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RE: [agile-usability] Re: The missing manifesto

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  • Jon Meads
    Comments inserted. -- jon ... From: Robin Dymond [mailto:robind@criticalmass.com] Sent: Friday, November 26, 2004 10:24 AM To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
    Message 1 of 75 , Nov 26, 2004
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      Comments inserted.
              -- jon
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Robin Dymond [mailto:robind@...]
      Sent: Friday, November 26, 2004 10:24 AM
      To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Re: The missing manifesto

      Hi Jon,
       
      OK, I had to take the bait. :) I'm sure others will too.
       
      re: we don't need no stinkin' manifesto!
       
      Your stated position takes a number of assumptions:
       - That people outside the xCD community know what xCD is                     Yes. 
       - That people outside the xCD community care or think xCD is important     Yes. 
       - That people associate the xCD field with improving software development     Not necessarily.  No manager I have ever met has ever stated that usability was not important. I even had one manager tell me that he wanted a "compelling user experience" to be provided for users of system administration software (think about that for a bit).
       
      My perspective is that in general these assumptions are false. People don't know these things until they have taken a "chance" (in their mind) and involved xCD in their project, and received a visible benefit. This is the same adoption issue Agile methods face with traditional PMs everywhere. 
       
      My guess is that a number of people have tried their misconception of how usability is done and came to the conclusion that it's an extra cost item and doesn't add much more value than just having the programmer "think like a user" or asking the user for feedback on the design (via demos). 
       
       
       What a manifesto could do is to bring together a common set of xCD values, and provide a banner/brand under which all of various xCD camps could take a common message forward to those looking to advance their capabilities. 
       
      And who is it that wants to advance their capabilities?  I think the UCD community already has that perspective. I posit that management has an understanding of the values but don't understand what's required.
       
       
      Speaking from my own experience, when first considering iterative methods in 2002, the Agile banner and "value statement" helped me understand and navigate the various methods, and place them in a context. It also helped to understand that I did not need to adopt all of the seemingly dogmatic components of extreme programming to achieve many of the benefits from Agile methods. Now that I have spent considerable time studying and running projects using "Agile" methods, I know their benefits, weaknesses, and can tailor the techniques to the business situation and project. 
       
      I would suspect you are right within the domain of agile development. The critical issues remains: How do we integrate usability methodology with the agile methodology.
       
       
      re: Interaction/UI design up front
       
      As a xCD outsider very interested in developing the best products, I think the xCD has much to offer, but I know Agile methods are the best set of software development and management practices yet developed. I will not give these practices up. 
       
      Don't think you should - but I believe that there is more to good development than current agile practices (or I still have a lot to learn and will discover otherwise).
       
       
      I am not against doing some up front work, but completing the interaction design before developers are involved means: re-work, wasted time, frustration, painful client management, and change orders. This is a fact at my current employer. 
       
      My experience is just the opposite. But let's move away from the absolutes. We don't need to complete interaction design before we begin programming but there should be a certain amount done up front. The question of how much that is should be a topic of discussion. And we don't need to hold off all programming before we have significant amount of the interaction design done. What coding can be done early and what should be done later is another topic of discussion.
       
       
      What compromises can be made? Can we do part of the UI design, eg. take a user task, such as an ecommerce buy flow, segment that and deliver the interaction design, and working software against that in an iteration? 
       
      This is what we need to explore. 
       
      cheers,
      Robin. 
       
      Ditto,
      jon 


      From: Jon Meads [mailto:jon@...]
      Sent: Friday, November 26, 2004 10:13 AM
      To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Re: The missing manifesto

      I'm not convinced that a manifesto is needed for UCD. Having been in the UCD community for over 20 years, I think most of us realize the following:
      • Usability is critical to success use of an interactive system or product;
      • Usability is not the same as User Experience but affects it greatly;
      • Both are obtained by focusing design on "what the user can do" as opposed to what the system/product can do;
      • You need to design for usability and this requires understanding:
        • who the users are,
        • what the context of use will be, and
        • what factors will affect their interaction.
      The problem we have is that too many people (read: "managers") have various misconceptions about what's required to make this happen. These include:
      • Finding usability problems can be left until the product is completed when usability testing is done;
      • All usability problems are presentation layer problems and most are simple matter of layout, graphic design, and use of controls;
      • Usability can be obtained easily because:
        • Usability is just common sense,
        • All you need to do is think like a user,
        • It's just a matter of following design guidelines,
        • Usability is designing for the typical user,
        • It only requires that you "involve" the users [and let them provide input and critique the design].
      I'm firmly convinced that creating usable designs that provide good or better user experiences requires taking a reasonable amount of time up-front to elicit and understand stakeholder objectives and goals, to study the user and their context of use, and to understand the application domain. This needs to be done before you design and a good portion of the UI design should be done and tested before most coding gets started. The tricky part is figuring out how much UI design is done before you start coding and what coding can be allowed before getting the UI done.
       
      As I see it, the biggest problem we have in getting usable products developed is a rush by project management to begin coding before we have a sufficient understanding of what it is that needs to be developed. Remember, to the user, the UI is the product.
       
      Cheers,
      jon
       

                 Jon Meads
                 Usability Architects, Inc.
                 PO Box 3222
                 Kirkland, WA 98083-3222
       
          Voice: 425-827-9296
           Cell: 206-409-7548
            Fax: 425-827-6692
          Email: jon@...
       
         Specialists in User-Centered Design & Engineering
             http://www.usability-architects.com/




    • Petteri Hiisilä
      Great link. Thanks. Even if it was mentioned, it is worth repeating. - Petteri ... -- Petteri Hiisilä Palveluarkkitehti / Interaction Designer / Alma Media
      Message 75 of 75 , Feb 26, 2005
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        Great link. Thanks. Even if it was mentioned, it is worth repeating.

        - Petteri


        Cummins, Darin wrote:
        > This has probably already been mentioned but there is a Java
        > Look-And-Feel (skin) called Napkin that makes the entire UI (even a
        > working one) look like it was drawn on a napkin.
        >
        >
        >
        > http://napkinlaf.sourceforge.net <http://napkinlaf.sourceforge.net/>
        >
        >
        >
        > Ken Arnold created this PLAF for exactly the reason you are discussing
        > here: to make a prototype provisional so stake holders won’t say “Great,
        > the UI is done so we should be ready to deliver in a few days”.
        >
        >
        >
        > --Darin
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
        >
        > *From:* Jim Kauffman [mailto:jkauff@...]
        > *Sent:* Friday, February 25, 2005 3:48 PM
        > *To:* agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        > *Subject:* RE: [agile-usability] Risks of prototypes
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >> -----Original Message-----
        >> From: hj [mailto:hjohnstone@...]
        >> Sent: Friday, February 25, 2005 1:13 PM
        >> To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
        >> Subject: RE: [agile-usability] Risks of prototypes
        >>
        >> So now I make sure my prototypes are very visibly mock-ups.
        >
        > When I worked for Cognetics Corporation, Paul Hoffman created a Visio
        > stencil with all the UI widgets you'd ever want--and made them look like
        > they were drawn with crayons! Clients always knew his prototypes were
        > mock-ups.
        >
        > BTW, Paul is one of the few people I've ever known who was equally talented
        > at graphic design, UI design, and programming. What an integrated brain!
        >
        >
        > Jim K.
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
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        --
        Petteri Hiisilä
        Palveluarkkitehti / Interaction Designer /
        Alma Media Interactive Oy / NWS /
        +358505050123 / petteri.hiisila@...

        "I was told there's a miracle for each day that I try"
        - John Petrucci
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