Carlshamre, P. (1994). A Field Study in Usability Engineering: Bringing in the Technical Communicators.. Technical Report LiTH-IDA-R-94-44, Department of Computer and Information Science, Linköping University, Sweden. (bibtex),
Abstract: For the last 20 years, the human-computer interaction research community has provided a multitude of methods and techniques intended to support the development of usable systems, but the impact on industrial software development has been limited. One of the reasons for this limited success is argued to be the gap between traditional academic theory generation and industrial practice. Furthermore, technical communicators (TCs) have until recently played a subordinate role in software design, even in usability-oriented methods. Considering their close relation to the users of the developed systems, and to the usability issue itself, they con- stitute a hidden resource, which potentially would contribute to the benefit of more usa- ble systems. We formed the Delta project as a joint effort between industry and academia. The objec- tives of the project were to jointly develop usability-oriented method extensions, adapted for a particular industrial setting, and to account for the specialist competence of the TCs in the software development process. This report is a qualitative study of the development, introduction and evaluation of the Delta method extension. The analysis provides evidence in favor of a closer collaboration between system developers (SDs) and TCs. An additional outcome of the in-depth study is a proposed redefinition of the extended interface concept, taking into account the inseparability of user documenta- tion and user interface, while providing a natural common ground for a closer collabo- ration between SDs and TCs.
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