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Inside Mobile Design and User Experience

Thoughts on mobile and social business applications, design, and user experience, by Chris Reckling.

Now that I'm back from vacation (Prague - nice!) and recovered from all the work that piled up, I can continue the series I started this month on the things to like about Notes. By way of review, check out:
8 Things to Like About Notes 8, Part 1: Mail
8 Things to Like About Notes 8, Part 2: Calendar

Now, on to the main event...Contacts is the third major application to get a face lift in Notes 8.
1. Different view types - Contacts can be viewed in either the standard list view or as business cards, complete with pictures. You can also choose to have the contact preview on the side in addition to the bottom of the screen.
2. Streamlined forms - The forms have been redesigned and most people I talk to or hear from have had a positive reaction to them. They put more of the functionality in front of the user and have a cleaner look. Also, when you are reading the document (aka read mode) only the fields that are filled in will display.
3. Move Advanced to a different “area” - Since our target users are Samantha, Ted, and Betty (poor end users, not techies), they don't know anything about all that "other" stuff that is in the personal names. nsf - connections, accounts, locations, certificates, etc can be accessed by clicking the Advanced link in the navigator, which opens up to access those settings.
4. Recent Contacts - Recent Contacts is a new feature/view that keeps track of your most recent interactions with people. It basically stores a document for each person you've gotten email from or sent to or chatted with on IM. You can turn it off completely in the Preferences for Contacts. It plays a part in #6 below, too. There are some things coming in 8.0.1 to help manage these, but I don't want to go into that here.
5. Collaboration History - Actually available anywhere in Notes where there is a user name, Collaboration History will display the emails and chats with the selected person.
6. Type ahead - This could be a reason to upgrade to Notes 8. It's one of those features that I use everyday now, that I don't know how I lived without it before. Sure, Notes had type ahead before, but this one is much smarter because it will look in your recent contacts list and personal Contacts list first. It is also smart about knowing the difference between an occasional contact and a frequent one. That means if I start typing "Mary" it will always find Mary Beth Raven first and Mary, my assistant second, and all the other Mary's in IBM after that.
7. Betty can manage Ted’s contacts - Previous versions of Notes allowed Betty to manage Ted's mail and calendar. Now she can also manage his Contacts. Ted enables this delegation in his preferences as before. He also must turn on synchronization of Contacts in his contacts preferences. That will also enable #8 below.
8. Synch contacts on replicator page - If you choose to do so, you can store your contacts in your mailfile, a la DWA. If you enable this setting, then a new entry on the replicator page keeps the local copy and the server copy in synch. As stated in #7, this also lets your assistant manage your contacts.

That's it for now. I hope everyone is enjoying the new release. Next up, I will talk about 8 Things That Work in Any Notes Application - like spellcheck, undo, help and 5 others. Stay tuned.

Chris Reckling
Program Director, MA UX Design Studio, Lotus Software

Chris Reckling | 30 August 2007 05:21:13 PM ET | Westford, MA

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