There’s a lot of excitement lately about wikis. Wikis are an amazing tool, but the hype can lead some to think that simply installing a wiki and letting people do what they want with it will be effective. I fell for the hype and installed a wiki for my team to use. But my wiki was ignored by pretty much everyone, and fell into disuse. Recently, I relaunched the wiki concept within my team, this time successfully. What changed?
Usability testing is no longer something that happens in an expensive lab. Digital webcams and screen-recording software have made it possible to do usability testing with almost zero infrastructure (using software like morae, which essentially replaces a conventional usability lab). Joel Spolsky has written a nice article describing the experience the copilots had usability testing their latest product.
But conventional wisdom still says that usability something is to be done by specialists, as a structured project that generates a report. While this is often a good idea, it’s not always the right approach, for the following reasons:
Skype journal published a nice roundup of the best skype plugins. Pamela (an anwering machine / recording plugin) tops the list. Video4IM (a video conferencing utility) and Jyve (a call forwarding / presence engine) are also mentioned. But the biggest surprise is Jybe, a browser-sharing application. Given that you can open MS Office documents inside your browser, this could be an extremely powerful piece of collaboration software that gives companies like Sabeer Bhatia’s InstaColl a run for their money.
Looks like video conferencing and screensharing technologies are only getting better. Cool!
Robin Good has an excellent presentation about free / low-cost collaboration tools. He frames them as “Grassroots collaboration tools“, in opposition to “Enterprise Collaboration Tools” like Webex that have been around for years. He sees the primary value of these tools being price, features, and usability (i.e. usable by non-technical people). Anyone interested in the space should watch the presentation…it’s that good.
Below is a list of the product categories and products in the “GrassRoots Collaboration Tools” space. Most of the tools are from Robin’s presentation, with edits and additions by me. This list will change over time as new tools come to market.. feel free to suggest options that are missing from the list in the comments section below.