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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Summary of the Book User Task Analysis and Interface Design Written By Miss JoAnn T. Hackos and Miss Janice C. Redish

Interfaces are primarily how users interact with the product.  Good design is important to this feature being productive.  This is not an easy task however.  Problems can arise from making the application too complex or from focusing on the product more than actual user requirements.  The author is writing the book to help with doing this successfully.  Interfaces are usable if the user can perceive it as such.  The author goes on to emphasize that user and task analysis is the first part of any project.  This is done to address the seemingly systemic issue of bad design.  Correcting it in the early stages will save money during the rest of the process.  There are many components to this type of analysis.  Study of people and culture play into it.  So does studying how people think, learn, communicate and behave as consumers.
                Learning about and thinking about the user is the theme of chapter 2.  We should want to know their intended user and about their decision method that leads them to choose the product as designers.  Research who the users are, who they share the product with and who else may be expose to that activity.  There is sort of two parts to the user profile.  How do we define the user and how they define themselves?  We can implement a research team and try to discover the ideal group we would like to connect with.  We can then look at self-revealing facts like employment and actual usage by the user to see if it matches the preconceived assumptions.  The results of the study should show the differences of users making it more personal for individuality.  The more data you have will give you a better strategy into promoting your design.
                After assessing the user then we should discuss the tasks.  The “task” itself is about how this product will help the user work or develop something to work.  This can be inspired by seeing how tasks are accomplished without your concept.  Again, start with the user’s goal.  Then see what issues they may have when trying to complete the task.  You can then think about refining the process or filling the void in some way.  Analyze the workflow of the user with the task of the job and combine the grades for your own process.  Reanalyze your initial finding as your users mature from a novice level to becoming an expert.
                You have to incorporate every aspect of the user environment in the scope of your design.  There are many things to consider for the physical environment.  The size of the work space is one of the characteristics to consider along with noise, cleanliness, lighting, room temperature and dangers.  Designers should also comprehend the speed of system reaction and the sources of information the user will need.  All the characteristics and any possible dangers should be discussed with engineers before proceeding.  Social environments are about the processes of a task and how they will be divided.  This can vary highly and is subtly suggested to not be presumed.  Cultures permit some disciplines and vocabularies that we must pay attention to and be aware of.
As you make assumptions, you may need to observe the users in their environment in action.  There are many cases that can be presented as resistance to this procedure.  This may be generated from your own organization or the designated users themselves.  Once you can verify its essentials, it is recommending to complete tests on a small group of users to challenge or confirm all the information previously recorded.  As you prepare the business proposal, you will need to calculate the approximate return on invest and where the result will be in proximity to your competition.  Once this information is collected, you can supply it in a suitable format to management.
The techniques to use of site visits in critical and can play directly into your result.  The way in which you address and converse with individuals about inquires and tasks are important factors.  Part of your goal is to get them to become willing participants in the study with events like role playing, interviews and walk-throughs.  This type of work is to provide a better product as the main service but connecting with your customers in a friendly manner is not a negative.  You should also be able to perform more traditional assignments and share how you handle your job to improve theirs.
Setting up and preparing for the visit, I assumed would be very similar prior to the reading.  You cannot skimp or take any short cuts in setting up for the event.  Secondarily, you have to prepare with your team and make sure there are not holes in the set up.  Make sure that the plan was correct and perfected and then follow through with accurate timing.
As you conduct a site visit, you should use the opportunity to refine your observation and interviewing skills.  See how the users work in their environment.  Try to define their job and how it is completed.  This will only help to assist in the continued planning for identifying the task and its improvement.  Begin to remove the assumptions and inferences with the realized outcomes of your view.  Also as you conduct your interviews pay attention to verbal and non-verbal responses.  Specify the information you intend to learn but be weary of forcing participation and making participants uncomfortable.  Your notes should contain quotes of user answers and other information that they felt could contribute to the reporting.  The interviewer should have a well-thought out plan.  However, since you are working with other people who have their own requirements, you should be flexible as to what you can be stringent on.  Ending as a good experience is as important as gathering the data.  As you analyze your time on the visit and information provided, you can begin to format it for presentation.  Categorize the data to how it was collected by user, environments and tasks of their associative variety.  This will emphasize who provided the corresponding information and how it may relate specifically to their situation.  You want the presentation to become an accurate representation of the work done.  The best methods to use for your presentation will be dependent on the other members of your contingent that is responsible for completing the assignment.
You should begin designing from what you have learned.  Metaphors is imperative to the concept of interface design.  They are the connection from the supposed real world to the virtual world.  Scenarios and sequences should be used to both prepare your organization for the product and when you are beginning the roll out for waiting customers.  Diagramming with models and storyboards are key to visualization on the process of creation and hierarchy of the developed ideas.   Prototyping is the next step of design.  Now prototyping can be anything from a 3-D object to the first usable version of the interface.  Building and evaluating this item is part of your job.  When testing the prototype, review the initial or provided list of requirements of the user.  It is pertinent whether it is capable to meet those standards as an unfinished product.  You should also see if it can go beyond that in this phase of design.   As a prototype, you can continue to make improvements and corrections from previous research and with the feedback of information gather from testing it.  Request adequate responses from willing participants for enhancing the product.  The last step is for documentation and training.  Provide a thorough written report for what the product is intended to do, how it should be used and all other relevant information any user should know.  Training from trials from within the company can generate into becoming excellent tutorials for others.  An organization should be prepared for in-class and remote sessions to teach about the product and maximizing its effectiveness.  And these should be catered towards the audience and not just written from a perspective of wisdom.  

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