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"ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)" <[log in to unmask]>
Nigel Bevan <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 25 Aug 1998 16:46:28 +0100
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Nigel Bevan <[log in to unmask]>
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At 13:17 -0400 24/8/98, Jen Cardello wrote:
>I'll take a stab at defining a few roles below (Product strategist,
>Information architect, Interaction designer, Visual designer). Please note:
>I believe it is far more important to define the process than the specific
>activities of each player.

Most of the activities under these roles are ones which a usability
professional  might lead or contribute to.  I am uneasy with even a concept
as loose as "role" - it suggests (to me at least) a person to match each
role.  On the other hand, the design and development process does need a
multi-disciplinary team which can produce a product strategy, information
architecture, interaction design and visual design.

The activities that Jen listed under each of these categories contribute to
a user-centred design process (eg as described in ISO 13407).  The person
responsible for user centred design needs to ensure that all the activities
get done - it is then a matter of allocating them to individuals with
appropriate expertise (usability engineer, human factors specialist,
information architect, designer, ... etc).

The INUSE Deliverable D5.2.3 (Proposed Usability Engineering Assurance
contains a list of criteria (reproduced below) which can be used to judge
user centred design activities (derived from ISO 13407).  I think this list
overlaps with Jen's.  It is also another way of describing the potential
responsibilities of a usability engineer ...


1. User centred activities shall be employed throughout the lifecycle.
a) A clear definition of user tasks and goals shall be obtained by
involving users in specifying the PES requirements.
b) User characteristics shall be taken into account throughout the PES
c) Preliminary design solutions shall take account of existing human
factors knowledge.
d) User feedback shall be obtained by appropriate means to evaluate design
e) There shall be iteration throughout the lifecycle to ensure that user
feedback is effectively utilised.
f) The design team shall have appropriate multi-disciplinary skills.

2. There shall be an appropriate allocation of function between user and
a) Functions that are outside the capabilities and limitations of human
operators shall be allocated to the PES.
b) The complexity of user allocated functions shall be matched to user
skills and abilities.
c) The functions allocated to the user shall form a meaningful set in terms
of the task goals and user workload.

3. A plan should be developed to specify how the human-centred activities
fit into the overall product development process. It should form part of
the overall project plan and should be subject to the same project
disciplines as other key activities. The plan should allow for effective
design team communication, iteration and feedback into the design
a) Human-centred activities must be carried out and suitable timescales
should be defined.
b) There must be evidence that evaluation results have been used to improve
and refine the IT product.
c) There must be individuals and organisation(s) responsible for the
human-centred development activities.  The range of skills which they
provide should be described.
d) The resources required for evaluation and analysis of results should be
e) There should be procedures for establishing feedback and communication
on human-centred development activities.
f) There should be a procedure for integrating human-centred activities
with other development activities.

4. The context of use is to state the range and relevant characteristics of
intended users, tasks, equipment and environments of the system in
sufficient detail to support design and evaluation activities. Particular
attention should be given to those characteristics which are judged to have
significant impact on the performance of the users.
a) The range of intended users, tasks and environments must be specified.
b) The sources from which the context of use information was derived should
be described.
c) There should be context of use information in the non-functional
d) The context of use should be one of the driving forces in the
development process.

5. A thorough understanding of the goals for the product, the tasks to be
supported, the capabilities of the users, and the organisational and
physical environment of the product are required in order to apply
ergonomics principles.  The user, ergonomic and usability requirements in
relation to the context of use of the product must therefore be stated and
understood clearly, fully and consistently.
a) The range of representative users and other stakeholders in the
development process shall be known.
b) There must be a statement of the human-centred design goals and their
target values.
c) There should be a statement of the objectives which the intended users
have for the IT product and the performance of the tasks which will be
carried out with the product.
d) The user and ergonomic requirements should be prioritised, unambiguous
and stated in sufficient detail to support design and evaluation activities.

6. Characteristics of a well-designed solution include achieving the goals
for the system, facilitating task performance, safeguarding the users'
health and safety, recognising the experience and capabilities of the user
population, fitting into the organisational and physical environment, and
implementing applicable ergonomics principles.  It must be demonstrated
that the user and ergonomic requirements, context of use, technology
constraints and the applicable principles of software ergonomics have been
synthesised into the design through the involvement of users in the
development process.
a) The requirements must be one of the driving forces in prototype development.
b) Existing knowledge and applicable standards should be known and applied.
Evidence supporting the rejection of existing knowledge and standards
should be provided.
c) Steps should be taken to ensure that prototypes cover key requirements
and follow good practice.
d) For all evaluations there should be a list of the features to be
evaluated.  The product version to be evaluated should be known.

7. Evaluation of adherence to ergonomic requirements must be carried out to
ensure that applicable requirements have been appropriately addressed in
the design and use of the product.  The evaluation is to use suitable
methods, take account of the context of use of the product and to cover
sufficient parts of the product so that it is representative of the
assessed product.
a) There must be a description of the parts of the IT product which are to
be evaluated.
b) The human-centred design goals to be evaluated must be defined.
c) The procedures for performing the evaluation must be defined.
d) The number of users taking part must be defined and their
representativeness should be known.
e) There should be a clear understanding of the appropriateness of testing,
data collection and data analysis methods for the IT product given its
context of use.
f) The content and format of the feedback to the designers should be clear
and phrased in an appropriate manner.  Feedback should include
recommendations of how to proceed, ranked findings and a list of actions
g) There should be evidence of feedback and use of results in other
corporate development activities.