RE: [agile-usability] Usability, personas, use cases
- On Thu, 2005-07-07 at 13:58 -0500, Larry Constantine wrote:
> Musical analogies can carry us only so far, however. In the real worldSorry if I was unclear. When I said that I felt formal methods should be
> where I work the need to ensure traceability for the FDA or guaranteed
> performance for the owners of the electrical grid mitigate against
> treating anything with casual informality.
used when you can't get informal, intuitive approaches to work, I didn't
mean that one should treat work casually.
For example, writers I know are very serious about their craft. But I
don't know any professional writer who follows a formal method to
achieve good prose. If they need a powerful closing sentence, they write
one, and may be completely unable to explain how they did it.
If one doesn't have the knack for writing, then the methods in
composition textbooks are a good place to start. Or if an organization
wants to write something that's beyond the scope of what one writer or a
small team can achieve, then coming up with a formal, process-driven
approach can have good results.
What I was trying to highlight, though, is that neither of those gets
you the same value per effort of one talented, experienced writer fully
engaged in the task itself. Thus, I always look first for ways to fit
work within that envelope.
> Use cases cannot be allowed to wither away, as they are part of theCertainly there are environments where that sort of paperwork is the
> engineering and legal audit trail that connects what is delivered to
> how it was conceived. Which is another form of communication function
> that such models can fulfill.
best way to fulfill a goal, and I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. I
was really only addressing the situation of Alistair's correspondent,
who didn't mention the need for an audit trail.
William Pietri <william@...>
> Whilst both are new 'languages', personas are mostI'm not an agile guru, but I am a design and usability consultant -
> useful in communicating to the project team what the users (your
> actors) actually desire in terms of their goals, however getting
> empathy from the large majority of developers is an added challenge
> often with fruitless results.
so, here's my take on it, however wrong it may be. ;) Personas are
really more of a tool for determining a product's requirements, and
aren't really used by developers. Personas give a face and depth to
the possible user that's impossible to create without having a product
or prototype you can throw off a group of use-testers. Once you're at
the testing stage of the game, personas really help in determining
your tester base. They can even be a help to developers -- developers
sometimes have a hard time seeing what they're making through the eyes
of the user and personas can help with this - however, that implies
that the developer wants to know more about the user.
> Use-cases do not seem to bridge any communication gaps as they are aUse cases aren't one of my strengths, but they're HUGELY important if
> language in their own right that needs to be learnt by rote and being
> textual in nature are uninteresting and wordy. In fact I've never once
> seen an effective use-case because they're so difficult to get 'right'
> and even harder to communicate value. Also, the mere thought of asking
> one of my customers to attempt to understand one is tantamount to
> asking them to start coding for me. I can't see it and need
you want to determine a product's requirements -- especially if you're
developing a completely new application or site. Yes, use cases have
their own vocabulary you need to have translated if you're trying to
explain them to a group of stakeholders or team members who have never
used them. If you're someone responsible for presenting a series of
use-cases to a group of stakeholders or team members, you are going to
have to learn how to translate those use cases to your team and to the
stakeholders. Use cases can reduce the amount of guesswork and can be
a big help on determining each step of a complicated process. I can't
imagine ~not~ using them -- I'm just not very good at creating them.
> * Usability whilst useful in most contexts is just ' good design ' andHave you ever visited a web page that looked great visually, but had a
> therefore a misnomer. When was anything 'well designed' unusable?
hard time trying to figure out where the link to something important
was? As you rolled your mouse over the page, perhaps lots of neat
things happened - cool mouseover behaviors or other types of neat
animations are triggered, but you still couldn't find that link you
were looking for? Sure, the site looks AWESOME, but it's so cutting
edge that the novice user can't even figure the page out. (Flash sites
are SOOO guilty of this.)
When something is considered "well designed" in my book, it has to be
intuitive ~and~ visually appealing. The term "design" is a strange one
in site and application development. Design, for me, has two parts -
visual design and interface design; the two are very different. Sure,
both require knowledge of how to layout a page, but interface design
is where the "usability" happens. Perhaps visualize interface design
as the skeleton and visual design as the skin. (The muscle could
perhaps be called the backend and/or "programming".) Interface design
includes detailing each part of the site -- menu placement, page
behavior (mouseover or onClick), button vs. link usage and placement,
radio button vs. checkbox vs. alt/shift menu selection, content
placement, etc., etc. Visual design includes stylesheet creation,
color guide creation and usage, branding, typography, etc., etc...
Frank Lloyd Wright once said, "'Form follows function' - that has
been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a
spiritual union." I view "form" as the visual design and "function" as
the interaction design.
Okay. Babbling is over... Feel free to flame, correct, slap, or comment.
Senior Consultant, CC Pace, Inc.