Usability And Software Developers

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These are the slides from a talk that I gave to the Northern User Experience group on January 20th 2009

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Usability And Software Developers

  1. 1. Usability and software developers Managing Usability A tale of Usability Professionals, Software Developers and Managers Presented by: Rob Knight Lead Technical Architect, PRWD Northern User Experience 20th January 2009 http://northern-user-experience.org/
  2. 2. Introduction Managing Usability What are the problems faced by usability professionals and software developers working together as a team?
  3. 3. Clash of Cultures Managing Usability Usability Professionals Software Developers Think in terms of users Think in terms of tools Value speciality Value reusability Want to create Want to create elegant elegant systems interfaces
  4. 4. How software developers think Managing Usability Reusability is a core discipline It means: Lower cost Fewer bugs Easier to maintain
  5. 5. Lines of code Managing Usability “Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring aircraft building progress by weight” - Bill Gates
  6. 6. The ParetoUsability Principle Managing 80% of the work comes from 20% of the features implementing
  7. 7. The ParetoUsability Principle Managing But the most efficient amount of effort is zero
  8. 8. Examples Managing Usability A website reuses features of the web browser A web browser reuses features of the GUI A GUI reuses features of the Operating System This is why we're stuck with some outdated concepts – replacing them is too difficult
  9. 9. Enter Usability UCD Managing User-centered design leads to specialisation and the creation of new things The results are better for users But not so good for developers?
  10. 10. Chinese Whispers Managing Usability Do the developers really understand why usability matters? Without a direct line of communication, the input of the usability professional can be distorted Developers may feel that user-centered designs are unreasonable if they cannot see the benefit
  11. 11. La Resistance Managing Usability UCD might force developers out of their comfort zone “This isn't a design, it's just a set of pictures!” The developers aren't seeing the bigger picture
  12. 12. Management Managing Usability Fortunately for the project, one man can link the whole thing together...
  13. 13. Managing Usability
  14. 14. Or maybe not Managing Usability Often, managers don't understand usability or software development As a result, managers cannot impose usability on a software development team They just want to get something delivered
  15. 15. Who suffers most? Managing Usability When a project goes wrong, the blame game can begin External consultants are first in the firing line Developers may be able to blame 'unworkable' designs
  16. 16. Who suffers most? Managing Usability Developers can hold up a project if they're not happy By the time the project is apparent, it may be too late for you to do anything about it
  17. 17. The Solution Managing Usability Communication Collaboration Consideration
  18. 18. Know your team Managing Usability Work with the developers and not against them Learn their capabilities and their limitations Understand that usable solutions have costs for the developers
  19. 19. Not manufacturing Managing Usability Software development is not manufacturing Software design is not product design It is a two-way process
  20. 20. Not manufacturing Managing Usability Software development is not manufacturing Software design is not product design It is a two-way process
  21. 21. Agile Managing Usability Software developers have been embracing new methods of working Agile development focuses on achievement of concrete goals Emphasis on prototyping reduces the cost of trying something different
  22. 22. The Perfect Fit? Managing Usability Agile UCD Prototype, revise, Prototype, revise, rebuild redesign Focus on high-value Focus on key user components goals Do what works Do what users want Collaborate with Bring the users into stakeholders the process
  23. 23. The Perfect Fit? Managing Usability Agile UCD Prototype, revise, Prototype, revise, rebuild redesign Focus on high-value Focus on key user components goals Do what works Do what users want Collaborate with Bring the users into stakeholders the process
  24. 24. Prioritise Managing Usability Work out what's most important Collaborate with developers in estimating the cost Work on completing the top priorities before the small details trip you up
  25. 25. Summary Managing Usability Insist on direct lines of communication Explain the user's point of view Make it fun!

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