articles regarding nontraditional UCD process?

16 Sep 2004 - 11:46am
9 years ago
9 replies
929 reads
Helena Mentis
2004

I am looking for journal articles or conference proceedings which
discuss how the academic, traditional UCD process does not always work
in every situation in "the real world". Either case studies, surveys,
or formal studies. I am putting this out to this listserv since I have
found few articles myself and yet feel that this is the case for many
practitioners grappling with applying their training to their projects.

--Helena Mentis

........................................................................
.

Human Computer Interfaces :: Command & Control

Lockheed Martin MS2 - Moorestown, NJ

856.359.1591

........................................................................
.

Comments

16 Sep 2004 - 1:16pm
whitneyq
2010

How about journal articles that discuss how ANY academic, traditional
process does not always fit comfortably into the real world.

But...who guards the gateways to the journals?

At 12:46 PM 9/16/2004 -0400, Mentis, Helena M wrote:
>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>I am looking for journal articles or conference proceedings which
>discuss how the academic, traditional UCD process does not always work
>in every situation in "the real world". Either case studies, surveys,
>or formal studies. I am putting this out to this listserv since I have
>found few articles myself and yet feel that this is the case for many
>practitioners grappling with applying their training to their projects.
>
>
>
>--Helena Mentis
>
>
>
>........................................................................
>.
>
>Human Computer Interfaces :: Command & Control
>
>Lockheed Martin MS2 - Moorestown, NJ
>
>856.359.1591
>
>........................................................................
>.
>
>
>
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Whitney Quesenbery
Whitney Interactive Design, LLC
w. www.WQusability.com
e. whitneyq at wqusability.com
p. 908-638-5467

UPA - www.usabilityprofessionals.org
STC Usability SIG: www.stcsig.org/usability

16 Sep 2004 - 1:32pm
Richard Zobarich
2004

Ms. Mentis,

You may find these two articles interesting:

Are the notions of thouroughness, efficiency and validity valid in HCI
practice? (Gitte Lindgaard)
:: http://www.carleton.ca/hotlab/hottopics/Articles/Gitte_usability.html ::

But consider - Damaged Merchandise? A Review of Experiments that Compare
Usability Evaluation Methods (Wayne Gray & M. Salzman)
:: http://www.rpi.edu/~grayw/pubs/papers/Gray&Salzman98_HCI.html ::

=Richard Zobarich

Mentis, Helena M wrote:

>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>I am looking for journal articles or conference proceedings which
>discuss how the academic, traditional UCD process does not always work
>in every situation in "the real world". Either case studies, surveys,
>or formal studies. I am putting this out to this listserv since I have
>found few articles myself and yet feel that this is the case for many
>practitioners grappling with applying their training to their projects.
>
>
>
>--Helena Mentis
>
>
>
>........................................................................
>.
>
>Human Computer Interfaces :: Command & Control
>
>Lockheed Martin MS2 - Moorestown, NJ
>
>856.359.1591
>
>........................................................................
>
>
>

16 Sep 2004 - 3:02pm
Lyle_Kantrovich...
2004

Helena,

You raise a great question, and I'd like to ask you to clarify it if you
can:

- What do you mean by "the academic, traditional UCD process"?
- Which part of the "real world" are you working in? Software,
manufacturing, consumer goods, etc.?

In my experience:

- There are many flavors of UCD, no "standard practice", so I'm not sure
which flavor you're talking about. I received my UCD training from
practitioners, so I was taught what works in the real world.
- There are many reasons that practitioners can't use a "full" UCD
process in all situations. (That doesn't mean that some projects can't
use UCD...I think most if not all could use it.) Sometimes you have to
"get your foot in the door" on one project in order to be able to
provide more value with UCD on the next.
- The "real world" requires pragmatism. Perfect product quality is not
practical -- there is such a thing as "good enough" -- especially when
time and cash are involved.

UCD (as I practice it) is flexible - with many techniques and methods
that need to be "right sized" to the situation. In the real world, if
you think every product *has* to be usability tested (or that all tests
need 20+ users), than you aren't being pragmatic. It depends whether
you're talking about a desk calendar or a space shuttle, an ecommerce
site or an intranet brochure for an administrative cost center.

If academic training doesn't teach you these things, then you'll enter
Real World University after graduation. :)

I'd love it if you could share any pointers to articles that discuss
this topic. As Whitney pointed out - you probably won't find those
articles in academic journals.

Regards,

Lyle

----
Lyle Kantrovich
User Experience Architect
Cargill
http://www.cargill.com/

Croc O' Lyle - Personal Commentary on usability, information
architecture and design.
http://crocolyle.blogspot.com/

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
- Leonardo da Vinci

16 Sep 2004 - 4:16pm
Helena Mentis
2004

Very good questions. I hope I can explain my thoughts well enough.

>> - What do you mean by "the academic, traditional UCD process"?
>> - Which part of the "real world" are you working in? Software,
>> manufacturing, consumer goods, etc.?

The overarching 'traditional' UCD process in my eyes is one in which we
follow a development process that encompasses requirements gathering,
design, prototyping, user testing and implementation...with iterations
and refinement along the way. I realize there are many different
versions of the UCD process, but am I wrong to think this is the primary
outline?

Real world to me in my particular situation is software development.

>> I'd love it if you could share any pointers to articles that discuss
>> this topic. As Whitney pointed out - you probably won't find those
>> articles in academic journals.

This is the crux of my issue. Why aren't academic journals addressing
that the theories and processes have to be flexible to the situation one
finds themselves in when creating software interfaces. As a one time
student and then TA I look back on learning "this is the process to
follow" and then teaching the exact same thing. And never did we learn
examples of situations where you can't follow the process exactly as it
is laid out. What type of publications (conference or journals or
anything) cater to this type of case study validation or invalidation of
processes.

Thanks for your questions which made me think.

--Helena

16 Sep 2004 - 6:10pm
Listera
2004

Whitney Quesenbery:

> How about journal articles that discuss how ANY academic, traditional
> process does not always fit comfortably into the real world.

Allow me to twist that knife. :-)

On various fora, I ask academics what they've learned from practitioners. I
get very few answers. I'd love to hear from academics here.

Ziya
Nullius in Verba

16 Sep 2004 - 7:48pm
Josh Seiden
2003

I find this comment needlessly divisive.

Wouldn't it be better to ask how to bridge the divide,
rather than simply throw taunts across it? Certainly
IxD will benefit more from the former, and our forum
will suffer for the latter.

JS

> Allow me to twist that knife. :-)
>
> On various fora, I ask academics what they've learned
from
> practitioners. I get very few answers. I'd love to
hear from
> academics here.
>
> Ziya
> Nullius in Verba

17 Sep 2004 - 6:09am
Kristoffer Åberg
2003

The dissertation How Designers Work by Henrik Gedenryd does a thorough
job at debunking ideal-oriented theories and moving toward a model of
actual design in particular, and cognition in general. Not pertaining to
UCD per se but I found it a valuable read for me to reflect upon on the
design process.

http://lucs.fil.lu.se/People/Henrik.Gedenryd/HowDesignersWork/

/Kristoffer

>I am looking for journal articles or conference proceedings which
>discuss how the academic, traditional UCD process does not always work
>in every situation in "the real world". Either case studies, surveys,
>or formal studies. I am putting this out to this listserv since I have
>found few articles myself and yet feel that this is the case for many
>practitioners grappling with applying their training to their projects.
>
>

17 Sep 2004 - 3:52pm
hans samuelson
2003

This is only obliquely relevant to the original thread. However, on
the broader academic/industry divide within design activity, some might
enjoy the industrial design studies of Nigel Cross, for example

http://design.open.ac.uk/people/academics/cross/CreativeCognition.pdf
http://design.open.ac.uk/people/academics/cross/CogStratHI.pdf

These would be more along the lines of the text recommended by
Kristoffer: they are studies of the real-world processes of exceptional
designers (Cross' phrase; no personal value-judgement implied) at work.
Though the products being designed are rather different, some of the
process is perhaps analogous, and if it isn't, that might be
interesting in its own right...

With regard to Ziya's knife-twisting, I would say that the level of
pragmatism depends on geography and disciplinary affiliation. Interior
design (of all places) is very interested in real-world cases and
pragmatic approaches, at least in my limited experience. Industrial
design seems more theory-oriented, and architecture somewhere between
the two, but often focused on the result rather than the process.

The design disciplines have been twisting themselves in knots trying to
figure out how to become more scientific, since that is where the
research money is to be had. But negative results ("the hypothesis was
proven false by the results") are most commonly recognized as useful in
mature sciences. Insecure academic disciplines do not encourage extra
doubt... and industry isn't much better, really; "Well, the project
was a failure, but there's some good news—we clearly demonstrated that
the theory is flawed and incomplete" is not what your supervisor wants
to hear.

The other thing that's amazing is how short a time it takes to have a
'tradition' these days. UCD has been a buzzword for less than 50
years, and it's hardly been the most stable 50 years in recorded
history. Pretty hard to have a tradition when your contexts,
materials, and standards have all changed; that's the real challenge
for academics. Newell & Card called it “The race between the tortoise
of cumulative science and the hare of intuitive design” back in 1985,
and the hare is still leading the pack, for better or for worse. We'll
see how slow and steady does in the long haul.

Hans

> The dissertation How Designers Work by Henrik Gedenryd does a thorough
> job at debunking ideal-oriented theories and moving toward a model of
> actual design in particular, and cognition in general. Not pertaining
> to UCD per se but I found it a valuable read for me to reflect upon on
> the design process.
>
> http://lucs.fil.lu.se/People/Henrik.Gedenryd/HowDesignersWork/
>
> /Kristoffer
>
>> I am looking for journal articles or conference proceedings which
>> discuss how the academic, traditional UCD process does not always work
>> in every situation in "the real world". Either case studies, surveys,
>> or formal studies. I am putting this out to this listserv since I
>> have
>> found few articles myself and yet feel that this is the case for many
>> practitioners grappling with applying their training to their
>> projects.

17 Sep 2004 - 1:10pm
Jonas Löwgren
2003

Ziya asks what academics have learned from practitioners. I don't find
the question divisive, but quite relevant. Here are some brief
reflections on what I have learnt from twelve years of (academic)
research in collaboration with usability and interaction design
practitioners, and with domain experts from various fields (a.k.a.
'end-users').

For an academic (at least for this academic), there are different kinds
of learning involved in such collaboration. The arguably most important
kind is the learning that entails development of well-grounded,
criticizable and transferable knowledge (a.k.a. 'research results').
More on this below.

Another kind of learning has to do with gradually understanding the
conditions of professional practice. For me personally, the most
important insight has perhaps been the relative unimportance of
usability in the big picture of developing digital products, services
and environments. Another gradually emerging insight was that
professional development of digital artefacts is best understood in
design-theoretical terms, even though practitioners themselves
typically did not have such training or theoretical perspectives. I
could go on, but basically it is about my ongoing apprenticeship in a
professional practice and the gradual, piecemeal acquisition of the
skills and values that constitute it.

To return to the scientific-knowledge-kind of learning, it seems to me
that all projects that have worked well in this respect have fulfilled
two criteria.
- All collaborating parties focus on a common goal of developing
something together, committing all their skills, resources and best
efforts to a result of highest attainable quality.
- All collaborating parties respect that the other parties have their
own agendas in addition to the common goal. Academics want to analyze,
abstract and publish. (Some) companies want to file for patents. (Most)
companies want to make money off the collaboration. And so on.

Here are a few examples of such projects.

1. Developing a transmedia youth forum for societal empowerment.
Collaboration between academics, applied research institute, and public
service broadcast company. 2000-2003.
Joint outcome: A transmedia youth forum for societal empowerment,
deployed in TV and web, developing according to plan, regrettably
operational only for a few months before unexpected budget cuts in the
broadcast company forced its closing.
Academic outcome, applied research institute outcome: A paper on the
design concept and its sociological foundations. (Empirical studies
were planned of the forum in operation but unfortunately the forum was
closed prematurely.)
Public service broadcast company outcome: New knowledge concerning
transmedial possibilities and the nature of public service in a
convergent media landscape. Used to fuel ongoing internal change
processes.

2. Developing innovative interaction techniques for maintenance of
electromechanical industrial equipment. Collaboration between
academics, CAD/PDM company ('developers'), and electromechanical
industry company ('users'). 2002-03.
Joint outcome: A speech-based mobile interaction concept for data entry.
Academic outcome: A paper on a prototyping technique based on sketchy
cutout animation.
CAD/PDM company outcome: A concept and technical demonstrator for a
possible product to develop and sell to customers dealing with
maintenance of mechanical or electromechanical equipment.
Electromechanical industry company outcome: A concept that could be
implemented in daily operations. Estimated payback time for
implementation: 18 months.

3. Developing usability engineering techniques that would work in the
professional context of a fairly typical, milestone-driven software
engineering methodology. Collaboration between academics and software
department of large telecom company. 1992-93.
Joint outcome: A set of method components and a training course.
Academic outcome: A paper on usability engineering techniques in
professional practice (yes, this was considered a valid research
question in 1993!)
Large telecom company outcome: Method components taught to hundreds of
employees, deployed in a number of projects, possibly catalyst for
methodology revision later initiated from higher up.

Example 1 illustrates the production of transferable knowledge
consisting of interaction design concepts. In example 2, the design
concept in itself was not innovative in academic terms but the
prototyping technique that best suited the situation turned out to be
publishable. Example 3 provided a piece of validation knowledge
(validating usability engineering techniques in a certain type of
professional practice).

I don't know if this answers the question, but at least this is what
came to mind when I read Ziya's post.

(For academic-minded readers, the references for the publications
mentioned in the three examples are listed below.)

Jonas Löwgren

----
Arts and Communication
Malmö University, SE-205 06 Malmö, Sweden

phone +46 7039 17854
web http://webzone.k3.mah.se/k3jolo

---- references ----

Gislén, Y., Löwgren, J. (2002). Avatopia: Planning a community for
non-violent societal action. Digital Creativity 13(1):23-37.

Löwgren, J. (forthcoming). Animated use sketches as design
representations. To appear in interactions (scheduled for November
2004).

Carlshamre, P., Löwgren, J., and Rantzer, M. (1994). Usability meets
the real world: A case study of usability-oriented method development
in industrial software production. In Bradley, G. and Hendrick, H.
(eds) Proc. 4th Int. Symp. Human Factors in Organization Design and
Management (ODAM), pp. 427-432. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

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