Archive for November, 2009

“…BY EXAMPLE”

November 12, 2009

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We had a Web Development Leaders Weekend Retreat this fall and it went great.  The guys headed down there Friday after lunch, for a weekend of team building, leadership training, male bonding, and some chillin’ n’ grillin’…  Oh and there was some golfing too!  Can you say FORE?!  The retreat was also to give a big “thank you” to the leaders for working so hard on the new site and to show them how much we appreciate their willingness to serve the team in so many ways.

the-five-dysfunctions-of-a-teamDuring the retreat the guys discussed the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, and took the team assessment associated with the book.  After they reviewed their survey results, the team went over what they could work on improving as everyone was given a voice to share their ideas and opinions.  Later on in the weekend they also discussed vision and plans for the future.

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Friday night, the guys barbecued some hamburgers and hot dogs and just had a good time hanging out with each other.  That night, Jon gave the guys a special gift he purchased for the team of an engraved picture frame for each of the team leaders that had a group shot of the guys in it and had engraved “…BY EXAMPLE” on the bottom half of the frame.  This phrase is a model these guys go by to remember to lead their teams “by example.” With the frame also came hand-written notes to the team leaders from their team members.  I believe it was a great boost for their relaxing weekend to hear how much they were appreciated from the teams they lead.

Saturday morning they headed to Blackberry Ridge Golf Course and played 9 holes!  They had a total blast!  Some had never golfed before so it was a fun experience for all.

Sounds like the trip was a success!  Thanks goes to God that we are we able to do what we do everyday!  Each day is a gift and to be cherished.

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Bflex/Bfusion 09

November 12, 2009

Nine of our team members went to Bloomington, Indiana for the 2009 Bfusion/Bflex Conference.  Here is some of their feedback about their awesome experience!

“BFusion/BFlex 09 was an opportunity for me to get the latest on the technologies we use daily. It’s inspiring and motivating to be around folks who are passionate about those technologies. This was a fun conference; Bloomington’s a nice town, and the facility at Indiana University was first-rate.”  – Ron Coffman | Web Marketing Developer

“I think the BFlex/BFusion conference was a great opportunity to learn from others who are doing some really cool stuff with ColdFusion and Flex.  This included coding best practices, latest server stack solutions, options for MVC frameworks, performance tuning points, and integration suites.  It also gave our team the ability to connect with some developers who can give us expertise as we move forward with some of our new projects in the next year.”   – Jim Ebert | Team Lead – ELP Web Development

“It was good conference. I learned a few new things and got to see some of the stuff other people in our industry are doing.” – Jon Fouss | ELP Web Developer

“The conference was very worthwhile. My favorite was the Mach-II 1.8 session with Peter Farrell, Kurt Wiersma, and Matt Woodward. Even though we have been using Mach-II 1.8 for several months, they shared very helpful things that will directly improve our applications. That session alone was worth the trip. My favorite Flex session was on Practical Cairngorm by T. Scot Clausing. Not only did he do a great job of showing how Cairngorm can improve project organization and productivity, he showed a very clean overall project structure and also took time to answer questions.” – Doug Smith | ELP Web Developer

“Bfusion/Bflex was a good event, well worth attending. It is very much focused on “hands-on” learning.  The facility at IU was fantastic.  They had some registration problems that contributed to low attendance. I think next year they will have it ironed out and I would definately attend again next year.” –Jason York | FPU Church Web Programmer

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User Error + QBQ → User Interface Error

November 7, 2009

About once a day, I sift through our aggregated Web server error messages.  My usual sorting goes something like “this needs to be addressed, that one is novel, this one is my personal test and can be ignored.”  Usually there’s at least one issue where my first reaction is “Oh, that’s just user error.”

One particular error kept coming up from our internal users to the point that it became a nuisance, and I cried out “Why can’t they get that right?!” Immediately, I was convicted by what I had read in QBQ: The Question Behind the Question (a must-read for the Dave Ramsey team).  That wasn’t a ‘QBQ’ question. What can I do so that my internal users will get that right? In this case, a drop-down list contained an invalid option entitled “Select an Option”   The solution was obvious, remove the invalid option and enhance the then-arcane validation message. This process can be generalized to the following:

User Error + QBQ → User Interface Error

Don’t get me wrong, some times a user behavior is just too bizarre to code around it.  (The customer isn’t always right.) Sometimes a customer just needs some education.  The point is that as the solution developer, I’m responsible (at least in part) for my end-users’ actions. It is neglect of this truth that yields the bad reputation programmers get for their people skills.

Let’s do better. The next time you’re faced with a “PEBKAC” (Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Computer) error, before you write it off as ID-10-T, consider the UI or the UX or the messaging or the training. You’ll ultimately wind up with a better product.  Who knows, maybe you’ll even create documentation.