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What role might usability people play in requirements elicitation?

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  • Jeff Patton
    I m curious how usability people might answer this question. I believe pulling interaction designers in very early has a profound effect on the software we
    Message 1 of 48 , Jul 20, 2004
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      I'm curious how usability people might answer this question.

      I believe pulling interaction designers in very early has a profound
      effect on the software we choose to write. I've used Constantine &
      Lockwood's modeling techniques as requirements elecitation
      techniques for a while with good success. The conversation had
      while collaboratively modeling is valuable. The resulting
      functionality we put into scope is usually more comprehensive. I
      rarely have new "requirements" coming out of left field. I've often
      believed that terms like "scope-creep" are another way of saying "we
      hadn't thought about it till now." Interaction design techniques
      force "thinking about it" - and, at least for me, in ways that more
      directly effect what software we choose to write - what our stories
      are, what goes in our backlog, choose your terminology.

      I'm hearing Lynn from Alias [who writes very cool commercially
      successful software] report that the usability person fills, more or
      less, the customer role. I'd be curious to hear, at a 10,000 foot
      level, what's gone through to determine what "requirements" are.

      I know there are usability folks that contend with requirements
      thrown over the wall, then find themselves in the sad place of
      informing stakeholders of the gaps they find. Is this true, or am I
      speculating? If it is, can you suggest what you wished might have
      happened?

      I know that folks like Arlen, Thyra, and Gary have some success at
      early involvement during requiremnts. Any advice you could could
      would be helpful. What specific techniques activities did you
      engage in? What were the results.

      thanks,

      -Jeff
    • Dale Emery
      Hi Alistair, ... I often use a form that I call The Value Question: If you had that, what would that do for you? Sometimes I use a longer form: If you had
      Message 48 of 48 , Jul 27, 2004
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        Hi Alistair,

        > I find "why?" an unpleasant question to answer when I'm asked
        > it, especially when asked it multiple times in an insistent
        > fashion. So I prefer to ask it in longer, synonym form, of
        > which there are many. Here are a couple
        >
        > "what problem would that be addressing? "...in order to
        > accomplish what?

        I often use a form that I call The Value Question: "If you had
        that, what would that do for you?"

        Sometimes I use a longer form: "If you had that, what would that
        do for you that's even more important?"

        I sometimes use The Value Question to understand the problem
        behind the problem, as here:
        http://www.dhemery.com/cwd/2003/06/the_value_question.html

        I also use The Value Question in lots of other ways to understand
        people's value hierarchies (including my own):
        http://www.dhemery.com/cwd/2004/02/values.html

        Dale

        --
        Dale Emery, Consultant
        Collaborative Leadership for Software People
        Web: http://www.dhemery.com
        Weblog: http://www.dhemery.com/cwd

        Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats
        to save; they just stand there, shining. --Anne Lamott
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