktop) and retrieve information for themselves; later on they would be allowed to input information as well.

Metaphors; Microsoft eventually won the war of the metaphors for user-computing and determine that we would use the “desktop” metaphor. The metaphor both simplifies and shuts down choices for the user; if I know how a business desktop works then I also know how M$ Windows works. If you use computers you are interested in “business.” One of the issues we might be interested in #oosEU is what metaphors we are using in developing the Toolbox. Toolbox itself is already a metaphor of course…

Systems Analysis; As there are issues between what technology can do (its affordances) and what users want (the purpose of the system) a key process in the design of technology systems is “systems analysis.” System analysis is about looking at what the user needs Continue reading