( For those that missed it, I posted a last minute discussion on the form factor of tablets on Thanksgiving. Go take a look if you get a chance. )
A couple of weeks ago, we talked about platform standards. While there was some debate over how much or how little we should use standards, there seemed to be little debate over the fact that Lotus Notes sucks.
What’s interesting is that I have been forced to use Notes by one organization or another since version 4.6. I now use Notes 6 and find the interface more slick and shiny. Some of the usability issues have definitely been improved upon. Folder management, for example, can finally be handled (gasp) directly in the folder view. Contrast to that, Notes still uses the ambiguous icons in their “properties” windows. In addition, the window has no obvious action for confirming the changes made to the window. There are no OK and Cancel buttons! Blasphemous!
IBM and Lotus are illustrating a very classic example of why usability is important up front. Going on the assumption that Lotus wants to improve the usability of their flagship product, they face a catch-22 situation. On one hand, they’d love to dispel the “Notes sucks” perceptions and in doing so, gain some new users. On the other hand, those who finally managed to learn the program have gone through the pain of learning the quirks and changing the interface would frustrate these veterans.
Since I’m busy relaxing during Thanksgiving, I’ve got time for just one anecdote about Notes. When I worked with KC I did a decent amount of consulting, so being on the road I would oftentimes use the Notes Web Client. Back then it used to try to load all your mail at once and render them on one LONG page. Well if you have a couple thousand mails, then we are talking maybe 20,000-50,000 table cells to render. Only Internet Explorer could actually do this and it took about 20 minutes.
I couldn’t help but wonder whether anyone at Notes had ever tried to use this on any realistic data set? Even with a couple hundred mails it would be super sluggish. I mean we’re not talking about rocket science, just start up the web client and point it at your real email account.
Anyway, after some time they did eventually fix this - making it paginated. The interface was still suboptimal, but I remember being overjoyed that I could check my mail in less than 20 minutes! Score one for customer delight.
I figured I would post this since it is tangentially related to Notes. I just started reading Ray Ozzie’s blog. He is the original architect of Notes, and now works at Groove. Smart dude. In classic blog style I will just provide this link, this short comment, and leave you nothing more.