Basic Methods: 1. Stakeholder meeting
To collect and agree information about:
- Why is the system being developed? What are the overall objectives? How will it be judged as a success?
- Who are the intended users and what are their tasks? (Why will they use the system? What is their experience and expertise?)
- What are the technical and environmental constraints? (What types of hardware will be used in what environments?)
- What key functionality is needed to support the user needs?
- How will the system be used? What is the overall workflow (e.g. from instructor preparation, through student interaction to instructor marking)? What are typical scenarios of how and why users will interact with the system?
- What are the usability goals? (How important is ease of use and ease of learning? How long should it take users to complete their tasks? Is it important to minimise user errors? What GUI style guide should be used?)
- How will users obtain assistance?
- Are there any initial design concepts?
- Ensure that all factors that relate to use of the system are identified before design work starts.
- Bring together all the people relevant to the development, to create a common vision.
- Provide a basis for designing later usability tests
Arrange a one-day meeting. Invite stakeholders (interested parties) who have knowledge about the intended users and usage, including:
- project manager
- different types of user
You may also need the sponsor and people from marketing, training or support. You will need a facilitator and a person to record the information provided during the meeting.
Produce a list of issues to be discussed at the stakeholder meeting. To obtain information on the context in which the system will be used, a detailed context of use checklist will be needed.
Before the meeting
- Identify the key issues you need to explore.
- Provide all participants with the agenda and a copy of the context checklist.
At the meeting
After discussing the major issues, discuss and fill in each item on the context checklist. Try to obtain consensus where there is uncertainty or disagreement. If information is missing, agree how this can be obtained. Avoid prolonged discussion of minor issues.
After the meeting
Obtain any missing information. If the information is not easily available, arrange a field study to observe users in their work environment. For example, for an educational system, investigate current teaching, learning and support activities.
Circulate to all participants a summary of the conclusions of the meeting, and the filled in checklist.
If possible hold this meeting before the functional requirements have been finalised, but the meeting is important even if user centred design is introduced late in the development process. All stakeholders should attend the first meeting. Hold additional smaller meetings if more detail is required.
If it is impossible to arrange a meeting, the information can be gathered by interviewing the stakeholders. This has the disadvantage that there is no opportunity to establish consensus on, and commitment to, usability.
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