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CHI-WEB  July 2003, Week 4

CHI-WEB July 2003, Week 4

Subject:

SUMMARY: Usability in Offshore Firms

From:

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Reply-To:

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Date:

Thu, 24 Jul 2003 10:53:06 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (100 lines)

Summary:

My original request was to get a sense of the "state of usability" in
offshore firms, primarily in India. My assumption was that, as businesses
increasingly embrace offshore models, UX will face numerous challenges in
communicating or handing off designs to remote development teams with very
little knowledge of usability as a distinct discipline.

I provided these links on the topic:
http://www.rashmisinha.com/indiause.html
http://www.tech-bridge.com/usability-lab.html

Thanks to those who responded. I've included responses below, edited for
brevity. Hopefully I didn't mis-quote anyone.

Jeff

**********

In response, Andrew Smith, who is based in the UK working at the University
of Luton and optimum.web limited in London, writes that usability/UCD is
small but growing in India. He manages a project funded by the European
Union called the Indo European Systems Usability Partnership. Two key
partners are the British HCI group and the Computer Society of India. Find
out more at http://www.iesup.org.

"Of particular interest is that we will be running a series of seminars in
India in October, one topic of which will be user centred design in the
Indian / offshore context. This is being led by Jan Gulliksen of Uppsala
University in Sweden."

**********

Naveet Nair writes that usability education in India is very limited with
about two design schools that deal with the topic, providing limited
exposure to engineers. However, the community has been picking up in the
last few years.

"As far as the interaction is concerned, I do not believe you'll find the
attitude amongst engineers here any different from that anywhere else.
Do not expect them to accept all suggestions straight away. But once you
gain their trust, things become easier..."

Naveet recommends the active mailing list: [log in to unmask]

**************

Nancy Shea shares the following experience:

"My experience with an offshore firm is now four years old - and may be
different than yours because my US firm was the client and the Indian firm
was the vendor - but I'll share it to add to the experiences of others.

"The firm we used to develop our product operated very much in "factory"
mode - this was a term they used to describe themselves and one I was not
entirely comfortable using. The vast majority of the programmers were very
young but very enthusiastic to perform well. In fact, when I visited their
office I was amazed to see the amount of number crunching and charting that
was done and published publically to track performance. I've never seen the
number of motivational posters as I did in their offices.

"So, while the firm did not have an individual devoted to user experience,
we were able to tie this into the matrices by which their work was judged
and it became a priority of all. I ended up giving a weeklong course to the
programmers on our project to help them understand WHY I was giving them the
nature of changes I was giving them and how they could identify these
changes ahead of time. Software training in India, as far as I could see,
was rooted in the mechanics and the idea of human factors was new. Some were
more receptive to the idea than others, so  I found and allied myself with
those who 'got it' and used them as internal advocates when I had to go back
home.

"The key I found was publishing and constantly updating standards that could
be referred to on the job and that the developers could be held accountable
for. I would say that the 'softer' side of user experience didn't translate
as easily."

***********

Cynthia Toryu writes:

"Did you see the March + April 2003 issue of Interactions? The entire issue
focuses on HCI in the developing world. You may be interested in one of the
articles, 'Advancing UCD While Facing Challenges Working from Offshore',
which speaks specifically about usability in India."

**********

Other links:

http://www.chi-SouthIndia.org
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bangalore_chi

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