Genii Weblog

Live blogging the purchase of Notes 8.5

Wed 11 Mar 2009, 10:52 AM

by Ben Langhinrichs
In my earlier post, I live blogged the process of buying Outlook 2007 from Microsoft.  In this process, I'll try the same from IBM with the Notes 8.5 client.

Buying Notes 8.5 - Step 1, go to

IBM Home Page

Buying Notes 8.5 - Step 2, I guess my best bet to to click on Shop for - Software

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Buying Notes 8.5 - Step 3, While there are various ways to go, the most obvious seems to be "View software for small and medium businesses"

Software for small and medium businesses

Buying Notes 8.5 - Step 4, Again, various options, but I'll go for "Software for SMB by brand - Lotus"

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Buying Notes 8.5 - Step 4, A little surprising that it doesn't mention Lotus, but I'll click on Products

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Buying Notes 8.5 - Step 4a, I got somewhat confused here until I realized you had to scroll down and find the right part.  Once I realized, I found it quickly on this same page.

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Buying Notes 8.5 - Step 6, Clicking on "How to buy" brought me to this slightly frustrating page, as I wanted to buy, not get directed to a partner or IBM, so I clicked on "IBM Software online catalog"

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Buying Notes 8.5 - Step 7, This is getting a bit tiresome, since I am logged in, so it should know whether I have passport or not, but I select a region as a new customer and press Go.

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Buying Notes 8.5 - Step 8, OK, I am getting annoyed.  What was the point of selecting Lotus earlier if I am now presented with the full software catalog.  I am not feeling empowered, I am feeling ignored.  Nonetheless, I will select "Find products by brand - Lotus, even though I already chose that earlier, and hope that I have more specific luck this time.

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Buying Notes 8.5 - Step 9, Well, that didn't get me very far.  I can't tell how any of the choices relate to either Lotus or Notes.  I guess I'll use the search bar, since there finally is one.

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Buying Notes 8.5 - Step 10, I have moved from annoyed to angry.  It is a product catalog, I have typed in the name of the product, and there are zero hits.  When I try the Category dropdown, I can't figure out what category makes sense.  Gritting my teeth, I back up a page and try by letter instead.  I choose 'N' for Notes.

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Buying Notes 8.5 - Step 11, Finally, I am getting somewhere.  I am mystified (and did I mention annoyed?) at why this wasn't the page directly after Step 6.  Still, I seem to be on the right track, so I click on "Lotus Notes"

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Buying Notes 8.5 - Step 12, I think I am finally there, although I still don't understand which of the three choices applies to me.  Frankly, I don't give a damn anymore.  After all this time and head scratching, I could call to get a quote, but I think I'll just buy one and hope.  Up to about Step 6, this was similar to the process of buying Outlook 2007, but after that it degenerated rapidly.  There is not even a mention of 8.5, so I don't even know for sure I am buying the version I expect.  I'd better click on "Learn about license types" to be sure I get the right thing.

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Buying Notes 8.5 - Step 13, You have got to be out of your frigging mind!  I have waded through thirteen different screens, told you multiple times what sort of user I am and what sort of license I want, and know I get a page with every licensing type under the sun.  Just explain the three options I have.  Screw it, I'll go back to Outlook, as I can't even begin to figure out what this all means.

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Buying Notes 8.5 - Epic fail!

Copyright 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

801.1. Ed Brill
(03/11/2009 08:05 AM)

Now Ben...

You never went through a shopping cart process with Microsoft...and also, you could have started from with the products drop-down and chosen software | Lotus... would be analogous to the presumption that you knew Outlook was part of Office on the Microsoft side.

I went through this process after I saw your Microsoft posting:

Click 1 -, Products | Software |Lotus

Click 2 - email, calendaring, and collaborative applications (again, no more presumptuous than knowing that Outlook is part of Office). Could also have clicked "Products" in the upper left.

Click 3 - IBM Lotus Notes.

Click 4 - "Ready to buy? View US Prices and buy" on the right hand side of the screen.

That brings us to essentially the same place you stopped the Microsoft Outlook buying process.

There may be more options per page, but on the MS process, you assumed which version of Office you needed vs. checking out "Ultimate" for example. Definitely some user experience needed on both sides.

801.2. Ben Langhinrichs
(03/11/2009 09:07 AM)


I tried your approach, and it worked to some degree. I say that because it is a bit counterintuitive on Click 2 to go to "email, calendaring, and collaborative applications" instead of clicking on the huge Lotus Notes and Domino 8.5 logo on the scree, which of course takes you nowhere close to where you want to be. Nonetheless, I went through that route. But this is where I disagree. I stopped the Outlook buying experience when I had a single choice and simply needed to pay for it. This page (Step 12 above) offers three choices and no way to fin out what distinguishes them except to go through an enormously complicated licensing document. There is no mention of upgrade vs. purchase as there is with Outlook. There is no mention of the Version number to ensure that you are buying what you want (YOU may know that a Notes license entitles you to any release of Notes, but a new customer hardly would). There is no indication whether buying the license even gives you the software, and whether it comes on CD or via download (although that is disclosed later). I have little confidence that after paying my money, I will b presented with an immediate download link to get my software. Instead, I will now be authorized to search through every damn screen again to try to find out how to download, and without any idea whether I had the right package.

I actually started this hoping to prove that it really wasn't so difficult to buy a Notes 8.5, bu I wanted to be fair, which is why I live blogged the experience. As an afterthought, I went to the Microsoft site and tried about four different approaches. All ended up with a way to purchase in six or seven clicks (or fewer). I tried the same with IBM, and there were dozens of ways, all of which felt like "a maze of twisty passages, all the same". As I say, I really wanted to prove that it was easier than I thought, but I actually proved (to myself, not to you) that it was worse than I expected.


801.3. Bill Dorge
(03/11/2009 09:19 AM)

"would be analogous to the presumption that you knew Outlook was part of Office on the Microsoft side."

Begs the question. WHY anyone would know that? How many Joe users really know that Notes is part of the Lotus brand?

I quit using a while back, here in Missouri it takes forever to load, like 30 seconds normally. I search on google and find what I need or bookmark the pages I use.

801.4. Richard Moy
(03/11/2009 03:34 PM)


I would like to be constructive here. I know that IBM is a very large organization. Unfortunately, the web site seems to reflects the many directions that IBM has and in a number of cases they conflict. A good example is if you go to and select small business solutions you will get a Web page with a list of hardware and software solutions from IBM for small businesses. Everything else is there except the best small business solution from IBM, NOTES AND DOMINO. This is inherently the same problem that I blogged about two years ago. IBM needs to reorganization how the web site is managed and created. This is especially true for the small business market since the audience point of view is different then the medium and enterprise businesses. Unfortunately, Smart Market does not meet that need.

801.5. Tanny O'Haley
(03/11/2009 07:06 PM)


I took a look at the process by following your notes. It was still confusing. You cannot click the images next to the description of the product. It is confusing as an end user or even new developer to whether I should buy IBM Lotus Domino, IBM Lotus Notes, IBM Lotus Notes Hosted Messaging, IBM Lotus iNotes (which looks a lot like IBM Lotus Notes) or IBM Lotus Domino Express. It was not apparent from your instructions that I'd have to go to a nested drop down menu for step one. BTW, nested drop down menus are not good usability practice as the menus on the IBM site take precise motor skills to get to.

I like Ben wanted to click "on the huge Lotus Notes and Domino 8.5 logo on the screen" which of course doesn't put you where you want to go.

Why click "email, calendaring, and collaborative applications", I want to buy Lotus Notes?

Okay, now I'm here, as in the first paragraph, what do I choose?

Where's "Ready to buy? View US Prices and buy"? Oh, there it is on the right side of the page in a small box right where I'm not looking because I'm looking at the center of the page. Okay I'll click it.

What do I do now? Which product do I buy and why? This is not "essentially the same place" Ben "stopped the Microsoft Outlook buying process". When Ben stopped the Microsoft Outlook buying process, he had one product choice and Buy now or Upgrade buttons.

Why not a big Buy Me button at the beginning that goes to a chart like the "Which 2007 Office suite is right for you" page, that gives me a list of the products, why and the price. And since it's US prices, why not put the "$" symbol in front of the amounts?

And finally don't even get me started on the "Software product finder"! Notes is such a cool product. The web site should make it easy for people to buy.