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Web Design Influences on Classic Notes Client Applications

By Andrew Pollack on 02/23/2009 at 10:57 PM EST

I spent the day working on a classic Notes Client application. It wasn't anything overly complex -- just a few views and forms, some action buttons and agents. Fortunately for me, UI design wasn't a priority on this. Its a single use case tool for one site-admin person to use as a time saver for an otherwise onerous task.

One thing I did notice, however, was that the expectation we have of the way things look and work has changed pretty drastically. We've learned to ignore the "frame" and focus on the content area of the application instead. That brings new challenges to classic Notes applications. Action buttons, a really innovative addition when they were added, now seem out of place and tucked away as part of the framing application rather than the content. A simple view by itself is almost impossible to make look right in current context -- you almost have to embed it on a page even though that tends to loose screen real estate.

I curious as to how many of you UI focused people have run into this kind of cross-contamination of design paradigms. Have you changed the way you build classic applications as a result of the way people are used to seeing applications on the web work? Do you do it that way even though the classic client is vastly more functional?

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re: Web Design Influences on Classic Notes Client ApplicationsBy Ed Maloney on 02/24/2009 at 05:36 AM EST
Yup - the "classic" Notes UI can't be given away in my organization. I
purchased an icon library and try to mimic contemporary web designs in all new
applications. It makes a HUGE difference in user perception of the application
even though the functionality is no different. IBM has been way,way,way behind
the curve on this.
re: Behind the curveBy Andrew Pollack on 02/24/2009 at 06:27 AM EST
I think its difficult to ride the leading edge of the UI wave through a
paradigm switch while maintaining backward compatibility in your product.
XPages on the web server side is the big shift in development for now -- and
with it promised on the client side, maybe this is the need that will help
define what that means.
re: Web Design Influences on Classic Notes Client ApplicationsBy Steve Smillie on 02/24/2009 at 07:55 AM EST
Ed, I was curious what icon libraries you looked at and which one did you

I have been looking at a few but haven't found any I like for our Notes and
Domino apps.
re: Web Design Influences on Classic Notes Client ApplicationsBy Ed Maloney on 02/24/2009 at 08:46 AM EST
Hi Steve,
I bought some icons from There are also several free
options listed in this blog I found on PlanetLotus a while ago;

My experience has been that it is definitely worth the time and expense to
update your apps with contemporary icons.

re: Web Design Influences on Classic Notes Client ApplicationsBy Chris Blatnick on 02/24/2009 at 10:45 AM EST
Have I changed the way I build apps to be more "web like"? The answer is most
definitely. One of the most advantageous things I've seen come out of the "Web
2.0" mindset is a focus on usability and the user experience. Many best
practice UI patterns have been created/evolved as a result and I think it is to
our advantage to begin using these best practices in our classic Notes
applications. The main reason I started Interface Matters was to get the word
out that it IS possible to create compelling interfaces in Notes. It may not
necessarily be easy (and I hope Xpages for the client will help here), but it
is certainly worth the effort to do so. I actually prefer developing for the
client. Since it is much more functional that a browser, we can take advantage
of that and build designs that integrate the best of both worlds.

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