Sunday, March 02, 2008

Culture, Internationalisation and Usability - II

Part II in the series (Part I February 24)...

"3.2 Germany

The focus group conducted in Germany consisted of usability professionals with various backgrounds, e.g. from the automobile industry, web-design, the mobile industry or from usability consultancies. Participants invested their free-time and were not financially rewarded in any terms.

Even though most participants were engaged in the field of usability engineering for many years already, they were lacking explicit experience in cross-cultural usability engineering. This strongly affected results obtained by the sessions.

While within the first session on UE rich and detailed information regarding current and best practices was gathered and deeply discussed, the XUE session was a rather shallow and shortened discussion on the surface with less insightful results.

3.2.1 Usability Engineering Process

The participants jointly developed UE process was visually finished-up by the researcher with consistent feedback of the participants after the focus group session. The overall process consists of 8 stages with three stages being critical iterative evaluation stages and three critical decision stages.

The first stage is the product definition or idea, which initiates the whole process. Consequently this stage is to be seen as the first milestone within the development process. The product idea can be based on someone’s inspiring spark, but usually is derived from carefully observing the market situation. Within this stage the target market, the target users and the target price to be developed for are defined. Also the products unique selling propositions (UPS) are to be fixed. Major stakeholders of this stage are marketing and management.

Within the next stage of requirements analysis all data about the user and the context of use are gathered. This data represents the foundation for the further product development and also serves as decision basis for upcoming evaluations. Major stakeholders here are usability analysts.

Based on the prior stage, first design propositions are developed as conceptual drafts. It is to point out that several drafts are developed simultaneously. The conceptual draft consists of basic functions of the product, interaction modes and applied metaphors. Designers and usability analysts are the major players within this stage.

The developed drafts then are evaluated. Consequently this stage is called draft evaluation, which aims at the identification of the best drafts in regard to collected requirements in stage two. Beside the collected user-requirements the expected usability-quality of the drafts are major decision criterions. Usability-tests, expert-evaluations, simple prototypes (e.g. paper-prototype) and scenarios are applicable methods here – all this with real user participation, where possible. But also technological constraints, free production capacities, technology and material availability play an important role when evaluating the drafts."    (Continued via uiGarden)    [Usability Resources]

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