Not many people know this but I trained as a mechanical engineer earlier in life and one of the skills I picked up was how to use CAD. Recently I was using Auto CAD to do some plans for a house extension (different story) and I stumbled upon the 3D modelling capabilities of the product. Being interested in the user experience (UX) within Sage, and how 3D was becoming more prevalent in the lives of our users (not the kind requiring the special glasses – but more on that later – more on how 3D metaphors, such as the Apple cover flow view and the Windows 8 tile movement – both of which use floating icons – add an element of realism to the experience) I started drafting some mock ups on how some key Sage Product screens could benefit from the 3D touch.
The first – borrowing heavily from Apple – was a cover flow of recently navigated screens, allowing a user to visually move back and forwards across recent activities or even favourites.
The second – extending the flow metaphor – was a 3D rolodex view of data lists, such as the customer list, with the rolodex entry popping out, and showing the customer data, as the user paused on a particular one (more data obviously could be retrieved by pulling out the rolodex entry).
The third – and by far more challenging to sketch out – was a 3D view of a project hierarchy, allowing multiple nodes of the hierarchy to be expanded and shown at a 3D angle (the Sage product allowed single nodes to be expanded to see data but this allowed all sub-nodes to be shown in 3D). This view obviously lends itself very well to any grouped data and could be applied to profit and loss and balance sheet reports, for example.
The final one was more around using 3D workspaces and icons to move away from the traditional menu driven approach to user interaction within the Sage Product – a sort of Matrix type interaction to drag in the domain area of interest and 3D floating/touch icons to select a particular function. Now if we really were to add stereoscopic imaging to this interface there would be a really immersive user experience….