Chapter 3

Managing Design Processes


With the expansion of computer use to more than just technically oriented programmers, the complex interfaces of the past are no longer accepted. The current user population are not as dedicated to the technology as they used to be. Their use of computers are tied more for their work needs and the tasks they perform, while the use of computers as entertainment has increased. Designers need to observe current user’s trends to produce high-quality interfaces that accommodate the users’ skills, goals, and preferences. Designers seek direct interaction with users during requirements and feature definition, the design phase, the development process, and throughout the system life-cycle through iterative design methods. Usability engineering has evolved into a recognized discipline with maturing practices and a growing set of standards.

Organizational Design:

Organizations recognize the role of usability for productivity. With the increase of novice users, products with similar functionality can succeed or fail due in part to good usability engineering. A shift in focus towards usability constitutes an organizational change to be managed. The benefits of this change are; shorter learning times, performance, error reduction. The Return on Investment (ROI) in major corporations is always questioned, the benefits must be made clear. As projects become more complex, the critical specialization in the field of usability and HCI increases. Their are interface-development activities where the ROI for usability analysis is not immediately apparent, but usability of the delivered systems crucial for success. Some industries, like aerospace, have Human Systems Integration (HSI) requirements that deal with human factors, usability, display design, navigation, and son, while meeting customer requirements. As user-interface design matures, projects grow in complexity, size, and importance where the UI designs take on new perspectives. Usability engineers and user-interface architects (UX) gain experience in managing organizational change. Design is inherently creative and unpredictable.

Method in Recognizing the creative and unpredictable:

  • Design is a process, not an end-state and cannot be adequately represented statically
  • The design process is non-hierarchical; it is neither strictly bottom-up or top-down.
  • The design process is radically transformational; involves the development of partial and interim solutions
  • Design intrinsically involves the discovery of new goals.

The Four Pillars of Design:

Used to help user interface architects to turn ideas into successful systems, though not guaranteed to work flawlessly.
A set of fundamentals to assist interface designers optimize usability. These are benefits that are derived from Academic Research and if used properly will assist the designer in creating a Successful Interface.

  • Ethnographic Observation provides User-interface Requirements
  • Theories and Models provide a means of developing Guidelines Documents & Process
  • Algorithms and Prototypes assist the development of User-interface Software Tools which can be used for Rapid-Prototyping.
  • Controlled Experimentation provides Expert Reviews & Usability Testing

User Interface requirements
Soliciting and clearly specifying user requirements is major key to success in any development activity for a successful end result. System Requirements, whether it be hardware, software, system performance, or reliability, must be clearly stated and agreed upon. Team must have clear understanding of requirements. Tools which construct interactive user interfaces must support rapid development and component and modular development through ethnographic observation. The ability to rapidly prototype the look-and-feel leads to early and immediate feedback.

Guidelines Documents and Processes

  • Elicit user requirements and mutually agree to them
    • System requirements and user requirements are aligned through interface design
  • The more thorough and complete these are, the better chance of success
    • Incomplete and vague requirements create an interface adrift
  • Examples
    • Performance requirements
    • Functional requirements
    • Interface requirements.

User interface Software Tools
*Use simple and handy tools for early prototyping:*

  • Word, PowerPoint, Visio, etc.
  • PageMaker, Illustrator, Photoshop.
  • Flash, Javascript, Processing, Ajax

Powerful IDEs

  • Visual Studio
  • C#, VisualBasic.NET, Expression Designer, etc.
  • Java SDK
  • Java Look and Feel Design Guidelines, Swing/JFC, LWUIT

Expert Reviews and Usability Testing

Development methodologies:

Many software development projects fail to achieve their goals due to poor communication between Developers and their business clients/users.

  • Successful developers
    • work careful to understand the business's needs and refine their skills in eliciting accurate requirements
    • also know that careful attention to user centered design issues during software development dramatically reduces development time and cost.
    • Design methodologies include: GUIDE, STUDIO, OVID
  • Rapid contextual design Examples
    • Contextual Inquiry
      • Field interviews and observation
    • Interpretation sessions and working modeling
      • Team discussions on workflow and organizational issues
    • Model consolidation and affinity diagram building
      • Synthesize observations and share with target population
    • Persona development
      • Develop fictitious characters and enact scenarios
    • Visioning
      • Walk through scenarios using the developed persona
    • Storyboarding
      • Design users tasks with visuals and sequencing
    • User environment design
      • Comprehensive and coherent representation, built from the storyboards
    • Paper prototypes and mock-up interviews
      • Testing on paper

Ethnographic Observation:

  • Early stages of most methodologies include observation of users. A user group constitutes a unique culture so,
    • Ethnographic methods are appropriate as they are used to observe people within their own culture
    • Ethnographic methods allow for immersion by listening, observing and asking questions
  • Non-traditional ethnography
    • User-interface designers observe and listen in order to create designs which improve and otherwise change the users’ lives
    • User-interface designers do not have weeks and/months to observe, they must keep it short
  • Intentions for observation
    • Influence design
    • Follow a valid process

Guidelines for an Ethnographic Study

  • Preparation
    • Understand policies in work environments and family values in homes.
    • Familiarize yourself with the existing interface and its history.
    • Set initial goals and prepare questions
    • Gain access and permission to observe or interview.
  • Field Study
    • Establish a rapport with all users
    • Observe and collect (objective/subjective, qualitative/quantitative) data
    • Follow any leads that emerge from the visits and record you visits.
  • Analysis
    • Compile and organize (databases)
    • Quantify and summarize (statistics)
    • Reduce and interpret data
    • Refine and revisit goals
  • Report
  • Consider multiple audiences and goals
  • Prepare a report and present findings

Participatory Design

Direct and collaborative involvement, including the designers and users, in designing the interfaces and organization will use. User-involvement brings richer and more accurate information. Users have an elevated sense of purpose when directly involved. Costs may increase as the project is slowed by this approach

Levels of participation:

Scenario Development

When a current interface is being redesigned, reliable data about the distribution of task frequencies and sequences is an enormous asset. If current data do not exist, usage logs can quickly provide insight.

  • How is the interface used?
    • What is the frequency wit which each user performs each task


  • “Day-in-the-life” helpful to characterize what happens when users perform typical tasks.
  • Analogs and metaphors
  • Describes novel systems
  • Write scenarios of usage and then if possible, act them out as a form of theater, effective with multiple user cooperation.

Useful applications

  • Control rooms, cockpits, financial trading rooms and other places where people must coordinate

Notable uses of Scenarios(page 118 of text book)

Social Impacts

Interactive systems often have a dramatic impact on large numbers of users. To minimize risks, a thoughtful statement of anticipated impacts circulated among stakeholders can be a useful process for eliciting productive suggestions early in development.

* Inspired by the environmental impact statement
* Encourages early and wide discussion

Examples of a social impact statement

  • Describe the new system and it's benefits
    • Convey the high-level goals of the new system
    • identify the stakeholders.
    • Identify specific benefits
  • Address concerns and potential barriers
    • Anticipate changes in job functions.
    • address security and privacy issues
    • Describe accountability and responsibility for system misuse and failure.
    • Avoid potential biases.
    • weigh individual rights
    • assess trade-offs between centralization and decentralization
    • Preserve democratic principles
    • ensure divers access
    • promote simplicity.
  • Outline the development process
    • Present an estimated project schedule
    • propose a process for making decisions discuss expectations of how stake holders will be involved.
    • recognize needs for staff,training and hardware.
    • propose a plan for backups of data
    • outline a plan for migrating to the new system.
    • Describe a plan for measuring the success of the new system.

Legal Issues

As user interfaces have become more prominent, serious legal issues have emerged.

  • Privacy
    • Medical,legal, financial, an data that can be used for unapproved access illegal tampering. .
  • Safety and reliability
    • User interfaces for aircraft, automobiles, medical equipment, military systems, utility control rooms anything that can effect a life or death situation.
  • Paten protection for software
    • developers who patent software who attempt to recover time and money spent on the project and make a profit.
  • Piracy, P2P, file-sharing, etc.
    • Do customers have the right to store the information electronically for later use, can they share this copy, do you own the contents of an email.
  • Freedom of Speech
    • Do users have the right to make controversial or potential offensive statements through e-mail or list servers?
  • Localization:
    • International, Federal, State, Municipality, etc.
Midterm Exam
Chapter 2
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