Final Spurt for 2010 on the SAP Design Guild

By Gerd Waloszek, SAP User Experience, SAP AG – December 10, 2010

Gerd Waloszek As 2010 draws to a close, the SAP Design Guild Website publishes a small wave of articles for its 10th Anniversary Edition. "Small wave" indicates that we did not reach our maximum goal of finishing the edition in 2010. We already expected this outcome and promised to celebrate the anniversary for a whole year. Thus, as the Website went live in April 2000, we will extend the publishing period to the end of March, 2011. Nonetheless, we have been productive in recent weeks and hope to add no fewer than four new articles to the edition before the holiday season starts – and as we have published three of them already, we are almost on target.

In the following, I would like to touch briefly on the challenges we faced with the anniversary edition in the summer, spend a few words on the newly published articles, and provide a brief outlook on the 10th Anniversary Edition in 2011. Then I will take the opportunity to direct your attention to a new section on the SAP Design Guild, the UI Design Blinks, which has not been covered in an editorial yet. I will close this editorial with a glimpse at the first ideas for the SAP Design Guild Website in 2011.


The 10th Anniversary Edition in 2010 and 2011

A Summer Slump?

The initial 10th Anniversary Edition of the SAP Design Guild was published in March 2010. As we have announced several times, this edition is not only special in that it celebrates the 10th anniversary of our Website, which is a major feat in itself in the Internet age, but also in that it was conceived as a cumulative edition, with new articles being added in the course of the anniversary year. As already mentioned, more optimistic forecasts expected a sufficient number of articles have been published by the end of 2010. However, reality soon caught up with us, and there was a long period of editorial silence – not on the site itself, as a quick look at the site news demonstrates, but in the edition: Spring and summer time restricted our own writing resources in many ways, except for a review of the book Design is the Problem (Nathan Shedroff). Luckily, we had authors from outside and inside SAP who contributed articles to the Website, particularly book reviews, during that period. Only since October have we been able to become more productive again. However, before we could devote resources to the edition itself, these had to be allocated to other long overdue articles such as the DIS 2010 conference report (Aarhus, Denmark) and two book reviews, Designing with the Mind in Mind (Jeff Johnson) and Analyzing Social Media with NodeXL, (Derek Hansen, Ben Shneiderman, and Marc Smith) that had queued up in our pipeline for a long time. It should also be noted that book reviews imply that the books have to be read before they can be reviewed.

Picking up the Pace

Luckily, we could convince Urte Thoelke to contribute an article from the accessibility or better, universal design, field to the edition. In her article Harmonization of International Standards and Guidelines as a Basis for the Inclusion of Everyone, she writes about the "vision for the future that everyone should be able to buy a product and use it anywhere in the world without having to rely on adapters, regional product specifications, or different types of assistive technologies."

Different adapters for power plugs

Figure 1: Different adapters for power plugs (from the harmonization article)

I published two more articles at the beginning of December 2010. Both were inspired by past and ongoing activities at SAP and are devoted to the topics "sustainability" and "enhancing clarity through design." The first article discusses sustainability activities at SAP and looks, among other things, for a framework, in which sustainability activities can be ranged. The second article approaches clarity from a UI design point of view and comes to the – not surprising – conclusion that good design is the way to fight confusion and thus achieve clarity. The fourth and the final article in this "publication wave," also written by me, will discuss design for the elderly and be written from a personal point of view: As I am in my sixties now, I feel like I live in a "nowhere land" between the young and the very old with their respective interests and needs.

DIS 2010 carpet

Figure 2: DIS 2010 carpet (from DIS 2010 report)

A closer look at the topics that we originally suggested (or planned) for the edition revealed that our article agenda was too ambitious. Therefore, we deleted these proposals from the table of content in order not to raise expectations too much. Many of the proposals were devoted to current trends in the UI design and UX field. Typically, they were inspired by visits to conferences at which these topics had been discussed in various forms – keynotes, papers, or demos. At the moment, our perspective has changed somewhat. We still try to look at "hot" topics, but at least in part we also try to find some connection to SAP, the company which has supported this Website for more than ten years, and of which SAP User Experience is an integral part. For the remaining articles in the edition, we will go where inspiration takes us, and pick what seems interesting and resonates with us...

What is Planned for the 10th Anniversary Edition in 2011?

So, if you ask what is planned for the 10th Anniversary Edition in 2011, I would have to agree that this is a valid question. But I also have to admit that we do not have a clue, apart from that we plan to add three more articles to the edition. The edition would then have ten articles – one for each year of the SAP Design Guild, so to speak. However, we wouldn't object to having one or two articles more. Not knowing also has its advantages: We do not have to stick to the topics we have promised, we can keep our visitors in suspense, they can let their imaginations run wild, and we can surprise them with our final choice of articles.


UI Design Blinks

Now I would like to switch to another topic. You will probably have noticed that we opened a new column in the Community section, the UI Design Blinks, consisting of short, blog-like articles, which are planned to appear about every two weeks and thus are our fastest publishing channel at the moment. Please do not take this schedule too seriously – there will definitely be large random variations in publishing speed.

Figure 3: My "explanation" of the boomerang effect in the UI Design Blinks

The UI Design Blinks were already announced in our newsletter, and in the meantime we have published more than half a dozen of them. They may focus too much on data presentation at the moment, but this will definitely change soon. Hopefully, I will not run out of steam too quickly in 2011, and will be able to maintain the promised publishing speed.


A Brief Outlook for 2011

In our new SAP UX communication team, we are working on a communication strategy for 2011, the details of which have not been worked out yet. Therefore, it is too early, to roll out any definite plans for 2011. Two items are, however, already under consideration: First, there are thoughts (but no firm commitments) on updating our accessibility edition with more recent information. Secondly, and I already hinted at this in my sustainability article, we are considering supporting the DUXU '11 sustainability session that will be organized by SAP UX colleagues. Support means that we plan to publish articles about this topic and – provided that there are a sufficient number of articles – will collect them in a highlight topic about sustainability. Furthermore, we will accompany SAP UX's 2011 sponsoring and event activities with photo or in-depth reports as usual.


Final Word

At the end of my editorial, I would like to once again take the opportunity to thank our Website visitors for accompanying the SAP Design Guild Website for so many years. I sincerely hope that you will also stay with us in 2011.





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