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RE: [agile-usability] Could UI Engineering have lead to Wiki?

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  • Desilets, Alain
    [Alain] ... it ... [Lauren] I think this is a very relevant comment. would your user rather have a pretty good product (in terms of usability) now, or an
    Message 1 of 28 , Sep 2 5:43 AM
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      [Alain] 
       
        > Unfortunately, the more usable solution is MUCH, MUCH, MUCH harder to
       > implement (remember: only 10 pages of code for the simple solution!), yet it
       > is *NOT* MUCH, MUCH, MUCH easier to use. So it makes sense to go for the
       > implementationally simpler solution. 
       
      [Lauren] 
      I think this is a very relevant comment.  would your user rather have a "pretty good" product (in terms of usability) now, or an "awesome" product in 3 months time? 
       
      [Alain]
       
      I think you misunderstand what I meant by "MUCH, MUCH, MUCH harder to implement". The question is more:
       
      Would your user rather have a "pretty good" product now, or invest into one year of development with no assurance that the "awesome" product can be done?
       
      The reason it's not clear that it can be done is that dynamic HTML is not standard across browsers. So far, the only WYSIWIG HTML editing tools I have seen that run inside a browser can only run inside IE.
       
      I think the market has already answered that question. A google search for allinurl: wiki shows that there are over 13 million pages out there that are served by wiki clones. Not bad for something that started out as 10 pages of perl code (BTW: allinurl: asp = 250 million pages and allinurl: jsp = 43 millions pages). On the other hand, I don't know of too many sites (none actually) that are served by a server that allows WYSIWYG editing inside the browser.
       
      ----

      Alain Désilets, MASc
      Agent de recherches/Research Officer
      Institut de technologie de l'information du CNRC /
      NRC Institute for Information Technology

      alain.desilets@...
      Tél/Tel (613) 990-2813
      Facsimile/télécopieur: (613) 952-7151

      Conseil national de recherches Canada, M50, 1200 chemin Montréal,
      Ottawa (Ontario) K1A 0R6
      National Research Council Canada, M50, 1200 Montreal Rd., Ottawa, ON
      K1A 0R6

      Gouvernement du Canada | Government of Canada

       

       
       


    • Desilets, Alain
      [John] If a business need requested the features and functions that a wiki exhibits, gave a hint at the users, and a glance at the budget, then I hope that UI
      Message 2 of 28 , Sep 2 6:04 AM
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        [John]
        If a business need requested the features and functions that a wiki exhibits, gave a hint at the users, and a glance at the budget, then I hope that UI engineering would have arrived at the simple solution that is a wiki, as ward knows it :=) 
         
        -- [Alain]
        I believe a UI engineering process that focuses on optimising usability instead of business value probably would not (read my posting dated 9/1/2004 7:38 for details of that argument).
        ---- 
         
        1) If UI engineering would not have arrived at the wiki-like solution, then go and fix the engineering principles 
         
        -- [Alain]
        The fix is to make sure that you don't focus just on usability and that the vision for the system be created by a multidisciplinary team that collectively knows about the whole problem-solution space (business, users, UI designers and developpers). This is characterisitc of some interaction design methodologies (CD and GDD in particular), but I have read a lot of threads on this list recently that seemed to focus on usability only. So I don't think that this wisdom is well accepted in the UI design community.
        ----- 
         
        3) Who says there wasn't UI engineering involved??
         
        -- [Alain]:
        Well, let's find out. Who knows Ward well enough to ask him the question and have a good chance of getting a reply (I don't)?
        ----
      • Lauren Berry
        ... From: Desilets, Alain [mailto:alain.desilets@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca] Sent: Friday, 3 September 2004 12:43 a.m. To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com Subject: RE:
        Message 3 of 28 , Sep 2 2:17 PM
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          -----Original Message-----
          From: Desilets, Alain [mailto:alain.desilets@...]
          Sent: Friday, 3 September 2004 12:43 a.m.
          To: 'agile-usability@yahoogroups.com'
          Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Could UI Engineering have lead to Wiki?

          [Alain] 
           
            > Unfortunately, the more usable solution is MUCH, MUCH, MUCH harder to
           > implement (remember: only 10 pages of code for the simple solution!), yet it
           > is *NOT* MUCH, MUCH, MUCH easier to use. So it makes sense to go for the
           > implementationally simpler solution. 
           
          [Lauren] 
          I think this is a very relevant comment.  would your user rather have a "pretty good" product (in terms of usability) now, or an "awesome" product in 3 months time? 
           
          [Alain]
           
          I think you misunderstand what I meant by "MUCH, MUCH, MUCH harder to implement". The question is more:
           
          Would your user rather have a "pretty good" product now, or invest into one year of development with no assurance that the "awesome" product can be done?  
           
          [Lauren] yes i did understand, I completely agree, i was going for best case - worst case of course is the product is no better and is delivered late! I imagined everyone would have realised this was not guaranteed.
           
           
        • Hugh Beyer
          From: Jeff Patton [mailto:jpatton@acm.org] Sent: Wednesday, September 01, 2004 9:00 PM To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com Subject: [agile-usability] Re: Could
          Message 4 of 28 , Sep 2 7:35 PM
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            From: Jeff Patton [mailto:jpatton@...]
            Sent: Wednesday, September 01, 2004 9:00 PM
            To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: [agile-usability] Re: Could UI Engineering have lead to Wiki?
            --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Ron Jeffries
            <ronjeffries@X...> wrote: 
            . . . 
            > As far as I know, there are no "steps" for invention. I would work
            > intimately with people who had the problem, talking, doing paper
            > prototypes, and showing them running tested software throughout.

            I think there _are_ steps - sort of.  Not N steps that when followed
            always work, but rather lots of dependent techniques that when
            applied allow you to circle closer to solutions.  User centered
            design stuff like roles and role models, personas, task models,
            protoypes, collaboration, and conversation.  When in doubt, I pack my
            head full of interesting information gleamed from these techniques
            about the people the product serves and what I /really/ believe their
            goals to be, then I sleep on it.  Invention often occurrs at some
            later time, accidentally.  But, it's not so accidental when you
            consider the fertile ground you gave it to grow in. 

            I think there are lots of other ways to create fertile ground ground
            for invention, and I'm confident you know lots yourself.  [if anyone
            knows something about fertalizer creation it's Ron... ;-)]  I kinda
            like this UCD stuff because it acknowledges there is something you
            can do and provides some techniques that seem to be working - at
            least for me.   
            Right. What's key, is to bring the understanding of the technology and the user together. How you do that is up to you. Ron does it by getting out there and having lots of interaction with actual users. Jeff is using techniques such as roles and personas to articulate his understanding.
             
            It's fine to work off an unarticulated understanding of your users if you're alone or in a small team where everyone's working closely with each other and with the users. The more formal and explicit representations are useful as ways to talk to each other about what you're finding out; to record what you discover so you can come back to it later; and to explain to other stakeholders why you're doing what you're doing. A not inconsiderable advantage of having a room full of representations of the user is that it's real easy to show a skeptical manager why your design makes sense.
             
            I think you're like most "level 3" people - I think that's what
            Alistair would call you.  You're smart enough, you listen well
            enough, and think clearly enough that you do what seems to be the
            most appropriate thing, and it often works out right.  If it doesn't
            you learn and adjust.  I just don't think most folks are like you -
            at least not yet.  Just as XP gives some "wax-on-wax-off" sorts of
            guidelines for developers that ultimately help them evolve past the
            practices into thinking more clearly about their craft, I belive UCD
            provides a similar mental framework for designers to invent best
            solutions to user's problems.  I don't belive it's the only way -
            just as I don't believe it's necessary to develop good software test-
            first.  But, just as I wouldn't write code without using a unit
            testing framework, I wouldn't design without out applying at least
            rudimentary UCD approaches. 
            I would call what Ron describes user-centered design. UCD isn't about any particular technique, it's about designing the system from an intimate understanding of how the user works. Ron's describing a low-overhead way to do that involving lots of back-and-forth conversations and rapid iterations.
             
                Hugh
             
          • Chris Pehura
            I use techniques and processes for invention and creativity. Refer to Innovation Creation ... From: Hugh Beyer [mailto:beyer@incent.com] Sent: Thursday,
            Message 5 of 28 , Sep 3 10:34 PM
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              I use techniques and processes for invention and creativity. Refer to Innovation Creation
              -----Original Message-----
              From: Hugh Beyer [mailto:beyer@...]
              Sent: Thursday, September 02, 2004 9:36 PM
              To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Re: Could UI Engineering have lead to Wiki?

              From: Jeff Patton [mailto:jpatton@...]
              Sent: Wednesday, September 01, 2004 9:00 PM
              To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [agile-usability] Re: Could UI Engineering have lead to Wiki?
              --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, Ron Jeffries
              <ronjeffries@X...> wrote: 
              . . . 
              > As far as I know, there are no "steps" for invention. I would work
              > intimately with people who had the problem, talking, doing paper
              > prototypes, and showing them running tested software throughout.

              I think there _are_ steps - sort of.  Not N steps that when followed
              always work, but rather lots of dependent techniques that when
              applied allow you to circle closer to solutions.  User centered
              design stuff like roles and role models, personas, task models,
              protoypes, collaboration, and conversation.  When in doubt, I pack my
              head full of interesting information gleamed from these techniques
              about the people the product serves and what I /really/ believe their
              goals to be, then I sleep on it.  Invention often occurrs at some
              later time, accidentally.  But, it's not so accidental when you
              consider the fertile ground you gave it to grow in. 

              I think there are lots of other ways to create fertile ground ground
              for invention, and I'm confident you know lots yourself.  [if anyone
              knows something about fertalizer creation it's Ron... ;-)]  I kinda
              like this UCD stuff because it acknowledges there is something you
              can do and provides some techniques that seem to be working - at
              least for me.   
              Right. What's key, is to bring the understanding of the technology and the user together. How you do that is up to you. Ron does it by getting out there and having lots of interaction with actual users. Jeff is using techniques such as roles and personas to articulate his understanding.
               
              It's fine to work off an unarticulated understanding of your users if you're alone or in a small team where everyone's working closely with each other and with the users. The more formal and explicit representations are useful as ways to talk to each other about what you're finding out; to record what you discover so you can come back to it later; and to explain to other stakeholders why you're doing what you're doing. A not inconsiderable advantage of having a room full of representations of the user is that it's real easy to show a skeptical manager why your design makes sense.
               
              I think you're like most "level 3" people - I think that's what
              Alistair would call you.  You're smart enough, you listen well
              enough, and think clearly enough that you do what seems to be the
              most appropriate thing, and it often works out right.  If it doesn't
              you learn and adjust.  I just don't think most folks are like you -
              at least not yet.  Just as XP gives some "wax-on-wax-off" sorts of
              guidelines for developers that ultimately help them evolve past the
              practices into thinking more clearly about their craft, I belive UCD
              provides a similar mental framework for designers to invent best
              solutions to user's problems.  I don't belive it's the only way -
              just as I don't believe it's necessary to develop good software test-
              first.  But, just as I wouldn't write code without using a unit
              testing framework, I wouldn't design without out applying at least
              rudimentary UCD approaches. 
              I would call what Ron describes user-centered design. UCD isn't about any particular technique, it's about designing the system from an intimate understanding of how the user works. Ron's describing a low-overhead way to do that involving lots of back-and-forth conversations and rapid iterations.
               
                  Hugh
               

            • Dave Cronin
              In my experience, true invention is the spark that leaps across the gap which deductive/analytical thinking cannot. So in this way, there is no process to
              Message 6 of 28 , Sep 7 9:14 AM
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                In my experience, true invention is the spark that leaps across the gap
                which deductive/analytical thinking cannot. So in this way, there is no
                process to achieve invention.

                There are, however, many effective techniques for supporting the
                creative process by keeping it somewhat targeted, predictable and by
                tracking a solution's justification, fitness and ramifications.

                Supporting creativity with strong process and technique is critical if
                you consider yourself to be a professional at being inventive. The
                alternative is almost guaranteed churn and disorder. Which is (while
                possibly romantic to the "artist") not at all effective in the mostly
                rationalist world of design.



                > -----Original Message-----
                > From: Ron Jeffries [mailto:ronjeffries@...]
                > Subject: Re: [agile-usability] Re: Could UI Engineering have
                > lead to Wiki?
                >
                > On Wednesday, September 1, 2004, at 5:50:28 PM, Jeff Patton wrote:
                > > I'd be curious how you'd go about inventing something as
                > appropriate
                > > as a wiki? What steps would you go through to discover what a best
                > > solution might be?
                >
                > As far as I know, there are no "steps" for invention. I would
                > work intimately with people who had the problem, talking,
                > doing paper prototypes, and showing them running tested
                > software throughout. I'd try not to lock in technically or
                > otherwise, on anything.
                >
                > I'm not sure it would lead to a "best" solution, nor that a
                > "best" solution is possible, or even well-defined. I'm sure
                > it would lead to something that met the needs in cost and
                > function as well as the assembled multitudes were able to imagine.
                >
              • Chris Pehura
                Here s an innovation process. Refer to www.triz-journal.com ... From: Dave Cronin [mailto:dave@cooper.com] Sent: Tuesday, September 07, 2004 11:15 AM To:
                Message 7 of 28 , Sep 7 9:47 AM
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                  Here's an innovation process. Refer to www.triz-journal.com
                  -----Original Message-----
                  From: Dave Cronin [mailto:dave@...]
                  Sent: Tuesday, September 07, 2004 11:15 AM
                  To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                  Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Re: Could UI Engineering have lead to Wiki?

                  In my experience, true invention is the spark that leaps across the gap
                  which deductive/analytical thinking cannot. So in this way, there is no
                  process to achieve invention.

                  There are, however, many effective techniques for supporting the
                  creative process by keeping it somewhat targeted, predictable and by
                  tracking a solution's justification, fitness and ramifications.

                  Supporting creativity with strong process and technique is critical if
                  you consider yourself to be a professional at being inventive. The
                  alternative is almost guaranteed churn and disorder. Which is (while
                  possibly romantic to the "artist") not at all effective in the mostly
                  rationalist world of design.



                  > -----Original Message-----
                  > From: Ron Jeffries [mailto:ronjeffries@...]
                  > Subject: Re: [agile-usability] Re: Could UI Engineering have
                  > lead to Wiki?
                  >
                  > On Wednesday, September 1, 2004, at 5:50:28 PM, Jeff Patton wrote:
                  > > I'd be curious how you'd go about inventing something as
                  > appropriate
                  > > as a wiki?  What steps would you go through to discover what a best
                  > > solution might be?
                  >
                  > As far as I know, there are no "steps" for invention. I would
                  > work intimately with people who had the problem, talking,
                  > doing paper prototypes, and showing them running tested
                  > software throughout. I'd try not to lock in technically or
                  > otherwise, on anything.
                  >
                  > I'm not sure it would lead to a "best" solution, nor that a
                  > "best" solution is possible, or even well-defined. I'm sure
                  > it would lead to something that met the needs in cost and
                  > function as well as the assembled multitudes were able to imagine.
                  >


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