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[usage-centered] User validation of role and UC models

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  • kiril.okun@capitalone.com
    Hello, I am delighted to have discovered this group because it promises answers and experience sharing which we desperately need. A bit of background: As a
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 20, 1999
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      Hello,

      I am delighted to have discovered this group because it promises
      answers and experience sharing which we desperately need.
      A bit of background:
      As a budding Human Factors group within a technologically oriented
      financial institution we have to deal with a great deal of resistance
      from the software development groups, and ignorance of HF benefits from
      the business managers. In addition, the pressures of budgets and
      timelines are ever-present. That is why I was intrigued when I heard
      Larry Constantine speak at this year's CHI. I bought the book and
      convinced some people to give it a try.

      The project:
      The new system will replace the existing one in the company's
      collections call centers. We have a few thousand users with different
      levels of domain and system knowledge, mostly performing standard tasks
      with some exceptions. Our business users, managers and user
      representatives are not familiar with software methodologies and
      abstractions.
      Hence lies the first problem we have encountered: How do we present
      our models in a way understandable for our users in order to receive
      validation and feedback? The book states that showing final versions
      of the models would be sufficient. On the other hand our user
      representatives think that the phone agents and their managers will
      have a hard time validating their work processes described on a higher
      level of abstraction.
      Does anybody have any experience or thoughts about this?

      Kiril Okun
      Capital One Human Factors Center
    • Larry Constantine
      Kiril, We find that use cases are a near-perfect medium for communicating with users and clients. Some occasionally do find essential use cases to be too
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 20, 1999
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        Kiril,

        We find that use cases are a near-perfect medium for communicating with
        users and clients. Some occasionally do find essential use cases to be too
        abstract. In these situations we use concrete narratives derived from our
        essential narratives. I would recommend a trial run before concluding that
        your users can't cope with the abstract form.

        In validating a use case model, basically we say to the users, "Here are all
        the various things we understand that you need to accomplish and how they
        fit together. Does this make sense? If the system somehow allows you to do
        all these things, will you be able to do your job?" The validation of use
        cases can be part of a continuous refinement process. We have also done use
        case modeling collaboratively with users (Joint Essential Modeling), which
        is a good way to get a first-cut model that can be refined later into final
        form.

        In validating use cases with users and clients, we find it very important to
        incorporate preconditions and asynchronous extensions as well as showing
        unordered or partially ordered interaction. (See
        http://foruse.com/ApplicationNotes/AppNote3.htm.) Used appropriately, these
        can make the narratives much more realistic and recognizable to users.

        Abstract prototypes are problematic for many users. They are not used to
        seeing the contents of screens or pages divorced from how these look and
        function. A quasi-realistic paper prototype is easier for most users to
        understand. Some teams have had good success with a form intermediate
        between an abstract prototype (in the form of content and navigation models)
        and a realistic paper prototype. Some Web designers use what they call a
        "wire-frame" model which shows the layout of pages/forms in terms of
        outlines that block out how the interaction context is organized, how the
        available screen real estate is divided, and where various features will be
        found. You might find this useful for getting early feedback from your users
        on your design concepts.

        --Larry Constantine
        Director of Research & Development
        Constantine & Lockwood, Ltd.
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