Usability - Call for papers - Cutter IT Journal
- Cross-post from AgileModeling@topica:
I've recently been reasoning out how Scrum manages risk, and one way
is through active End User involvement... seems Scrum might have
something interesting to say on Usability, although it would also
depend on the analysis practises you use inside your Sprints.
I'd encourage those with Usability experience to consider taking this
on, singly or in groups. Or perhaps someone is already working on it?
Here it is, fyi
Below is the call for papers from Guest Editor Carolyn Snyder
for the special October 2003 issue of the *Cutter IT Journal* on
Software Usability. Articles are due on 18 August 2003. We are
pleased to offer Journal authors a year's complimentary subscription
and 10 copies of the issue in which they are published. In
addition, we occasionally pull excerpts, along with the author's
bio, to include in our weekly Cutter Edge e-mail bulletin, which
reaches another 8,000 readers. We'd also be pleased to quote you,
or passages from your article, in Cutter press releases. If you
plan to be speaking at industry conferences, we can arrange to
make additional copies of the issue in which you're published
available for attendees of those speaking engagements - furthering
your own promotional efforts.
Group Publisher, Cutter Consortium
High-tech companies are hard pressed to remain profitable, aware
that they must adapt to our tough economic climate or die. End users
are also becoming ever more savvy about what they want and need.
Increasingly, survival depends on getting the product right the first
relying on the 2.0 release to incorporate customer feedback is a
In its broadest sense, software usability means involving end users
during the development process to ensure that the product meets their
needs. Most IT organizations recognize that software usability is
but in practice there are many barriers to the adoption of user-
methods in the development process. When schedules are already tight
and training budgets non-existent, introducing new methods can be
Although some companies have usability specialists on staff, others
rely on software engineers, tech writers, or other team members to
usability role along with their other duties. Some people resist
uncertain how to begin. Even companies who have incorporated user-
methods may worry that they're not doing enough, or that they're not
efficient as they could be.
Since many of the following themes can be controversial, in addition
single-authored articles we are inviting co-authors who have opposing
to submit joint articles. (Also, PLEASE NOTE that articles should be
SOFTWARE usability and NOT WEB usability.) Here are some suggestions
for article themes for this issue:
* Overview of user-centered methods appropriate to software
personas, use cases, task analysis, prototyping, usability testing,
* Case studies of software projects that produced significant
(preferably measurable) results from user-centered activities
* An explanation of how usability methods compare with traditional
marketing methods. For instance, when would you use a focus group
vs. a usability test?
* How do you decide which type(s) of user-centered activities are most
important for your project? For example, if you are designing a system
to support a work process, task analysis is an important early step.
if you're designing software for consumers, field studies may yield
that will keep you from developing the wrong product. And is
always needed, or is it sometimes appropriate to skip it?
* How do you schedule usability activities into an already full
* When it comes to usability, is it the case that something is
better than nothing, or does that mindset result in bad decisions
based on faulty information? How important is it for the methods used
scientific and repeatable? (This topic is nicely controversial and
itself well to two opposing viewpoints.)
* Is usability a marketing function or a QA function? Or both? How
should it be managed? Where does it belong on the organizational
* What should be the role of prototyping in software design? Are
prototypes best suited for quick, throwaway efforts, or should they be
evolved into real designs? And who is the prototype for - is it for
programmers, to work out technical issues? Marketing and upper
management, to help them formulate strategy? Interface designers,
to figure out how it should look and operate? Usability specialists,
can test it with users and get their feedback? (One answer is that
all valid uses, but somewhat incompatible with each other. Teams who
a prototype without first agreeing on its purpose may find themselves
* How do you manage usability issues along with more conventional bug
tracking (including how to prioritize them)?
* Usability staff vs. consultants - which is right for your
* How have agile methods, with their extensive customer involvement
frequent feedback cycles, affected usability? Are agile methods an
substitute for usability testing, or are there specialized aspects of
agile methods do not address?
Most Cutter IT Journal articles are approx 2,500 - 3,500 words long,
whatever graphics are appropriate. If you have any other questions,
don't hesitate to contact bly-@.... Editorial guidelines are
available at http://www.cutter.com/itjournal/edguide.html.
We are inviting articles on the above subjects. We will also consider
other subjects that are related to software usability. The deadline
of articles is 18 August 2003. Since we only have room for a limited
articles, however, it's important that you contact me as soon as
description of the paper you have in mind.