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De ondergang van technische redenatie...

My appologies.. this article, or message' is in dutch. The Title trnaslates to: The downfall of technology based design.

This article is about the shifting from thinking in technical possibilities to exploring the user's needs.


Software ontwikkelaars benaderen en beschouwen een systeem als een technologisch onstaan en vormgegeven produkt dat voldoet aan de eisen die geboren worden vanuit zakelijk oogpunt en zo voldoen aan behoeftes van een organisatie.
Dit blikveld motiveert ontwikkelaars te denken in technologische behoeftes, men gaat opzoek naar deelproblemen die een softwarematige oplossing behoeven en welke taal het best een formulering geeft van een mogelijke beantwoording op de probleemstelling.
Men laat zich leiden door hardwarematige mogelijkheden en beperkingen.
Er wordt gekeken naar de software architectuur en hoe deze te beheersen en te beheren.
Opzoek naar componenten en de herbruikbaarheid van software onderdelen.

Ook wordt gedacht aan een manier hoe nieuwe applicaties in de reeds bestaande architectuur geintegreerd kan worden, wat we kunnen gebruiken van de bestaande architectuur en hoe te anticiperen op eventuele problemen.
Er wordt rekening gehouden met functionaliteit en de organisatorische behoefte en eventuele organisatorische beperkingen.

Elk aspect van deze zienswijze komt voort uit de organisatie en het machinale perspectief.

Opzich vormt deze ‘van binnen uit gedachte’ een degelijk fundament voor het creeren van applicaties, echter: het beperkt het blikveld van de ontwikkelaar zodat men een applicatie bouwt die de gebruiker moet gebruiken in plaats van een applicatie die de gebruiker wil gebruiken.

User-centered design heeft zich ontpopt als een van de meest aansprekende mandaten om toe te passen bij het ontwerpen van een gebruikers interface.
Het is gerelateerd aan het begrip behavioral design en aan de principes van Human Computer Interface (HCI).
Kort gezegd houdt dit in dat men de interactie laat ontstaan uit het oogpunt van de gebruiker in plaats van uit het oogpunt van het systeem.
Er schuilt een paradox in deze manier van benaderen: wat het beste is voor de gebruiker komt vaak tot de ontwikkelaar over als niet vanzelfsprekend zijnde.
Wat voor de gebruiker het makkelijst is, is vaak voor de ontwikkelaar zelden makkelijk te ontwerpen, te programmeren en te implementeren. In feite is het tegenovergestelde waar.
User-centered design kost tijd, inzet en expertize.
Het producren van een effectieve en efficiente gebruikers interface maakt het redeneren van welke oplossing het beste voor de klant is noodzakelijk, in tegenstelling tot wat het makkelijkst te implementeren is.

Het op een dusdanige manier ontwerpen van een applicatie zodat deze simpel en duidelijk is neemt op zijn minst twee keer zoveel tijd in beslag als nu het geval is.
Winst wordt echter behaald in het beperken van foute invoer en verwerking als gevolg van onduidelijkheid.

Hoewel deze redenatie in eerste instantie meer tijd vergt van        ontwikkelaars, en dus arbeids en kosten intensief is, zal een eerste besparing zich aandienen bij de gebruikers organisatie… een benadering die een organisatie-overkopelende gedachte vormt.
Het vereist concentratie op de gedachte hoe simpel en duidelijk een systeem zou moeten werken, gevolgd door de stappen die noodzakelijk zijn om het vervolgens te realiseren – stappen die vaak moeilijker zijn te verwezelijken en complexer van aard zijn in vergelijking met standaard oplossingen.

Volharden in deze benadering, zelfs wanneer er ogenschijnlijk onoverkombare obstakels zich op de weg naar duidelijkheid en simpelheid werpen, is noodzakelijk.

Deze simplistische benadering verklaart zichzelf, maar is moeilijker te doorgronden dan men op het eerste ogenblik zal denken.
Om de gebruiker te begrijpen moet men menselijk gedrag begrijpen.
Dieper ingaand op dit onderwerp; het doorgronden van karakteristieken eigenschappen van groepen gebruikers die een bepaalde interface gaan gebruiken.
Ontwikkelaars zouden in een vroeg stadium van de ontwikkeling van applicaties aandacht moeten schenken aan dit aspect en daarin volharden tijdens het gehele ontwikkel proces.   
Naast het erkenen, beschrijven en generaliseren van groepen gebruikers moet men ze voornamelijk begrijpen

Deze redenatie, hoewel een zeer globale beschrijving die lang niet alle aspecten van user-centerd en useablity design dekt, vormt de motivatie voor mijn voorstel.

Michael van der Steen (The Netherlands)
Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Вот ведь как бывает... Никто по-датски не переведет?

Roman Eremin
Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Looks like discrimination. I can't post in Russian!

Roman Eremin
Tuesday, April 02, 2002

- Looks like Russian to me...

B
Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Hey, cut it out! It may be a little dull, but it's not Russian!

Frederik Slijkerman
Tuesday, April 02, 2002

I notice that there is no dutch for "User-centered design".

If they do'nt have the words for it then how can they discuss it?

Tony
Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Curiously, when you run over to http://translation.langenberg.com/ , scroll down to "Translation Experts," fill in the URL of this topic, "from Dutch" and "to English," not only do you get a mangled English translation, but the Russian characters appear in Roman's message!

Bob
Tuesday, April 02, 2002

A really Bad Translation.  WOuld Someone like to clean it up?

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Adam
Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Ok, I tried another translation. I am German, so even though I do not speak Dutch myself, I can read and understand most of it, it sounds like some strange dialect to me.

This is the text as I understand it. I may have missed some points and took the freedom to translate some phrases rather freely, because I did not find English words to match the Dutch expressions exactly.

I apologies for any mistakes I might have made, neither English nor Dutch are my native language.

So here you go:

"Software developers look at a system from a technological viewpoint and form a product that fullfills the needs born from that viewpoint and the specification given by an organisation.
This viewpoint motivates developers to think in technological terms, they look for parts form other problems that have been solved in software and which of those parts give a possible solution for the new problem.
They are led by the possibilities and restrictions of the hardware.
They will look for the software architecture and how that is to be designed and conquered.
(They will be) Searching for components and reusable parts of other software.

Also they will think about how a new application can be integrated in the architecture that is already there, what of the architecture can be reused and how possible problems can be dealt with.
They will consider functionalities and organisatorial needs and possible organisatorical restrictions.

All of the parts of this point of view come from the organisation and its technical (or ‘machinal’) perspective.

Therefore this ‘from inside out’ perspective forms the fundament for the building of the application, so that the developers’ point of view leads to the building of an application that the user has to use instead of an application the user wants to use.

User-centered design has proven to be the most suitable form to design the user interface. It is related to the behaviorial design and to the principles of the Human Computer Interface (HCI).
To cut it short, from the viewpoint of the user instead of the viewpoint of the system.
There is a paradox in this approach: what is best for the user may not seem so obvious for the developer.
Whatever the user puts on his makelist has to be designed, programmed and implemented by the developer. Therefore it is true:
User-centered designe needs time, insight and expertise.
The production of an effective and efficient user interface makes it necessary to understand, what is really important to the client, as opposed to the featurelist to implement, which usually doesn’t.

The design of an application in this way, in order to make it simple and precise, consumes at least twice as much time as the usual way. The gain is in the reduction of false input and of corrections needed because of inprecisions.

Even though this approach affords more time from the developer in the first phase of development, and this is work and cost extensive, the first savings are there for the users’ organization, an approach that forms an inter-organisational thinking.
It concentrates on the thought how the system can be made simple and precise, followed by the steps necessary to reach this goal, steps which are harder to take and are of a more complex kind compared to the standard approach.

It is necessary to keep this approach, even if obtacles appear on the way to simplicity and precision which seem impossible to overcome.

The simplistic approach explains itself, more is possible to achieve than you should think at the beginning. To understand the user it is necessary to understand the human mind. Going deeper into the subject it means to understand certain characteristics of groups of users who will use the interface.
Developers should think about these aspects in the early stage of development of an application and keep it in mind during the whole development process.
The realization, description and generalisation of user groups has to be the focus of their attention.

This approach, even though it is a very global description which does in no way cover all aspects of user-centered and usability design, motivates my own thinking on the subject."

Have fun,   

Jutta Jordans
Wednesday, April 03, 2002

To summarize the article:

Currently, software design is often technocentric. Problems are solved in terms of "how does this fit into the existing architecture, and which language is the best to use for this problem?"

But a new method is gaining popularity: user centered design. By desiging the application according to HCI principles, an application will become easier to use.

Creating a 'user centered' application takes twice as long as creating a classic technocentric application, but this extra cost is offset by the savings made in using the application.

The hard part of creating a user-centered application is understanding its users.

There. Well, that's not even a summary, I just had to lose the bullshit-bingo compliant parts, and keep the facts.

Now for my reaction:
It may be a bit more expensive to design software this way, but twice? I'd say that's an exaggeration.

Harro de Jong
Thursday, April 04, 2002

> It may be a bit more expensive to design software this way, but twice? I'd say that's an exaggeration.

I do not agree.  Designing and implementing what is I best (and logical) from the user's point of view without compromise towards technoligical or system restrictions is really a very hard task and might well take twice as long as the "usual approach". I would guess that you can make up a lot of the time you invest in user oriented design in later states of the development, though, because the software might be what the customer wanted on the first try and the software does not keep coming back to you for later changes. So the actual development time, counted from the writings of the specs to the _final_ release of the product might be comparable (with a higher product quality from the user's point of view).

have fun,

Jutta Jordans
Thursday, April 04, 2002

I've always found that the best way to design for the user is just to learn to be a good designer.

A good technical design does not trade off with good user-oriented design.  For me, a good user-oriented design is a shell around the technical design.  If I've done good technical work, then I've captured the essence of the application.  Then I can flexibly present it with whatever face it needs.

Jessie
Friday, April 05, 2002

Jessie, I would see this the other way around:

Only if you grasp completely what kind of face the user wants to see you can find the technical solution that fits best.

User oriented design is not only about the interface. It is about translating the expectations of the future user (which are about the interface, because that is the only part of the software he or she will see) into the technical implementation that fits best. You are probably right, that you can add any interface to a technically well designed programm, but then you will probably end up with an ugly wrapper or translation layer between application and interface. But if you have the desired interface in mind when designing, you might want to do things differently in the technical part of the implementation also.

I agree that being a good designer helps in any case, though. I wish I had a stronger background in design (not software design, just plain usability design, like how many buttons should a VCR, mobile phone, coffee maschine have, if and how should they be labeled and so on).

Have fun,

Jutta Jordans
Friday, April 05, 2002

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