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Re: [agile-usability] Abuse of Usage

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  • Jared M. Spool
    ... I wonder which body part I am? Jared Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering 4 Lookout Lane, Unit 4d, Middleton, MA 01949 978
    Message 1 of 12 , Apr 5, 2006
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      At 01:02 PM 4/4/2006, you wrote:
      >I doubt I am "the face of usability."

      I wonder which body part I am?

      Jared


      Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
      4 Lookout Lane, Unit 4d, Middleton, MA 01949
      978 777-9123 jspool@... http://www.uie.com
      Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks
    • Tim Wright
      On behalf of the Wellingtonians in New Zealand (where Mike is based) who have met you and do understand Usage-Centered Design (I taught it at the University in
      Message 2 of 12 , Apr 6, 2006
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        On behalf of the Wellingtonians in New Zealand (where Mike is based) who have met you and do understand Usage-Centered Design (I taught it at the University in Wellington for a couple of years), sorry. Some of us do understand Usage-Centered Design and think it is fantastic.

        I am still a *big* advocate of user-testing, especially in organisations who are unwilling to change their design process - I have found that in my current organisation (large government department) it is the politics of process ownership that get in the way of any consistent methodology. Perhaps I'll write a paper about this one day.

        Dr Tim Wright


        On 4/5/06, Larry Constantine <lconstantine@...> wrote:
        Toward the end of a screed misrepresenting then attacking my views and
        methods, Michael Andrews, a blogger in New Zealand adds:

        "I focus on Constantine's views in particular because for many people in the
        agile programming world, he is the face of usability. [Disclosure: I've
        never met Constantine or even know anyone who has. My criticisms of are the
        methods he advocates, not of him as a person.] Constantine is a major writer
        on the Yahoo agile usability list, a list more dominated by programmers than
        usability professionals. The people-free "usability solution" offered by
        usage centered design is no doubt appealing to some programmers. But if
        agile programmers are going to learn what usability is about, they need to
        get a representative presentation of usability, especially the importance of
        user testing."

        I doubt I am "the face of usability." As regulars on this forum know, I am
        actually only one occasional contributor to what is a broad and open
        community with diverse opinions. My posting here is to reiterate for the
        record so this community remains clear about what my opinions actually are.

        It is both unfair and incorrect to write that "Constantine fashions himself
        as a usability expert, but he dismisses what 99% of other usability experts
        consider the foundation of usability: usability testing." I do not dismiss
        it, nor am I a "critic of usability testing." I have questioned the
        over-reliance on testing, particularly when it is to the exclusion of better
        up-front design based on understanding of real user needs, and I have
        documented some of the little acknowledged downsides of usability testing,
        which might put me in a minority but does not make me wrong. Neither do I
        reject testing as "too expensive and inefficient."

        In a nutshell this has been and remains my position: Usability testing is
        always a good idea. The better your design is the less user testing will be
        needed to achieve a given degree of usability. Depending primarily on
        usability testing alone to find problems is more expensive and less
        efficient than combining it with other approaches, such as, collaborative
        usability inspections, which Andrew dismisses as "more people chatting while
        sitting around a conference table." (Those of you who have participated in
        one of our usability inspections know it is a highly structured review with
        assigned roles, formal definitions, and strict rules, one of which prohibits
        "chatting.")

        I suppose I should not take it too personally, since he misunderstands and
        slights agile methods and programmers too, but I do, particularly when he
        wrongly attacks and attributes to me individually the book co-authored with
        Lucy Lockwood. Yes, we did cite a lot of our own work, because at that time
        much of the most relevant work was ours, but then, too, we had far more
        citations to others. And, yes, we did not devote many pages to
        testing--because we were writing a book about DESIGN not testing. A check of
        any book about usability testing will reveal not a lot said about design.

        Which brings me to the subtext of my message. I contribute to this forum
        because it is a genuine dialogue, open and fair, with diverse views and
        strong opinions, but without malice and minimal misrepresentation, a place
        where misunderstandings are quickly countered and corrected. Unfortunately,
        the blogosphere is something different. 


        --Larry Constantine, IDSA
          Director, Lab-USE - The Laboratory for Usage-centered Software Engineering
          University of Madeira, Funchal, Portugal



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        --
        Kei te kōrero tiki au. Kei te kōrero tiki koe. Ka kōrero tiki tāua. Kōrero ai tiki tāua.
      • William Pietri
        Hi, Larry. ... I haven t seen his blog, but I wouldn t sweat it. My impression of your views is basically what you state. And as the guy who may be
        Message 3 of 12 , Apr 6, 2006
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          Hi, Larry.

          Larry Constantine wrote:
          > Toward the end of a screed misrepresenting then attacking my views and
          > methods, Michael Andrews, a blogger in New Zealand [...]
          >
          > In a nutshell this has been and remains my position: Usability testing is
          > always a good idea. The better your design is the less user testing will be
          > needed to achieve a given degree of usability. [...]
          >
          > I suppose I should not take it too personally [...] I contribute to this forum
          > because it is a genuine dialogue, open and fair [...] Unfortunately,
          > the blogosphere is something different.

          I haven't seen his blog, but I wouldn't sweat it. My impression of your
          views is basically what you state. And as the guy who may be
          single-handedly responsible for the apparent overrepresentation of
          developers here, hopefully I'm a good proxy for the view of an outsider,
          somebody who's interest in usability is pragmatic rather than a chosen
          career.

          As you say, the different media can suit different purposes. Given that
          the fellow has posted here exactly once, it's hard for me to take him
          particularly seriously. If he had wanted to understand, he could have
          asked questions or started a discussion. I gather his purpose was
          instead to rant. When dogs howl at the moon, it's never clear to me how
          much the moon is the problem.

          William
        • Larry Constantine
          Thanks for the support over the years, Tim. I actually know Wellington well as a repository of smart people who get it and don t go around misrepresenting
          Message 4 of 12 , Apr 7, 2006
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            Thanks for the support over the years, Tim. I actually know Wellington well
            as a repository of smart people who "get it" and don't go around
            misrepresenting things.

            Tim wrote:
            =====
            I am still a *big* advocate of user-testing, especially in organisations who
            are unwilling to change their design process - I have found that in my
            current organisation (large government department) it is the politics of
            process ownership that get in the way of any consistent methodology. Perhaps
            I'll write a paper about this one day.
            =====

            Very good point. Do write that paper--maybe sooner than someday. If a group
            does nothing else, they should at least do user testing. Ironically, I
            frequently find myself the strong advocate of testing with organizations
            that are unwilling to budget for it. I may be a great designer, but it gives
            me the willies to think of software being released without at least
            selective user testing.

            --Larry Constantine, IDSA
            Director, Lab-USE - The Laboratory for Usage-centered Software Engineering
            Professor, Department of Mathematics and Engineering
            University of Madeira, Funchal, Portugal
            Chief Scientist | Constantine & Lockwood Ltd | www.foruse.com
            58 Kathleen Circle | Rowley, MA 01969
            t: +1 978.948.5012 | f: +1 978.948.5036


            ________________________________________
            From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
            [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Tim Wright
            Sent: Thursday, April 06, 2006 1:13 PM
            To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: Re: [agile-usability] Abuse of Usage


            On behalf of the Wellingtonians in New Zealand (where Mike is based) who
            have met you and do understand Usage-Centered Design (I taught it at the
            University in Wellington for a couple of years), sorry. Some of us do
            understand Usage-Centered Design and think it is fantastic.

            I am still a *big* advocate of user-testing, especially in organisations who
            are unwilling to change their design process - I have found that in my
            current organisation (large government department) it is the politics of
            process ownership that get in the way of any consistent methodology. Perhaps
            I'll write a paper about this one day.

            Dr Tim Wright

            On 4/5/06, Larry Constantine <lconstantine@...> wrote:
            Toward the end of a screed misrepresenting then attacking my views and
            methods, Michael Andrews, a blogger in New Zealand adds:

            "I focus on Constantine's views in particular because for many people in the
            agile programming world, he is the face of usability. [Disclosure: I've
            never met Constantine or even know anyone who has. My criticisms of are the
            methods he advocates, not of him as a person.] Constantine is a major writer
            on the Yahoo agile usability list, a list more dominated by programmers than
            usability professionals. The people-free "usability solution" offered by
            usage centered design is no doubt appealing to some programmers. But if
            agile programmers are going to learn what usability is about, they need to
            get a representative presentation of usability, especially the importance of
            user testing."

            I doubt I am "the face of usability." As regulars on this forum know, I am
            actually only one occasional contributor to what is a broad and open
            community with diverse opinions. My posting here is to reiterate for the
            record so this community remains clear about what my opinions actually are.

            It is both unfair and incorrect to write that "Constantine fashions himself
            as a usability expert, but he dismisses what 99% of other usability experts
            consider the foundation of usability: usability testing." I do not dismiss
            it, nor am I a "critic of usability testing." I have questioned the
            over-reliance on testing, particularly when it is to the exclusion of better
            up-front design based on understanding of real user needs, and I have
            documented some of the little acknowledged downsides of usability testing,
            which might put me in a minority but does not make me wrong. Neither do I
            reject testing as "too expensive and inefficient."

            In a nutshell this has been and remains my position: Usability testing is
            always a good idea. The better your design is the less user testing will be
            needed to achieve a given degree of usability. Depending primarily on
            usability testing alone to find problems is more expensive and less
            efficient than combining it with other approaches, such as, collaborative
            usability inspections, which Andrew dismisses as "more people chatting while
            sitting around a conference table." (Those of you who have participated in
            one of our usability inspections know it is a highly structured review with
            assigned roles, formal definitions, and strict rules, one of which prohibits
            "chatting.")

            I suppose I should not take it too personally, since he misunderstands and
            slights agile methods and programmers too, but I do, particularly when he
            wrongly attacks and attributes to me individually the book co-authored with
            Lucy Lockwood. Yes, we did cite a lot of our own work, because at that time
            much of the most relevant work was ours, but then, too, we had far more
            citations to others. And, yes, we did not devote many pages to
            testing--because we were writing a book about DESIGN not testing. A check of
            any book about usability testing will reveal not a lot said about design.

            Which brings me to the subtext of my message. I contribute to this forum
            because it is a genuine dialogue, open and fair, with diverse views and
            strong opinions, but without malice and minimal misrepresentation, a place
            where misunderstandings are quickly countered and corrected. Unfortunately,
            the blogosphere is something different. 


            --Larry Constantine, IDSA
              Director, Lab-USE - The Laboratory for Usage-centered Software Engineering
              University of Madeira, Funchal, Portugal

            ________________________________________
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            •  To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
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            ai tiki tāua.
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            ________________________________________
            YAHOO! GROUPS LINKS

            •  Visit your group "agile-usability" on the web.
             
            •  To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
             agile-usability-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
             
            •  Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.

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