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Access 2007 in many ways is a different product for end users. In previous releases it was very difficult to be successful creating a new application without using help, taking a class, reading a book, or asking the community—information workers that wanted to use the product had to really dive into the product. Sure we had some templates but there weren’t discoverable and the team hadn’t made big investments in that area. Internally, we referred the Access 2003 boot screen as the gray screen of death.
The new Getting Started screen is introducing the product to a much broader range of information workers that don’t have previous experience in Access.
We watched carefully the comments and ratings through Office Online. Everything indicated that people were getting lots of benefit and the template hit the mark and were successful at bring a new class of users. However, the team felt we needed to understand with more clarity how successful the templates were as well as gather more information about our users. We have fairly good communication channels with enterprises through our sales force and professional developers through the MVPs and the blog. The user we didn’t feel was accurately represented in our feedback loop was new users and information workers who were primarily focused on their day job where Access is a tool for helping them make decisions and track stuff.
About 8 months ago we updated our templates to include a Provide Feedback option to the main application form.
This link takes people to a short 10 question survey that utilizes the Ultimate Question methodology to determine customer loyalty and gathers some additional information about our users. The results of the research indicated there were lots of room to improve the template experience for new users.
One of the questions ask people if they would talk to a person on the team about their experience. Since the release of the survey the team has called all types of users to talk about Access on a regular basis. We typically write up our results and share them with the entire team. This process has enabled us to incorporate feedback from many of our users that previously haven’t had a voice in product design decisions.
The team has been able to leverage this information in a number of ways. Early calls indicated many people were having trouble printing labels because the Address field didn’t show up. Turns out the label wizard filters our memo fields and the address field type was a memo (consistency with SharePoint). We were able to quickly release a update to all the templates with a fix. The great thing about the Office Online integration for templates is we can release a fix without having waiting for an SP.
We recently took it one step further. Josh Meisels, our summer intern, used the information to contact a number of people who were using the contacts template. Through the summer we were able to make a number of changes that have been extremely well received. Josh will tell you more about that tomorrow.
Overall, the template survey enabled us to make a connection with an important customer that wasn’t represented in our feedback chain.
1) Why not make maïn screen items optional? Experienced users don't need a screen with links to templates. 2) Ergonomy: "Blank database" icon is far away from lower right corner where we input database name. I'd expect the input box just under the "Blank database" icon.
I have rated CZ template called Úkoly. But as far as I can see low ratings do not count... :-/
Will there be a "customer-feedback-call" for navigation "pain" & ribbon & help & missing classic UI with toolbars & missing database window? Please...
Make the distribution of ms access even like rbase or Visual Foxpro.The Ribbon customization like menu bar in VS 2008 and datasheet/datagrid like DevExperience-Developer Express. It's a dream for all the ms access developers. Why the Developer Express team can create such an incredible enhancements? MS has a very Fat budget compared to them. Vladimir, thanks four your continuous positive feedback. Someday the Ms Access team will make or break!
Erwin: Thank you very much for your support. :-)
Clint "we referred the Access 2003 boot screen as the gray screen of death." If only I could get Access 2003 to look as good as Access 97 at startup I would be happy. That is no getting started at all. How about making the getting started, ribbons and navigation all things we can switch off so that Access 2009 will look and work just like Access 97 as far as the UI is concerned. You got it right and it is a shame that all "progress" since has been frivolous. As stated so many times by many before just make these new things that developers do not want or need OPTIONAL. Not so much a "gray screen of death" more of a blank sheet of paper. Just because many developers hate the above new UI clutter does not mean it may have some no use to the "Sunday Drivers" but make it all OPTIONAL rather than force us to wade through this detritus. What would be good is an "Access 97" setting in Options to switch it all off including AutoCorrect and Subdatasheets etc etc.
This post is about Customer feedback. I can’t resist but to return the ball to the Access team’s end, by saying that I think you would be wise to practice what you preach. There was another post such as this way back that dealt with confrontations and the recommended ways to deal with them. I was tempted then, as I sometimes am, when such general strategy issues come up, to use the post to try and convince members of the team to use their own recommendations to others, and actually demonstrate the conduct they recommend. This blog does enable communication with the Access customers, and I think it is wonderful, but it does not necessarily mean that the Access team is also responsive to its customers. It may just be a way to allow the developers to vent their frustrations, without really taking them into serious consideration. For example, I can’t believe that the added ribbons in Access07 were based on any listening to any Access customers, developers or end users alike. I know the Office team listened a lot to customers when developing the ribbons, and then ribbons were introduced to the Office user-interface. So if they were made to be part of the Access user interface that would have made more sense to me. But they weren’t. Instead the developers are now required to add ribbons to the interface of the applications they develop, which is a whole different matter. The reasons developers don’t like ribbons has been discussed here. I think the reasons end users will not use them is even more salient. I assume the Access team has many considerations that I can not be aware of, and there must be a lot more reasoning behind their decisions that I can not know about. But from my limited perspective, this looks and seems like just an example of pretending to listen to customers, but in fact not sufficiently doing so. I hope I don't sound to harsh. I do think Access is great.
Craig: "What would be good is an "Access 97" setting in Options to switch it all off including AutoCorrect and Subdatasheets etc etc." I second that!
I've been using Access since Access 97. I develop applikations that we use internally at the Research Institute where I work. Now I use Access 2003 and have done some small testing with Access 2007. I understand your intentions making Access more easy to use for unexperienced users. But while you've done this you also made it more difficult for proffesional developers. I agree strongly with
"What would be good is an "Access 97" setting in Options to switch it all off including AutoCorrect and Subdatasheets etc etc."
if this is the way ms access team develops software then, I am hoping ms access internal development will become an open source project someday. And I am hoping Visual foxrpo too. We developers can foresee the reality esp in datacentric applications that if they will furnished ms access then, VS.net will end up somewhere. So, politics is the game here. Fellow MS Access Developer lets continue to do a positive criticism to the ms access team. As-Salamu Alaykum!!!