Openbravo's User Experience Lab
GUI design, ERP Usability and Visual Design

What And How Do You Search?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

This question is so essential that it feels like asking you to describe how to make coffee. We have confidence in the best practices of coffee making but we would like to study your search behaviour when using ERP software. This will help us understand the problems and needs you have which will serve as input for a redesign of the search functionality.

This is the first part of a series of User Feedback Opportunities (UFOs) on Search & Filter. I do not want to throw lengthy surveys at you in this stage but wish to start an open discussion on this topic to get a high level understanding of your main search tasks. To facilitate the discussion, I have created four high level questions below with each four ideas to get you started. Later on, I will start showing you design concepts.

When replying please start commenting each idea with a rating: Very Unimportant, Unimportant, Neutral, Important, Very Important and try to vary (you shouldn't rate everything Very Important). This session wants to generate discussion so please type away: all ideas and feedback are more than welcome. Please note that many tasks become routine over time. This applies to coffee making but also to using ERP systems, so try to step away from what you currently do and focus on how you would like to do it.

A. Types of objects I search for

1. Records (such as business partners, products, invoices). And which identifier would be easiest to use in searching them?
2. Reports. And which identifier would be easiest to use in searching them?
3. Functionality in the application, such as items in the left navigation in Openbravo ERP.
4. A mixed bag of objects in- and outside my ERP system: records, reports, invoices, documents (even locally stored), the web, the CRM system, email, intranet.
5. Other, please describe

B. How I would like to search

1. Using one keyword field. When there are too many results, I would use additional filters to narrow down the result set.
2. Searching records “globally” across all tables. I would not have to go first to a Products view to search for a product but I could do it from anywhere.
3. Building complex QBE/SQL based queries to get an exact search result in one go.
4. Browsing the grid by scrolling through the records and optionally applying column filters.
5. Other, please describe

C. How often I execute recurring search tasks

1. I frequently execute the same searches again and again
2. I would like to be able to save search queries or have the system suggest queries to me that I frequently use.
3. I frequently work with the same objects (such as records) again and again
4. I would like to use certain views again for my search results, such as a grid with specific column order, visibility and filtering applied to it.
5. Other, please describe

D. What I would like to do with the search results

1. I would like to be able collect objects out of different search result sets and group them, for example by customer.
2. I would like to be able to compare objects.
3. I would like to be able to bookmark individual objects
4. I would like to be able to bookmark all objects in the search results
5. Other, please describe

Note: When we speak about “I”, we mean you or your customers. Feel free to forward this post to your customers.

Participate in this discussion now on the Openbravo UX Lab forum.


Welcome to the Openbravo User Experience Lab

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Let me introduce myself and the Openbravo UX Lab forum. My name is Rob Goris and I joined Openbravo recently in the role of User Experience Architect. This is a new position at Openbravo and this appointment is a clear sign that the company wants to move towards User Centered Design.

So what is User Experience (UX) and how can we, together, create a world class user experience for our product? UX is defined as the creation of the architecture and interaction models which impact a user's perception of a system and is an umbrella term for the following activities:

  • Information architecture: conceptual structure and logical organization of information; think navigation, taxonomy, findability
  • Interaction design: high level design of the application, flows and pages; think wireframes and design concepts
  • Usability engineering: usability testing, focus groups, heuristic evaluations, questionnaires, essentially everything needed to understand the users and involve them in the design process.
  • Visual design: the look and feel of the application that includes the page layout, composition, graphics, icons, use of colors, typography
UX can never be done in isolation and that's why we need your voice. You are the ones using our products every day to keep your businesses going and I am sure you have great feedback as to how we can improve usability. This post is an invitation for all of you to share user pain and ideas related to the GUI and usability. I am here to convert your voice into a more user-friendly product.

Occasionally, will also reach out to test new ideas or designs and will ask for your opinions. Open source software is User Feedback Heaven as there is direct access to a large community that shares the common goal of building a world class ERP software.

Welcome to the Openbravo UX Lab forum. I am looking forward to all your feedback. Make sure to speak up!

I can also be reached by email: rob dot goris at openbravo dot com.

Comic courtesy of OK/Cancel
(Click to enlarge)