Talking our way to new technologies – blue sky browsing
The journey to innovation…
I’m really looking forward to next week as I’m going to spend a chunk of quality time with some of my favourite people… People-time?… And me, supposedly a techie?… That can’t be right… can it?
Technical types have a reputation for living in developer caves, from which they emerge only to forage for pizza and to curse users who keep breaking their lovely code. Perhaps that’s why a much younger me felt so comfortable slipping into I.T from the entertainment industry. I was used to set designers moaning at actors for getting in the way of their beautiful scenery, and sound engineers (as I was) blaming audiences for soaking the sparkle out of otherwise wonderful concert hall acoustics.
But we’re not really like that (come on fellow developers, back me up on this!) In fact, we’re at our happiest when we can make useful things happen for those people who have interesting problems to solve, but who can’t speak ‘machine’.
Planning our roadmap
So it is, that next week will be the best kind of fun (well…OK…the best kind of fun you’re likely to have whilst earning a living!) Every few months a group of colleagues and I get together to discuss our product roadmap. We bring as many ideas as we can muster – sometimes born of contact with customers eager for extras, sometimes the result of our own desires (we use our products in house, so we know the things we like, as well as those we’d love to improve). We have ideas in Chatter posts and brain-dumps tied together as Help Reading Lists and good old-fashioned Post-It note scribbles! We also monitor Help Interactions – and of course, have conversations at the proverbial water cooler to see what our wider in-house user community wants.
These blue-sky jamborees are a luxury we can only afford periodically: we’re all super busy (isn’t everyone these days?) So we schedule them as we reach the end of one product release cycle and approach the start of the next. It’s a chance to reflect on the conversations we’ve been privileged to share and the direction we think the smart market players should take.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans…
It would be easy to feel jaded, jumping straight into the next release cycle, no sooner than the last is finished. So, I think it’s wise for all of us, from time to time, to follow the advice of Max Ehrmann’s wonderful ‘Desiderata’. He wisely reminded us to “Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.” For us right now, that means our team here, at Improved Apps, can look back at what we’ve crafted into the soon to be shipped, new release of Improved Help.
So what’s new?
Highlights include automatic highlighting of recently amended content, Help Topic cloning, as well as an experimental ‘Signatures’ feature that allows organisations to define for themselves the parts of the screen they want to help, plus there’s the ability to export Improved Help content for Org to Org migration.
Dreaming the dream
We are mindful that all these innovations come into being through conversations with our customers and (at the risk of cliché) by us, as a team, continuing to dream.
Martin Little – Chief Technology Officer @ Improved Apps