We just finalized all the dates and logistics work on the next round of ArcReady events and I could not be more excited about our theme and our special guest speaker. You can go to http://www.ArcReady.com to register now for the events. We added several more cities to the tour, including Milwaukee.

What is ArcReady?

ArcReady is our quarterly program that focus on the skills and tools that Architects (and those that want to become architects) need in order to succeed. We finished our first round of ArcReady programs a little over a week ago. Tim Landgrave was our guest speaker and our theme was “What do architects do, anyway”. It was a nice introduction to the role of a software architect and how they fit within the organization. Tim did a fantastic job and the audience feedback was very good. It tells me that we are off to a good start with the program. If you missed the sessions you can check out the slides on the ArcReady site. But I will tell you the slides do not do justice to Tim’s presentation. If you ever get a chance to hear Tim speak, take it!

The Theme

My colleagues (Josh, Denny, Phil) and I kicked around a lot of potential themes: Web 2.0, Services, SaaS, Federated Identities, Composite Applications and lots of others. Some of those you will see in future ArcReady programs, some you will not. Josh suggested that we tackle User Experience as the theme for the next ArcReady. Each of us is very interested / passionate / concerned about user experience. I have been very concerned about user experience for years - I just happen to be no good at designing a user interface. 🙂

As an industry are just now starting to “get” the importance of the User Experience. A lot of people are starting to see that if the user experience is pleasant it can mean getting more customers and better customer retention. But it goes deeper than just attracting customers with a cool looking web site. A good user experience can also benefit you on the cost side of the equation. Imagine the countless hours that are wasted every day dealing with an unpleasing user experience.

Having a good user experience does not start and end with the Cascading style sheets and Photoshop elements. Creating a good user experience begins at the architecture of the system and it does not end even when the application is shipped.

The Guest Speaker

Chris Bernard is the Microsoft’s User Experience Evangelist for the United States Central Region (Minnesota to Texas and Kentucky to Kansas). Chris is a designer by trade having spent 15+ years working in the design field. He gets user experience and design and more importantly he helps other people to understand it (I speak from personal experience). Chris presenting on User Experience alone is worth the price of admission. But it does not stop there - we are going to show how you can tie good user experience into your development processes.

The cities where I will be presenting are:

Downers Grove, IL - May 15th
Indianapolis, IN - May 24th
Milwaukee, WI - June 12th

Hope to see you there!