An Interview with Paul Messink

Paul Messink, director of intranet development at Domino's Pizza, is in charge of the technical aspects (including software design, security, and tools) for the company's implementation of Lotus Development's Lotus Domino. Messink, who says that the similarity between his company's name and the name of the software is purely coincidental, gave his thoughts on the project.

What did you like about the project's implementation?
We've combined the best Web and most advanced Lotus Notes features to create a powerful and easy-to-manage system. For example, Fry Multimedia used Java applets to write Web-based navigation menus. In addition, the menu structure integrates into Lotus Domino security, so each user's options correlate to that user's security level.

What didn't you like about the project's implementation?
I'm convinced we've experienced exceptional benefits, but the learning curve was greater than we expected. Also, working with nontechnical information managers initially slowed us down because they didn't understand the software development process. Although their involvement was invaluable, the design team took a while to function.

What would you have done differently on the project?
I would have taught the information managers some software development basics, such as the software life cycle and the importance of written design specifications. I also would have spent more time with mock-ups, prototyping the user interface early in the development process and conducting usability studies. When we realized the user interface was inflexible and didn't let us easily grow the site, we had to rewrite it. Unfortunately, this realization came late in the site development stage.

What advice can you give your peers?
Involve people who will manage the content­we call them information managers. Keep the user interface simple. Pay attention to graphics, security, navigation, and ease of use, all of which are essential. Finally, make project management a priority.

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