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  • Jeff Patton
    I want to thank everyone for very quickly signing up for this group. I m seeing a really great mix of participants with varying degrees of experience in both
    Message 1 of 11 , Jul 13 7:12 AM
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      I want to thank everyone for very quickly signing up for this
      group. I'm seeing a really great mix of participants with
      varying degrees of experience in both usability and agile
      development.

      Looking over the members, I know there are frustrated usability
      people signed up who've recently found themselves in an agile
      development environment, and now have to rethink the way they work.
      And, I know there are usability people out there who were in the
      same place a year or two ago and have now figured out how to adapt
      and perform effectively in those environments. So, if you're in
      the former group, and have some current frustration: post a
      question. You'll likely get good advice.

      I know there are folks very strong in software development, and very
      strong in agile development specifically, signed up. I think
      they've seen projects succeed without specific involvement of
      someone specializing in usability and may question its necessity. I
      also suspect they've seen situations where projects have fallen
      into a thrashing cycle, projects where requirements seem to arrive
      late and from nowhere, and projects that look good at delivery time,
      but are less than warmly received by end users. I think the
      usability folks on the list may have some explanation for some of
      those symptoms.

      I know there are strong usability folks out there who may have not
      yet worked in an agile development team. You might have questions
      on why you'd want to, and how this might change the way you
      practice.

      I'm hoping that in the paragraphs above that I've described
      someone and given them an idea for a question to ask. If I did and
      it's you, ask.

      And, while I'm addressing such a strong list of diverse smart
      people, I'm likely to start pelting you with my own self-serving
      questions.

      One procedural note: I'm moderating posts to this list for folks
      that I haven't run across before – so some posts may take a
      few minutes to show up. I really want to keep the list free of the
      annoying advertising stuff I've seen kill other lists. If anyone
      wants to help moderate, please let me know – the more moderators
      the better.

      Thanks again everyone for showing up.

      -Jeff Patton
    • Phlip
      ... What kind of credentials do usability experts need? I always just relied on the doesn t suck principle myself... ===== Phlip
      Message 2 of 11 , Jul 13 7:27 AM
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        Jeff Patton wrote:

        > varying degrees of experience in both usability...

        What kind of credentials do usability experts need?

        I always just relied on the "doesn't suck" principle
        myself...



        =====
        Phlip
        http://industrialxp.org/community/bin/view/Main/TestFirstUserInterfaces



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      • Jeff Patton
        ... As always, the answer is it depends. I lump usability people into three groups: 1. up-front people: those who work at pre-development/pre-product stage
        Message 3 of 11 , Jul 13 8:23 AM
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          --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Phlip <phlipcpp@y...> wrote:
          > What kind of credentials do usability experts need?

          As always, the answer is "it depends."

          I lump usability people into three groups:
          1. up-front people: those who work at pre-development/pre-product
          stage to determine what software is appropriate to build
          2. design people: knowing what the software should do, how exactly
          does it do it? Both appearance and user interaction
          3. design validation or test people: given a piece of software
          functionality, exactly how usable is it? What adjustments could be
          made to make it more usable?

          Like developers, there are usability generalists who do all those
          things well, and specialists who focus hard on doing a particular
          thing well. Among usability people there are many different points
          of view on how any of those activities are done.

          What best credentials are depends on where you perceive risk to be
          in your project. Are customers unsure what to do? Are they sure
          what it should do, but hazy on exactly how? Do you have a product
          that does what it should, but does it poorly?

          >
          > I always just relied on the "doesn't suck" principle
          > myself...

          Me too - sort of. If the piece of functionality is used by one
          proficient person infrequently, I let it suck. If it's used by
          hundreds of inexperienced people very frequently, sucking might get
          expensive. Especially if you have to pay to frequently train this
          people, and provide help desk support for them. Since sucking can
          get very expensive in that situation, an expert in making it not
          suck can pay big dividends to a customer concerned with ROI.

          I think others on the list could better say what proficiencies a
          usability person should have.

          Also, usability people, if you have other points of view than mine
          on the 3 classes - I'd like to hear them.

          -Jeff





          >
          >
          >
          > =====
          > Phlip
          >
          http://industrialxp.org/community/bin/view/Main/TestFirstUserInterfac
          es
          >
          >
          >
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        • David Anderson
          Jeff, I want to thank you for inviting me. Looking through the membership I see that quite a few people know me, and mostly for my recent work on Agile
          Message 4 of 11 , Jul 13 8:39 AM
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            Jeff,

            I want to thank you for inviting me.

            Looking through the membership I see that quite a few people know me,
            and mostly for my recent work on Agile Management. However, I was the
            UI Architect on the original FDD project in Singapore and personally
            designed 450 of the 600 screens in the GUI for that system.

            I've recently been asked a few times to write more about agile UI
            design and usability and I do have some stuff to share which reflects
            work which I did between 1997 and 2000 before I was press ganged into
            the management at Sprintpcs.com ;-)

            I am overdue to post some web log entries at uidesign.net with that
            material.

            I'm happy to be here. Pleased that agile usability is getting
            attention and I look forward to fruitful discussions on this list.

            Cheers

            David

            --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Jeff Patton" <jpatton@a...>
            wrote:
            > I want to thank everyone for very quickly signing up for this
            > group. I'm seeing a really great mix of participants with
            > varying degrees of experience in both usability and agile
            > development.
            >
          • Ron Vutpakdi
            ... Well, it sort of depends how you re lumping together. Within Landmark, when most people say usability they tend to lump together the 2 human factors
            Message 5 of 11 , Jul 13 8:49 AM
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              --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Jeff Patton" <jpatton@a...>
              wrote:
              > --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Phlip <phlipcpp@y...> wrote:
              > > What kind of credentials do usability experts need?
              >
              > As always, the answer is "it depends."
              >
              > I lump usability people into three groups:
              > 1. up-front people: those who work at pre-development/pre-product
              > stage to determine what software is appropriate to build
              > 2. design people: knowing what the software should do, how exactly
              > does it do it? Both appearance and user interaction
              > 3. design validation or test people: given a piece of software
              > functionality, exactly how usable is it? What adjustments could be
              > made to make it more usable?

              Well, it sort of depends how you're lumping together. Within
              Landmark, when most people say "usability" they tend to lump together
              the 2 human factors folks (who have a degree in human factors), the
              interaction designer (me), the domain experts (about 12), and the
              documentation folks as usability due to the way the group was
              originally formed (even though the group has now been disbanded and
              dispersed.

              Jeff's general lumping of up front folks, designers, and design
              validation/testing is the most common lumping that I've seen in terms
              of skill sets, interests, and activities. I most often see the first
              and last group lumped together also.

              I'd expand on the up-front description a bit to include to include
              conducting ethnographic research which goes into the determining what
              to build.

              And, as Jeff pointed out, everyone has a slightly different focus. I
              prefer to fall on the design and upfront parts, but I also do the
              design validation and testing side too.

              >
              > > I always just relied on the "doesn't suck" principle
              > > myself...
              >

              Perceptions of what "doesn't suck" does vary dramatically though. For
              example, I work with a developer whose perception of "doesn't suck"
              means that *he* can use the software well enough to exercise the
              necessary functionality. Luckily, the perception of the dev lead is a
              little different, so I get her to tell him that an interface needs to
              be changed and he needs to listen to me.


              >
              > I think others on the list could better say what proficiencies a
              > usability person should have.

              I think that an important proficiency is the ability to be flexible
              and adapt to the current situation. Doesn't mean cave in and just
              rubber stamp things, but understanding how to adapt, when to push, and
              when not to push.

              Ron
            • Deb
              ... Hi Jeff. Thanks for organising this. I may be more of a lurker, but am very interested. I am a ScrumMaster, and find that a self organising team
              Message 6 of 11 , Jul 13 10:24 AM
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                --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Jeff Patton" <jpatton@a...>
                wrote:
                > I want to thank everyone for very quickly signing up for this
                > group. I'm seeing a really great mix of participants with
                > varying degrees of experience in both usability and agile
                > development.

                Hi Jeff. Thanks for organising this.

                I may be more of a lurker, but am very interested. I am a ScrumMaster,
                and find that a "self organising team" dominated by programmers can
                forget about the user experience. I am wondering where, in the cycle
                of Scrum, usability design fits in. I suspect there are various
                answers to this, depending on the scope of the work being done...

                I'll be watching. :-)
                deb
              • Adam Carter
                ... Who says it doesn t suck ? Adam
                Message 7 of 11 , Jul 14 4:56 AM
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                  Phlip wrote:

                  > I always just relied on the "doesn't suck" principle
                  > myself...

                  Who says it 'doesn't suck'?

                  Adam
                • Phlip
                  ... Me! /a beat/ This might be considered a gap in the process. ;-) ===== Phlip http://industrialxp.org/community/bin/view/Main/TestFirstUserInterfaces
                  Message 8 of 11 , Jul 14 3:23 PM
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                    Adam Carter wrote:

                    > Phlip wrote:
                    >
                    > > I always just relied on the "doesn't suck"
                    > > principle myself...
                    >
                    > Who says it 'doesn't suck'?

                    Me!

                    /a beat/

                    This might be considered a gap in the process.

                    ;-)


                    =====
                    Phlip
                    http://industrialxp.org/community/bin/view/Main/TestFirstUserInterfaces



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                  • Adam Carter
                    ... Not surprisingly I think that is the answer for most application development :P Adam
                    Message 9 of 11 , Jul 14 7:39 PM
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                      Phlip wrote:

                      > > Who says it 'doesn't suck'?
                      >
                      > Me!
                      >
                      > /a beat/
                      >
                      > This might be considered a gap in the process.
                      >
                      > ;-)
                      >
                      >
                      > =====
                      > Phlip

                      :)

                      Not surprisingly I think that is the answer for most application
                      development :P

                      Adam
                    • Arlen Bankston
                      What is the role of the Interaction Designer (ID) in agile teams? To build on the many insightful observations that have come before, I ll unload the
                      Message 10 of 11 , Jul 18 2:36 PM
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                        What is the role of the Interaction Designer (ID) in agile teams? To
                        build on the many insightful observations that have come before, I'll
                        unload the following opinions:

                        THE INTERACTION DESIGNER SHOULD REPRESENT THE USERS
                        As several have noted previously [16, 56], there are major differences
                        between the XP Customer and an application's Users. Keeping this in
                        mind, one can examine the XP system of Developers and Customers and
                        see that there is a productive tension between the two; this can be
                        multiplied by introducing Users as a third party. Since the full
                        continuum of Users rarely enjoy direct representation in a project
                        team (even by proxy), someone must advocate for their needs, as does
                        the Customer for the business's needs (or their own), and the
                        Developers for the system's quality and their own bandwidth. This
                        responsibility should lay with the Interaction Designer.

                        IDs SHOULD BE GENERALIZING SPECIALISTS
                        Jeff earlier divided usability folks into three groups:
                        up-front/requirements people, design/implementation people and testing
                        people. I would contend that, especially in an agile team, these are
                        skills that are applied at various stages of a project, but ones that
                        should all be held to some degree by a single person. (A partial
                        exception is testing, which is multifaceted and deserves attention
                        from several parties, and a separate discussion.) Agile teams need
                        the eponymous "generalizing specialist" [Ambler], with core
                        proficiencies in interaction and UI design, and strong capabilities in:
                        - Business analysis
                        - GUI development
                        - User observation & analysis
                        - Usability testing
                        - Graphic design

                        I have seen few agile projects that would readily fund more than a
                        single individual in this general line of practice, so this is to some
                        degree a matter of practicality. However, it is more about the single
                        point of responsibility noted above; in order to have a consistent
                        shared vision and quality execution throughout an incremental process,
                        someone must be singularly focused on the none-too-simple task of
                        smoothly integrating all of those changing requirements into the
                        broader navigation structure, as well as into the individual screens.
                        The mental context switch between interaction/UI design and OO
                        development is significant, and asking Developers to manage both will
                        inevitably lead to sacrifices on one side or the other.

                        THE CUSTOMER NEEDS HELP UNDERSTANDING BUSINESS VALUE
                        I believe that the ID provides a vital service to the Customer by
                        providing a more objective picture of their User's needs than they
                        might otherwise enjoy. This perspective is both an addendum and a
                        counterbalance to internal business objectives, as Brian noted
                        eloquently in message 16. For example, a Customer might feel that
                        they need certain features, but have little true idea of the relative
                        value of each; this information can be provided by the application of
                        Usage-Centered Design, by ethnographic observation and other means.
                        The Customer still has the final word on what they want to do, but now
                        they're getting strong opinions from both Developers and Users (via
                        the ID) to inform their decisions.

                        Some other quickies addressing previous posts:

                        * Usability should be cultural, but not solely distributed. Its value
                        should be clear to the entire team, and they should collaboratively
                        practice and learn it as much as possible. However, diluting the
                        responsibility among the team (even with a pinch-hitting UI/usability
                        expert) is risky, because the practices are different and complex
                        enough that a single owner is generally warranted (IMO). I really
                        like Kent's approach in message 30.

                        * ID practices generally move to a very different beat than the rest
                        of development. This means that they can be done in parallel, yet
                        another argument for a dedicated resource (see Mark's message 18).

                        * The ID's skills can be useful even in projects with little or no UI,
                        as noted in the thread regarding API development. I have been
                        involved in several business process redesign efforts, for instance;
                        the principles and practices are much the same, and similar to those
                        of business analysts.

                        OK, I think that's long-winded enough. 'Til next time... ;)

                        Arlen Bankston
                        Interaction Design Manager | CC Pace | www.ccpace.com
                      • Gary
                        Hi, another blast from the past post that evidently took the scenic route (and still is). I agree with Jeff s breakdown with 2 slight twists. From what I ve
                        Message 11 of 11 , Jul 20 6:59 PM
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                          Hi,

                          another "blast from the past" post that evidently took the scenic route
                          (and still is).

                          I agree with Jeff's breakdown with 2 slight twists. From what I've seen
                          companies break the work down into the 3 chunks.
                          In large organizations Usability usually starts out with testing, then
                          gets into some design, followed by front-end work, and finally more
                          design and a life-cycle process.

                          Second, most people seem to specialize in one phase or another. In fact
                          they typically specialize in using a few of the tools available in that
                          phase.

                          So what are the credentials? That is a different question. I've known
                          folks who have had 1 year of experience 10 or more years and a few who
                          have crammed 2 years of experience into a year. Additionally there
                          isn't a certification program that is universally accepted. So for
                          credentials we typically look at tools used, portfolio of work, input
                          from collegues, and gut feel.

                          gary


                          > Jeff Patton wrote:
                          >
                          >> --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Phlip <phlipcpp@y...> wrote:
                          >> > What kind of credentials do usability experts need?
                          >>
                          >> As always, the answer is "it depends."
                          >>
                          >> I lump usability people into three groups:
                          >> 1. up-front people: those who work at pre-development/pre-product
                          >> stage to determine what software is appropriate to build 2. design
                          >> people: knowing what the software should do, how exactly
                          >> does it do it? Both appearance and user interaction
                          >> 3. design validation or test people: given a piece of software
                          >> functionality, exactly how usable is it? What adjustments could be
                          >> made to make it more usable?
                          >>
                          >> Like developers, there are usability generalists who do all those
                          >> things well, and specialists who focus hard on doing a particular
                          >> thing well. Among usability people there are many different points
                          >> of view on how any of those activities are done.
                          >>
                          >> What best credentials are depends on where you perceive risk to be
                          >> in your project. Are customers unsure what to do? Are they sure
                          >> what it should do, but hazy on exactly how? Do you have a product
                          >> that does what it should, but does it poorly?
                          >>
                          >> >
                          >> > I always just relied on the "doesn't suck" principle
                          >> > myself...
                          >>
                          >> Me too - sort of. If the piece of functionality is used by one
                          >> proficient person infrequently, I let it suck. If it's used by
                          >> hundreds of inexperienced people very frequently, sucking might get
                          >> expensive. Especially if you have to pay to frequently train this
                          >> people, and provide help desk support for them. Since sucking can
                          >> get very expensive in that situation, an expert in making it not
                          >> suck can pay big dividends to a customer concerned with ROI.
                          >> I think others on the list could better say what proficiencies a
                          >> usability person should have.
                          >> Also, usability people, if you have other points of view than mine
                          >> on the 3 classes - I'd like to hear them.
                          >> -Jeff
                          >>
                          >>
                          >>
                          >>
                          >>
                          >> >
                          >> >
                          >> >
                          >> > =====
                          >> > Phlip
                          >> > http://industrialxp.org/community/bin/view/Main/TestFirstUserInterfac
                          >> es
                          >> >
                          >> >
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