How to start on a Program - Basic checklist to start work

What is a project?
A project is an effort with a start date and end date and have a definite end result.In case we are developing a software it will have a start date and an end date.It will also have a result that is the software designed.

What is a Program?
A program will have set of projects running to achieve a common business goal or objective.For example space program, railway development program.There will be multiple teams, projects and bodies working towards success of the program. When we take a program into hand what are the things we should start with?
The first thing to start with the program goal, the mission of the program.What are we trying to achieve here.In my case our aim was to reduce the number of calls to the help desk, by diverting the users to a self help portal.Similarly when you are given a program to manage, speak with the brass on what they are trying to achieve in this.

Once the mission is clear - what's next?
The next thing to search or collate is the stakeholder list.Who are involved at what level.Prepare a communication plan for the program.

What's next?
Now understand the process, the different elements of the effort. Take a knowledge transfer session from the other program managers and team.

Talk with the team
Once you are aware with the process and the efforts put in. Speak with the team and understand them, their problems, their strong points and areas for improvement. Sync with the team, in many cases you may not be in a position to interact with all of them, in these scenerios talk to their leads.

Start the good work
Now with these things you can start the good work.

How the dream came true?

I was in US working for Universal Music Group for their exciting video portal site.Guess the name V...E... yes you are right Vevo.I met the Vevo team, they were energetic and globally located.Team consists of people from US,UK, Japan etc. It was exciting to go to office each day and meet the young talent.

My responsibility was to provide a good user experience to the portal by consulting and expert advice.The show went well, i reached in my hotel Candlewood suites in New Jersy.I checked my e-mail and saw an e-mail from Unisys HR, offering me a Job in India, Bangalore as Program Manager for End User Services practice.

Wow, in an e-mail the dream came true and after few days I came to Bangalore.Yes the Vevo project went well, and my assignment with them got over and i travelled back to India.

So in this way i entered in Program Management, :-) well i have extensive experience in User Experience Design and software product design so it helped me get this job.Prior i had travelled abroad on multiple assignments. My blog on User Experience Design & usability

Top Social sites

Top Social Media Sites

This is a huge list of top social media sites, that are quite popular nowdays. I hope you are using few of them.If i have missed any, please send an e-mail or comment. I will be happy to add it.

NumWebsiteAlexaPage RankCategory
5stumbleupon.com1968Cool Content
10segnalo.com3387Italian Community
11blogcatalog.com5337Internet / Blogs
25care2.com2,2627Social Action
26dzone.com2,5416Web Design & Development
29activerain.com3,3005Real Estate
32balatarin.com3,6386Persian Digg Site
44showhype.com6,0605Web Design
45sphinn.com6,0926Internet Marketing
46showhype.com6,1895Web Design
48designfloat.com6,5785Web Design & Development
55swik.net8,1685Open Source news
60photoshoproadmap.com12,1215Graphics and Web Design
61smallbusinessbrief.com12,6964Internet Marketing and Business
64good-tutorials.com13,7096Web Design
65pixel2life.com13,8565Web Design & Development
66bmaccess.net14,1144Web Design and Graphics
73work.com21,5766Business & Work
74maple.nu21,9134Metal and Rock
76easybm.com23,4915Health & Medicine
77rnel.net23,6612Graphics and Web Design
82plime.com26,9665News Culture
87bookmark-manager.com32,2584Web Design & Development
92plugim.com40,2945Internet Marketing
94flashperfection.com42,9625Flash Design
98i89.us73,0454General 84,3214Graphics and Web Design

Top web forums that you should not miss

I was wondering to create a list of some of the top web forums. So this is the list for you.
It is ranked by Alexa

NumWebsiteAlexaPage RankCategory
6webhostingtalk.com1,4207Web Hosting
9talk.iwebtool.com2,2095Affiliate marketing
12forums.searchenginewatch.com2,6155Web Development
14namepros.com3,1907Web Development
16webmaster-talk.com37725Affiliate Marketing
18affiliates4u.com4,8504Affiliate marketing
23forum.abestweb.com6,5355Affiliate marketing
26associateprograms.com7,8456Affiliate marketing
28whydowork.com8,9905Affiliate marketing
29affiliate-marketing-forums.5staraffiliateprograms.com11,4154Affiliate marketing
33code4gold.com11,8093Affiliate marketing
37htmlforums.com15,0535Web Development
40freewebspace.net17,3366Web Hosting,6375Domains
42thefreeadforum.com17,7413Affiliate marketing
47forum.kahuki.com21,9803Web Development
52ewealth.com24,7173Affiliate marketing
59moneyfanclub.com30,3662Affiliate marketing
61talkfreelance.com35,0704Web Development
65clickbanksuccessforum.com47,4524Affiliate marketing
66affiliateprograms.com48,0954Affiliate marketing
68geekvillage.com52,4614SEO,3615Affiliate Marketing
70im4newbies.com57,7983Affiliate marketing
72netmarketingforum.com66,1382Affiliate Marketing
74getpaidforum.com72,5530Affiliate marketing
77helpingwebmasters.com831663Web Hosting
81webmasterwelt.net108,6392German Webmaster
84howtocorphelp.com161,0640Affiliate Marketing
87affearners.com221,1684Affiliate marketing
89hostingforum.ca430,9303Web Hosting
91mediaunivers.com129677053Portuguese Webmater Forum


LinkedIn - really bugs me every time

LinkedIn makes me sad sometimes. And i cannot help it. Can we all discuss this new screen on LinkedIn.

Have you noticed the screen that appears every time we login to LinkedIn.
It asks to enter the image text in the verification boxes. The SPAM control mechanism.

I guess this is for user authentication.
I don't see a need for this - well i see a need, if that is the case then all accounts should ask the same.

Can there be another way around this? Please suggest.

Top influencers of this Week - I am surprised

Today i was looking at my LinkedIn account. I am a group member on USER EXPERIENCE a prominent group on LinkedIn. I own other UX groups too, with around 200-300 memebrs. My other UX groups on LinkedIn are
1. Expert UX Consultants
2. User Experience Practitioners

Well thank you for the listing in Top influencers on LinkedIn. I appreciate all the support from other UX Consultants in the process.

Top 21 Best User Experience Videos on the internet

Here are some of the best UX videos i have collected. Enjoy them & it can become a source of inspiration

1. UX Week 2009 | Jesse James Garrett | Adaptive Path

UX Week 2009 | Jesse James Garrett | Adaptive Path from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.

2. UX best practices

3.Don Norman: The three ways that good design makes you happy

4. Don Norman: The three ways that good design makes you happy

UX Week 2009 | Jeffrey Veen | Adaptive Path from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.

5.UX Team Of One @ IA Summit 2008

6. Experience is the product

7. Robert Fabricant - Behavior is our Medium

Robert Fabricant - Behavior is our Medium from Interaction Design Association on Vimeo.

8.Web Form Design

Get Microsoft Silverlight

9. User Experience Design for Non-Designers

Get Microsoft Silverlight

10..The importance of identity and vision to UX designers on agile projects

11. Learning IxD From Everyday Objects

12. Wireframes for the Wicked

13. Design Prototyping: Bringing Wireframes to Life

Get Microsoft Silverlight

14. Journey To The Center Of Design

15. User Centered Design 101

16. UX Week 2009 | Aaron Forth | Adaptive Path

UX Week 2009 | Aaron Forth | Adaptive Path from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.

17. UX Week 2008 | Rachel Hinman | Adaptive Path

UX Week 2008 | Rachel Hinman | Adaptive Path from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.

18. NYC IxDA - Tap is the New Click - Dan Saffer

NYC IxDA - Tap is the New Click - Dan Saffer from Interaction Design Association on Vimeo.

19. 0/GUI

10/GUI from C. Miller on Vimeo.

20. Steve Krug on the least you can do about usability

21. Jason Fried of 37signals speaking at Business of Software 2008

21. UX Week 2008 | Don Norman | Adaptive Path

UX Week 2008 | Don Norman | Adaptive Path from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.

Enjoy the videos

Stop card eating by ATMs - JOIN US to make a change ?

I had the previliege to transact with multiple ATMs machine in different countries. I have done transactions in UK, USA, France and INDIA. I can say all the ATM machines are not equal. Some of them is so bad that you may land in trouble.

In India i transact with ICICI bank, SBI bank, Citi bank & HDFC bank. In UK i was with CITI bank & same in US too.

Now let me highlight why i hate few of these atms. I agree there are millions of users who feel the same.

I am starting a movement to request banks across the world to change the basic design of their ATMs. Join this page for change.


Type 1 : Few ATM machines have slots that needs to accept the cards inside. Once you put the card in the slot, the machine takes the card inside. It reads the card in and after transaction it pops up the card out.


Type 2: In this type of ATM, we need to insert the card in the slot and pull it out.The machine does not take the card in. Basically it is a swipe, that the user does when he puts the card in the slot and pulls it out.


Type 1 machine should be removed out. I like type 2 machines as there is no chance that your card will be eaten by the ATM. Show your support to the above idea and need.It is a user need and Banks must listen to it.

Join this page and create awareness – it may help you and in a critical situation when your Cab driver is waiting for the payment and you are doing a transaction.At this time it would be hell if your card is eaten by the ATM.This situation was suggested by my close friend Sankar while having dinner & beer. :-)

Join it, it will change life.

Tools to create e-Commerce on your site

Is e-commerce a costly affair to implement on your site. I thought that it will be a costly affair however it is not. The solution i am suggesting can be used by small sites for individual products and services online.

The solution can be used by 

1. Artists 

2. Designers 

3. Painters 

4. Consultants 

Ok let me tell the solution, it is PayPal. Let me help you how to use it.

Step 1: First go to the paypal site.

There you need to create an account. 

Step 2:Add the bank account to the account. This process is simple, you need to provide your bank account. Paypal will deposit some money in your account. You need to login in your account and enter the deposited amount in paypal site.

Step 3: Click on Merchant services in paypal. Under key features you can find “Paypal shopping cart”, click on it.


Step 4: The page will take you to create a paypal button.On this page you have to work upon 3 steps, they are below


Step 5: Work on step 1

image .  

Step 6: Work on step 2


Step 7: Work on the final step 3


Step 8: Insert the Button code in the shopping page. Your buyers can pay via credit card or with their paypal accounts. If you face any issue please write an e-mail to me.

Best tool to move blogs from Wordpress to Blogger

I was thinking a way to move my wordpress blog to Blogger. I did simple goolge reserch and finally found the ultimate solution to do it.

Here is the online tool to do it.

How to work as a Consultant - sharing my first experience

Let me tell you the experience that i came through when i was in the shoes of a consultant the first time. I was at the age of 20 when i got my first client. It was a very short project. My dad worked in a govt. organization and he had good terms with his boss. That means i got the project because of contacts. In service business contacts helps you a lot. One client refers you to the next one and next one refers you to the other next.

Business problem:

My dad's office was looking to create a govt. report. The report will include his office efforts in safe gaurding office buildings from fire hazards. Recentely a govt. building caught fire in another state, so the head office was seeking the steps my dad's organization was doing aganist fire hazards.



The solution was to create building drawing of all the buildings and indicate where are the fire exits, where are the fire stations and other fire fighting instructions located in the buildings. My work was to finalize the fire locations, the fire exits in the buildings and depict in building drawing of the complete 3 buildings which were having 2 floors each. The image of the building is shown above. Although all the three buildings are nor captured in the photo, but it will get you the view how much work was involved. Wondering how was i able to create building drawings, well i am a B.E in Civil enginneering. :-)

Lessons learned in the process.

Stakeholder: Maintain the list of the stakeholder & there expectations from the assignment. What they are looking from you. It can be done by talking with them, meeting with them.

Deliverable: The deliverables were 7 building drawing sheets.

Timeline: Make sure you deliver in time. Set the expectations right first hand and deliver on time.

Fees/Cost: Let them know how much it will cost them for your service.Agree on the price & the payment modes. Whether you want it lump sum amount, Time and material or any other convienent method you both mutually agreed upon.

Deliverable options: If you can provide two options to choose, for the stakeholders it would be great. When we provide options to the cusotmer to choose from then they feel they are in control and repsond more positively.

Walkthrough: Provide a walkthorugh of your work, make them understand your point. Sell your work & move to the payment options.

Well i told you the major chunks of a consultant works. I agree there are many other things that goes in to this profession. Hope this post will ignite sparks to pursue this type of work and make some real money in this business.

User persona images - Use them for free

In our design process, we make sure we create user persona's and get the requirements right the first time. What is the point when user's are not using the design that is made for them. All the money the hard work goes in the drain if product are not used by users.

You are right i am taking about the satisfaction aspect of the design. The other elements are

Here are the free images.

Learnability:How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they re establish proficiency?
Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors? 

To make sure that the design meets the user needs user persona is created. I suggest the images used in the persona creation speaks a lot. Using good images in persona creation can take you a long way. We have uploaded some of the images we used in our persona creation. Use these images and modify it according to your needs.

Happy birth day photoshop

Guys! Did you forgot to wish photoshop on it's 20th birthday. Yes now you can wish photoshop.

Check out photoshop page on facebook. 


You can also create a greeting card and get a chance to win a copy of photoshop.

Free project managment software

Today you got promoted to a project manager, and you do not have microsoft project on your laptop. Microsoft project will cost you money and it may take some time for you to get one. So what are the alternatives to get a project management software that will be able to process .mpp files send to you.

I was looking for this answer and i got the solution to this problem.

OpenProj : OpenProj is a free, open source desktop alternative to Microsoft Project. OpenProj has been downloaded over 1,250,000 times in over 142 countries and has quickly become one of the most popular open source applications. If you are managing a group project we recommend Projects On Demand. If you want a free replacement to commercial desktop software, then OpenProj is perfect. OpenProj is also now included with Star Office in Europe. It's available on Linux, Unix, Mac or Windows, and it's free.


Now download it with a big smile.

Download openproj

How to design a user form

User form - you must have seen them and i am sure you have filled them one time or the other. If not online on a website then i bet you must have filled them in front of the shopping mall or applying for a new bank account or new credit card. User forms are a convenient way to capture and grab the user details and there needs. Forms are used when business does not have the time to spend individual man hours with each costumers, when similar type of information needs to be collected from the user's.

In this article i will help you create a form keeping in mind the business perspective. I will see that the usability is take care at a high level, to take care of usability of the form i will write another article. Loading so much information in one is not good - as INFORMATION OVERLOAD or human memory 6+-2 concepts in User experience design.

Business need: As i told earlier that the need for form comes into picture when the business feels that they are not in a position to apply 1 on 1 human resource to capture the details from its costumers. Business can either request its user to fill the forms online or offline.

As a designer how would you go for the form design for a particular process? Think on this question and it will lead you to conduct a FOCUS group or a meeting with the business process owner to understand the flow of the information that will be collected using the forms. Now let us create a step by step process to get the FROM right as per the business need.


Step 1: Understand the business need

Step a meeting with the SME (Subject matter expert) who is working on the process for which the form creation is requested. You can write an e-mail setting up the business context and the questions which will help you to gain more information. A sample e-mail would look like this.


Business context: We are planning to create a new form for your XYZ process. This form will be available online where users can fill it. This information will be collected by your department and processed.


1. What is the key peice of information that is importnat for your departemnt to process the requests

2. What information are not mandatory

3. Define the whole process by taking a sample example. The complete methodology would be helpful.


Step 2: Business Scenarios definition

The business scenario needs to be understood, as the form that will be created should be able to suffice all the possible business scenarios.

Step 3: Form flow

Give value to the form flow, what sections of the form should come first and how the information flow should be there. Give emphasis on the hierarchy of the sections.

Key take aways for usability

I will be writing a separate article on form usability. I would like to suggest some key pointers that will make the form usable and take care of major usability issues.

1. Information grouping : Group the information in larger chunks, for example when you are asking the users about his details we can have these sections

> Tell us about yourself - name, age, gender

> What u do - profession

> Where do u live - address, street, ZIP, state country etc

> What u like - reading, playing etc

2. Make it a talk show: Use phrases that seems like a person is asking these questions to the users. Above the personal information - TELL US MORE ABOUT YOURSELF etc will increase the intrest level of user's.

3.Pagination: Use pagination if the form is too long.

4. Progress bar at top will help a lot if the form is long.

I think my purpose is solved here, to emphasis on the point that the form should match the business flow not vice versa. The information collected by the forms should be used by the business. If business does not need it, avoid including that field in the forms.

Best word press e-commerce theme - WP store

We were looking for a wordpress e-commerce theme to host the media company we are working on. The game design head in hyederabd -INDIA wanted a solution that is easy to work upon. I suggested him a e-commerce site to sell the products and services. Users can see the different product details and if they want they can use the shopping cart and buy it online. Oh what a cool idea. Now we wanted to host this app on Wordpress with minimum efforts and time. Of course it took us some time to tweak it. You can download WP store from here.

HTC 8525 - Best mobile ever

Best mobile ever

Social Media Revolution

This video is good to explain the social media revolution.

Best Video on User Experience Design - Google

This is the best video that i feel on user experience design. Enjoy!

Essential Tabs in excel Reports

In my job, there are multiple calls weekly with the stakeholders. The most common agenda in the con calls are report discussion and various tasks progress. I have been looking at different excel reports, and i can sense the reports are extracted from huge bigger excel sheets with a lot of raw data.

The whole idea of this blog, it to make you aware that in any report you send to the customer there should be these 3 tabs in the excel, without which you will make the report less impactful. One more important thing it to include the name of the parameters in X & Y axis. The report should be easy to understand by its audience.


The key tabs, that are essential are

Tab 1. Methodology - this tab should have the assumption/hypothesis along with the step by step description of the steps that were taken to generate the report.

Tab 2. Findings -this excel tab should have the Findings and Inference of the report. A good suggestive graphs should be there to make the audience understand the reports.

Tab 3. Comparison - this tab should show the actual numbers that were used to generate the graphs.

I hope that these 3 tabs you will always include in your reports.

Manager's please learn PIVOT in excel

Some days back, i got a huge excel sheet with many columns and rows of data. The program manager in US requested analysis of the excel sheet and come up with a methodology. I went to the SDM(Service delivery manager) and had a word with him. I learned some cool tricks in excel that i am eager to share with you all. I feel that all mangers should give a try to learn PIVOT in excel.

pivot 3


I will highlight how to work with pivot.

Step 1: Open the excel sheet on which you want to work on.

Step 2: Select all the data from the excel.

Step 3: Open INSERT tab, and click on PIVOT.Click on “insert” tab and select “Pivot table”. The path will be

Insert >> Pivot Table >> Pivot Table.Create PivotTable pop up screen will be displayed as shown in the screen capture below. Click on the OK button.pivot

Step 4: Another sheet will be displayed, as shown below. Pivot table field list will be also present on the right hand side of the window. Select the column that you want to sort out. 

pivot 3 

Step 5:Similarly select other two parameters. We can adjust the placement of these parameters in the 4 boxes that is present in the top screen. Drag and drop the parameters to generate the report.

I think this is a small step towards PIVOT in excel. Move on with PIVOT, it is really helpful to prepare and analyze data.