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Integrating community and the development process

Last week i visited the Portland User Group; to participate in their “My favorite Visual” sessions and i brought  one of the Power BI Design Researchers, Jeremy Barksdale, to walk through three features we are considering building. In this interaction we had all the user group members sign NDAs and walked them through the following:

  • The proposed implementation (via a storyboard…remember no code has been written yet)
  • The names we are considering for the features.
  • Discuss what the user group members thought the feature would do. 
  • How the user group members thought they would use these features. 
  • Lastly describe what we envisioned the usage would be/do.

(Below you can see Jeremy walking through the proposed implementation.  No that is NOT Power BI but rather a Storyboard created in PowerPoint! –yes i realize you can not see the features in that screenshot<g>)

UX.PNG

 

While I have participated in a LOTs of SDRs (software design reviews); this still marked a couple of firsts for me:

  1. It was my first Power BI feature review.
  2. It was the first time we had co-opted an entire user group for a feature review. 

Since these features are still in their planning stage and may not make it into the product i will use some made up feature names: 

  • splets
  • splorps
  • splands

It was very interesting to see the reactions for the different features…and yes the reactions were VERY different.

For splets much of the user group had similar reaction:

Of course, “Splets” should be called that, and i know exactly how/where i will use them”

Imagine the moral equivalent of adding a spell checker to a word process<grin>.  Must admit the reaction was almost anti-climatic!

 

For splorps the entire user group had the universal look of:

“Huh?”

The members were unclear how they would use it and the name was clearly overloaded.  Luckily this was confirmation Jeremy had expected and had already planned revisions with the feature owner.

 

Splands was the most exciting for a couple of different reasons.  Rather than a bland “of course” reaction, about half the group lit up with:

“I WANT “SPLANDS” NOW!!!!!!!!!”

Imagine showing a motor head a new type of supercharger!  Even attendees that didn’t express this violent reaction understood where it be used and how they would take advantage of it.   The difficulty came from the name. The name Jeremy had used in the storyboard resonated with the data scientists in the room…but for people like me with a physical science background ( I studied Marine Biology) it was not a term we “got”….and the name we would have used the data scientists didn’t “get”…Oh well I am sure Jeremy and the design team will figure it out!

 

We ended the session with a vote on which feature the members would use the most…and as you can see in the image below the room was pretty evenly split for Splands and Splets (we removed Splorgs from the vote).

Must admit while i have been to a lot of user group meetings; this one was one of the most satisfying, being able to integrate the attendees into the development process and integrating their opinions into the next set of Power BI features.   In terms of value back to the attendees, it was pretty cool to share with the attendees how Microsoft uses Storyboard to avoid rework, convey requirements AND get feedback!

 

UX1.PNG

Big thanks to the Portland Power BI User Group for letting us steal 30 minutes of their meeting!