Monday 30 April 2012

Empowering users to create and manage content (using TeamMentor)

After our InfoSec adventure, Tom Bain (@tmbainjr1) from SI has started blogging about his experiences in actually using TeamMentor (vs finding a way to market it :) )

His first post I'm not a developer but I play one on TV... shows that the 'make it simple to use approach' that we tool with the latest version of TeamMentor is starting to work.

Tom is not a programmer, but he is a power-user, which means that once he gets how to do something, he is able to run with it.

So my approach was to create a couple XML files that :

  • were easy to update, 
  • had immediate feeedback on changes,  and 
  • looked good

Here is what these pages looks like:

If you look at the source code of those pages (view-source: you will see the XML that Tom is editing (pretty clean right :)  )

Note the XSL reference at the top which points to this XSL content: view-source:  (again managed by TeamMentor and online editable)

It is worth mentioning that I did try to get Tom to edit this page using a WYSIWYG client app that he installed on his local box, and it was a nightmare. The formatting started to go wrong, there was not easy way to preview the final solution, etc...

What is even more interesting is what happened after the first couple edits. Tom started to become comfortable with the user interface, and focused on the content + user experience.

We start talking about 'What should be user experience on this page? , 'What should the links and buttons do?' , 'How to we best communicate our ideas?'

And since he was able to quickly try things out, our productivity (me in London and he in Boston) was really high. Not to mention that Tom really enjoyed the experience (he was in control) and feels empowered to make more changes.