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The New Fido Apps – Zimbra 8 User Interface: The Changes That You Don’t See

Zimbra users will notice major changes to the user interface in Zimbra 8. What you cannot see is the ‘behind the scenes’ work that went into those changes.  Zimbra 8 reflects process and methodology changes that will improve the user experience not only in Zimbra 8 but all releases moving forward.

 

Usability doesn’t just happen

Until now, the Zimbra user interface has been an organic byproduct of how features were added.  And as each new version added more great features, the user interface started to become cluttered.

Simplicity is hard to add incrementally. But starting with Zimbra 8, a dedicated user experience team has focused on the user experience. They’ve created a set of processes to improve usability for all new releases.

 

A usability baseline

The team started by creating a baseline for Zimbra 7 using formalized usability testing.  They looked for tasks where they could save people time or make things easier. For example, tasks that you perform infrequently – such as setting an out-of-office message when you go on vacation – can be difficult to remember how to do for those of us who don’t take many vacations.  We’ve made this easier in Zimbra 8 by creating a dedicated out-of-office preference, reducing the number of steps to set up an out-of-office message.

 

Usability bugs

To elevate usability as an ongoing issue, we defined a class of Usability bugs in Bugzilla, which we will use to track usability issues through releases.  This is great for reaching out to the IT leads, but it still left the problem of communicating with those who don’t use Bugzilla.

 

Reaching out to user communities

To get to those non-IT people, the UI team started actively seeking out power users. For example, the team interviewed executive assistants who schedule a lot of meetings and they found a way to streamline the scheduling of times and resources like conference rooms – that’s another improvement in Zimbra 8.

 

Visual simplification

The UI team redesigned the interface to eliminate clutter, making it easy to find the most important functions.  They moved many secondary functions from buttons to menus.

Zimbra before…

Zimbra after…

Original posting by Josh Johnson

Fido.Net’s team of experienced engineers and management have been working in the internet industry since its inception in the UK back in 1992. Jon Morby, the founder and owner of Fido.Net originally started in IT as far back as 1982, and was one of the UK (and Europe’s) main importers of both email and echomail for the fidonet network of amateur bulletin boards, running the fidonet.org Internet gateway from 1985 through to 1994. Jon Morby - founder of Fido.Net. Although enjoying a successful career in Stock Broking working out of the Birmingham Stock Exchange, Jon felt the real future was in the Internet; and after some persuasion by Demon’s then Managing Director Cliff Stanford, Jon joined Demon Internet Ltd, initially responsible for their Birmingham Point of Presence (PoP) from 1993 to 1995 and then moving to London to supervise Demon’s growing technical support team. By the time Jon finally left Demon in January 2000 he was their Advanced Technologies Manager responsible for managing the development and implementation of the next generation systems which Scottish Telecom (now Thus PLC) and Demon would be rolling out over the next 3-5 years – a far cry from his original days running a support desk of 5 staff! Fido.Net’s senior staff have had a grounding in the Internet with the majority of them having worked for ISP’s such as Demon Internet, EasyNet and other main stream UK Service Providers, as well as some of the first large Internet Portals (including online trading experts The Interactive Investor, and the not so successful boo.com).

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