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Karen Holtzblatt

Karen Holtzblatt
InContext Design

PhD Applied Pyschology/Educational Theory

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137
Publications
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Publications

Publications (137)
Book
Contextual Design: Design for Life, Second Edition, describes the core techniques needed to deliberately produce a compelling user experience. Contextual Design (CD) was first invented in 1988 to drive a deep understanding of the user into the design process. It has been used in a wide variety of industries and taught in universities all over the w...
Chapter
Everyone has self-doubt. But many women lack confidence, feel unqualified, think that they lack skill, are imperfect, feel out of step with expectations, and are unclear about how to succeed. But with tolerance for imperfection, room to grow, positive feedback, supportive people to work with, clear expectations for success, and feeling valued and c...
Chapter
Successful women in tech find Local Role Models who challenge, support, and coach them to career success. Like early influencers, more experienced colleagues model good professional behavior and are present in daily life for guidance. These more experienced people also communicate career possibilities through their actions and choices. When the wor...
Chapter
Women often advance when they are pushed into a challenge and are supported to succeed by family, teachers, managers, and co-workers. Many women hesitate to ask for a challenge or the next promotion. They may not feel skilled or comfortable with self-promotion. They may look at a job description and decide they are not qualified if they do not meet...
Chapter
Technology is a maker industry. Diverse teams design and develop products, websites, apps, systems, services, cars, refrigerators, medical equipment, and more. Like any maker industry, making comes with getting continuous feedback or critique.[7]But 80% of the women we surveyed lose confidence when they are criticized.
Chapter
Developers, designers, project leads, and user researchers—all the women we interviewed—want to work on real tangible products; projects that are important to the company, the industry, or the world. Women want high-impact and high-profile challenges. They do not want to be bored and switch jobs if they stop learning and feeling challenged. Women i...
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The @Work Experience Framework identifies six daily work experiences that women need to thrive. The power of a framework is that it circumscribes and focuses what organizations should examine in their efforts to retain women. Central to these experiences is the role of the team and how they experience their participation, belonging, and value. As w...
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Women thrive in a dynamic, work-focused team where together they make or explore something that matters. This team culture is results-focused, no drama, non-judgmental, and punctuated with a lively exchange of ideas among high-performing, mutually respected people. Within the team women both lead and follow, feel valued for their work, and are aske...
Chapter
In Chapter 10, we called upon teams and individuals to hold themselves accountable for their behaviors in order to create a more valuing culture. In Part II overall, we provided recommendations and tools to tune practices so they work well for women and everyone. In this chapter, we describe interventions to help teams explicitly define the values...
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In the last three chapters, we offered interventions to interrupt bias and manage interpersonal chaos within some of the core processes in tech work. As we said, interpersonal chaos can end up excluding and devaluing underrepresented populations and those with less experience. In Part Idescribing the @Work Experience factors, we have also emphasize...
Chapter
Women with children thrive when their team and managers make it easy to balance home and work. Women may worry that they will be judged poorly if they have to take time to care for children. And they fear that they will be excluded from challenging work once they become moms. But when both the team and managers work out strategies to make hard work...
Chapter
At the core of our redesign approach is the principle of sneak attacks. We look for small changes to existing practices central to both improving the work of diverse teams and the experience of women. The Team Onboarding Checklist is just a checklist. Yet, it is a tool to help clarify and improve an otherwise undefined onboarding process that also...
Chapter
We started the Women in Tech Retention Project to understand why women are leaving our field twice as often as men. Through a combination of field research and surveys, we identified the factors in The @Work Experience Framework, which point organizations to the experiences they need to create to retain women. Our research was focused on women acro...
Chapter
The first step in helping women thrive is making sure they are set up for success. Yet, 49% of women in our survey indicate that they do not feel guided or supported in how to be successful. We won’t retain women in tech—or indeed any new hires—if they do not know what to do to be successful. More importantly, we can’t help them be successful if we...
Chapter
InPart II, we have introduced tested interventions that help diverse teams improve the way they work. Our interventions structure core practices so they work better for women and all team members. They help remove interpersonal chaos and ensure that all members have a voice. They foster a valuing culture that can use feedback well. Our three-pronge...
Article
Scrum, the most popular form of agile, is often cited for creating a positive working environment for women. Its values, principles, roles, and practices are said to hold great potential to promote fairness and gender equality. But does it? Social scientific literature has identified two key dimensions to analyze processes. The first dimension exam...
Chapter
For over 40 years, we’ve been encouraging women to choose technology careers. But even with extensive recruiting, women continue to be underrepresented in technology jobs compared to other professions. Worse, once hired, women leave the field mid-career twice as often as men. High tech needs women to fulfil necessary jobs and to increase innovation...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Gender disparity in high tech is a long-standing challenge. The number of women in tech is lower than 30 years ago; women leave the field 50% more often than men; attrition costs companies money and talent. This SIG addresses the issue of gender and retention by changing key work practices. As a maker community critique, giving and receiving feedba...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In spite of many initiatives to attract and retain women in technology, the numbers are sobering. One contributing factor is a mismatch between the expectations and needs of women in technology and workplace realities in technology companies. Through qualitative and quantitative studies, we identified key factors necessary in the daily work experie...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
High tech is a sector where job opportunities exist but go unfilled. Moreover studies find that diverse teams aid both innovation and the bottom line. For over 40 years we've been encouraging women to choose technology careers but even with extensive recruiting women continue to be underrepresented compared to other professions. More importantly, o...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Improving workforce diversity in high tech is an ongoing challenge. We are currently analyzing a survey with 403 participants from the US and found that IT processionals have different experiences based on their job role. HCI professionals evaluate the core factors regarding work experience (e.g., having a valuing team, being offered challenges and...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Increasing the number of women and other underrepresented groups is a long-standing problem in high tech. Huge investments are being made to grow enrollments in college STEM programs, change hiring practices, and tackle workplace issues. But representations haven't changed. Since 2005 the percentage of women remains stagnant at 22%. Moreover, 50% o...
Chapter
Contextual Inquiry is the core field research process of Contextual Design. In this chapter we describe Contextual Inquiry: the four principles of Context, Partnership, Interpretation, and Focus; how the Cool Concepts affect the interview situation; how to structure the interview itself; and how to tailor the interview to different kinds of project...
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Telling stories of how people will work in the new system we’re designing helps the team keep the user’s life coherent. Storyboards are like freeze-frame movies representing to-be scenarios of the user’s practice. These stories ensure that a task or activity works—that the things the user wants to do are supported and that they can flow from step t...
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The Traditional Contextual Design Models introduced with Contextual Design are still viable and offer insight, but we have found that we rarely use some of them. In this chapter we discuss the Traditional Models that we do use regularly and their variants: The Sequence Model; the Decision Point Model, derived from the Cultural Model; the Physical M...
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Experience Models are derived from the insights of the Cool Project into how technology has become integral in everyday life. The Cool Project defined four ways that technology enhances life: accomplishment, connection, identity, and sensation. The Experience Models focus the team on these concepts to ensure that the team recognizes them when they...
Chapter
In Contextual Design we drive product concept and structure from a deep understanding of the user’s world. Once the User Environment Design and Interaction Patterns are defined we have a working hypothesis of what we think will deliver value to the target users. But we don’t know if that is true—and our high-level design is likely to be missing low...
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Any type of ethnographic or qualitative data is hard to organize. It’s complex and unstructured. The easiest methods of organizing the data, some sort of classification, tends to work against innovation—if you organize data into a classification you already know, how do you get new insight? The Affinity Diagram is an inductive process that bubbles...
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Good product design ensures that the life of the user is enhanced, enlivened, and remains coherent. The best way to ensure a coherent life is to reinvent technology in the context of telling the story of the new ways that users' activities might be transformed by introducing technology. In this chapter we describe the Visioning workshop, a group st...
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A new product or feature set must have the appropriate function and structure to support a natural flow of interaction. For that, Contextual Design uses the User Environment Design. The User Environment Design is a floor plan of the new product showing the places in the product, the function in that place, and the links between one place and anothe...
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In this brief concluding chapter of the book we return to the core principles of Contextual Design: immersion, design for life, structural thinking, and team-based design. We wrap up insights and reflect on the future.
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Choosing what to put into each release is a design and communication challenge—the cross-functional team, including additional players from development and marketing, must come to a shared understanding of what to release. Prioritization works best when it is based on what is of true value to the customer, what will make enough splash to be worth s...
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User-centered design recognizes that all innovation has to start with an understanding of the user—with a real-world problem to solve. And good design needs an in-depth understanding of users' tasks, motivations, intents, strategies, and detailed steps, as well as an overall grasp of how they go through their days, what technology they depend on, w...
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Products—even simple products such as cell phone apps—exist in a larger ecosystem of tools, processes, habits, and technology. Any new product has to fit into this ecosystem while simultaneously transforming the users’ lives in desirable ways. Not only must design team think about the users’ lives as a coherent whole, they must design a product tha...
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More than ever, technology is inextricably integrated into daily life; designers today are truly reinventing daily life by creating a human-technical system, a way of living and working augmented by our products and systems. That product is no longer likely to be a large monolithic application but rather a constellation of products, apps, and platf...
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Testing is an important part of any product's development process, and it's generally accepted that the sooner problems are found, the less it costs to fix them. Rough paper prototypes of the product design test the structure and user interface ideas before anything is committed to code. Paper prototypes, now a well-known, documented practice, supp...
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User insights need to be shared across a design team so that everyone can see the issues and work toward a common goal. In Contextual Design, we make all design activities team based, so that everyone builds the insights and designs together. Every interview is captured and analyzed through an Interpretation Session, a team meeting where the whole...
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At the core of innovation is immersion in the world of the user. Having produced the Affinity Diagram and consolidated models tuned to reveal insights and issues, the team is ready to use the models to drive design thinking. In this chapter we describe the Wall Walk, a process whereby the team interacts with the consolidated data, letting it stimul...
Chapter
A critical driver of success for product teams is to be able to organize the team and the project effectively. In this chapter we describe how to set the project's scope and focus to map the business mission and willingness to innovate. We describe how to put your team together, considering both cross-functional roles and the leadership needed on t...
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A design for a product must define the look and layout of the product’s screens. Interaction Patterns help the team think structurally about the high-level structure of each page or screen in the User Environment Design. We give principles of design and layout to ensure this interface structure works for the user’s activities and defines a user int...
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User-centered design asks people to go out in the field and run inquiries to understand users. But it’s still a challenge to see what matters when you’re there. The user’s world is complex, overwhelming, and full of a million details—some of which matter for any design problem and many of which don’t. As user research teams and organizations have b...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
CHI Stories is a new venue introduced at CHI 2017. A diverse set of storytellers describe personal experiences that shaped who they are and how they came to the field of Human-Computer Interaction.
Conference Paper
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A constant flow of reporting documents the lack of women and other underrepresented groups in high tech. In response, companies are working to fill the hiring pipeline. But beyond filling the pipeline, statistics show women leave technology fields in mid-career 50% more often than men. Recent research on retention and work-life issues reveals key f...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The need for user research is accepted by most high-tech companies. But getting the research into the minds of the people creating products remains challenging. UX professionals must represent the users' world and communicate findings in compelling representations that lead to design action. The challenge has become harder because mobile devices le...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
High tech continues to be a sector where job opportunities exist, and where positions go unfilled. At the same time, women and other populations continue to be underrepresented as high tech workers as compared to their numbers in the overall workforce. Many companies recognize they must diversify their workforce and have taken significant steps to...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
An ongoing stream of news reports heralds the dearth of women and minorities in technology; these stories are supported by numerous studies from industry and government sources. Now companies are investing resources to "fill the pipeline." While this is needed, it alone won't solve the diversity or gender challenge. Once they're in the workplace, r...
Chapter
The first phase of Contextual Design guides a team through gathering field data and interpreting it as a team. By capturing issues and modeling each individual user’s experience the team records the data that will later be consolidated to build a coherent view of the practices and experiences of the whole user population. This phase is about gettin...
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In the first part of Contextual Design, teams collect in-depth field data about all relevant parts of their customer’s lives. But the purpose of collecting data is to use it in making design decisions and inventing products. Helping a diverse design team take the data produced by researchers and use it for design remains one of the biggest challeng...
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The third part of Contextual Design deals with design itself: to take the concept developed in Visioning Session and elaborated in the Cool Drilldown and give it a structure, function, interaction, and look that enhances the users’ lives. Creating good, innovative designs has always been hard; now that connected devices are everywhere, fitting into...
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Since the late 1980s, the basic idea that designers must understand the context of task activities being supported has stood the test of time. Accordingly, Contextual Design introduced a set of models—diagrams and pictures, each showing one aspect of the users’ life context. These original Contextual Design models success-fully focused the design e...
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Contextual Design encourages holistic, systemic design, looking at the whole work and life context of use and responding with an integrated design that broadly supports user activities. From visioning through validation the team takes a large, loose product concept and turns it into a detailed design that can guide product specification and rollout...
Article
Download Free Sample Contextual Design is a user-centered design process that uses in-depth field research to drive innovative design. Contextual Design was first invented in 1988 and has since been used in a wide variety of industries and taught in universities all over the world. It is a complete front-end design process rooted in Contextual Inqu...
Conference Paper
Cool products deliver a leap of value – so much so that people exclaim they are “cool”. Cool products are transformative but cool can fade with time as people get used to them. Compared to other measures, the cool measures are assumed to be more subjective and qualitative in nature. Cool is being redefined all the time; what is cool today will prob...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Interactive technologies have a profound mediating effect on the way we obtain and contribute to knowledge, relate to each other and contribute to society. Often, "gender" is not a factor that is explicitly considered in the design of these technologies. When gender is considered, products are often designed with idealised models of gendered "users...
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Cool products provide a leap in value and they increase a company's market share. The widespread adoption of iOS and Android devices resulted in a radical change in the role of technology in people's lives. And anecdotally people exclaimed about how "cool" their devices were; "I can't go back" to what I had before and "I can't stop talking about it...
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Responsive Design. Mobile First. Agile Development. Lean UX. Crowdsourcing. Machine Learning. In a world that has been disrupted by new technologies and approaches, what does it mean to do "front-end" or "user-centered design"? Are we relying on methods that are too rooted in the past? What techniques are succeeding and what changes do we need to b...
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As the industry evolved from engineering-centered design to user-centered design, organizations created new roles. These user experience (UX) roles are charged with conducting user studies, synthesizing data collected, and communicating findings to product managers, engineers, and UI designers. While it's generally accepted that user research shoul...
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Creating products and systems that deliver exceptional user experience is a challenge faced by product managers, user experience specialists, and product designers. The challenge has grown keener as users expect to interact seamlessly across a variety of platforms, as computing completes its move from being about computers to being integrated into...
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The results of the Cool Project introduced to understand the factors that drive the introduction of innovative designs in the technologies are presented. A Wheel of Joy and Triangle of Design are employed to represent the core life motivators. The Wheel of Joy and the Triangle of Design together define the aspects of life and experience that design...
Conference Paper
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Design practitioners know that part of their job is to create products and services with usability in mind. Making products and services learnable, efficient and pleasant to use are certainly goals, but every designer dreams of creating something more - something so great that people crave it, long for it, must have it. Marketers call it "a must ha...
Article
Both handwriting recognition systems and their users are error prone. Handwriting recognizers make recognition errors, and users may miss those errors when verifying output. As a result, it is common for recognized documents to contain residual errors. ...
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In many organizations, actively engaging in user-centered design (UCD) techniques is standard practice when delivering products into the commercial marketplace or to external customers. But in these same organizations -- or in organizations not delivering products to an external customer -- the creation of systems for use by employees is a conversa...
Article
Publisher Summary The affinity diagram essentially brings issues and insights across all customers together into a wall-sized, hierarchical diagram. In the interpretation sessions, the individual notes representing the user's data are captured. These interpretation session notes are known as affinity notes and are used to build the affinity diagram...
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A persona is a one-page textual description of a typical user. This typical user is an amalgam of elements drawn from several users who share common job roles, demographics, and user need characteristics. It is noted that the persona is given a realistic username, a head-shot photo expressive of the nature of these users, and a textual description....
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A paper prototype refers to paper representation of the product. It is generally constructed out of post-it notes, other pieces of paper, or any other material. It allows to test the design with the user interactively. Everything in the prototype needs to be movable and changeable so that one can add user content, change the interface structure, an...
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Walking the data refers to a process that enables each team member and stakeholder to interact with the data, become familiar with it, generate design ideas, and find holes in the data to drive additional data collection. This chapter illustrates the process of interacting with, or walking, the affinity diagram and consolidated sequences to arrive...
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Contextual Design helps to use customer data to produce the right design for the company. It also encourages organizations to make decisions about system direction and redesigned work practice based on how real people work and live. Rapid CD processes help to get data into the design processes in as little as two to four weeks. It takes a little ad...
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This chapter explores how to run the contextual interview (CI), the types of information required, and how to approach users. This chapter also provides guidance on how to handle the various situations that can be faced while out there in the field. In order to design a product that meets customers' real needs, designers must understand the custome...
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Once an interview is completed, the next step is to share it with the rest of the team in an interpretation session. It is noted that contextual interviews produce large amounts of customer data, all of which must be shared among the core design team and potentially with other stakeholders such as user interface designers, engineers, documentation...
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Consolidating the individual work models essentially helps in building a single and coherent view of the customer's work practice. This chapter describes the process of transforming the set of individual sequence models into consolidated sequences. A consolidated sequence model demonstrates the detailed work structure of the core user tasks. It col...
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A vision is essentially a hand-drawn, graphical representation. It is a high-level story of the customer's new practice. The vision describes what is in the new environment and how it works as told from the user's point of view. It includes possible changes in technology, user interface function, underlying business rules, role definition, and proc...
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This chapter illustrates the creation of the storyboards. Storyboards are like freeze-frame movies of the new work practice. The team draws step-by-step pictures of how people can work in their new world. Storyboards include manual steps, rough user interface components, system activity and automation, and documentation use. Storyboards generally a...
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Rapid contextual design presents strategies for getting user data into projects. Rapid CD design processes pull together the sets of techniques from contextual design in order to address the project problems. Several viable rapid CD design processes are available that helps in choosing what CD techniques to use for the project. These processes incl...
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It is noted that the phases of rapid contextual design can be broken up into three fundamental parts—namely, requirements gathering, work or activity redesign, and user experience design. These phases effectively maps well to any corporate or agile methodology particularly for basic requirements gathering, including business case, product or system...
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Work models provide a language for seeing work and often help reveal important distinctions. They provide a clear way of capturing complex qualitative data and help the team to visualize the work structure by representing it in physical diagrams. It is essentially a diagram that captures the structure of the users' work or activity. The three main...
Chapter
Paper prototype or mock-up interviews are two-on-one interviews conducted in the user's workspace that focuses on observations of the user using the prototype to do their own work. The interviewer offers suggested design changes based on the user's response, and together they change the prototype that better suit the work's needs. Paper prototype i...
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It is noted that the data is only as good as the people being interviewed. The goal is to get a good cross-section of the target user population even with a small number of participants. It is also important to get enough coverage of each type of participant. Rapid CD targets initial contextual interviews with four to twelve people. Increasing this...
Article
Designing applications for mobile platforms presents unique and harder challenges than traditional software design. Users of such devices expect to be able to run such applications with no training, no traditional packaging elements such as “quick start” cards, and no help system. Customer-centered design is probably the only way such applications...
Article
Full-text available
The design challenges and experiences faced during the designing of mobile devices are discussed. Mobile devices are opening up business opportunities, and conveniences for users. One of the challenge for designing the mobile devices is lack of screen space. The fundamental areas that should be considered while designing are method, business, and b...
Conference Paper
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This SIG provides a forum for discussing how user-centered methods, including methods like Contextual Design that include field data gathering, can be modified to support short development time frames and organizations using rapid development methodologies. We share ideas for how to get field data into the fast-paced development process, discuss th...
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Businesses' business is to stay in business---to create value for customers while creating jobs and revenue for employees and stakeholders. Government can also be thought of as a "business"---government must create value for citizens by providing services and managing government operations efficiently. Behind good government and good business are p...
Book
Is it impossible to schedule enough time to include users in your design process? Is it difficult to incorporate elaborate user-centered design techniques into your own standard design practices? Do the resources needed seem overwhelming? This handbook introduces Rapid CD, a fast-paced, adaptive form of Contextual Design. Rapid CD is a hands-on gui...
Chapter
Instruction should go well beyond a skill focus to one that connects technology use with the actual aims of curriculum and learning outcomes
Conference Paper
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Agile methods have proven their worth in keeping a development team focused on producing high-quality code quickly. But these methods generally have little to say about how to incorporate user-centered design techniques. Also the question has been raised whether agile methods can scale up to larger systems design . In this paper we show how one use...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This SIG provides a forum for discussing how customer-centered techniques can best be used to gather requirements for mobile applications, especially considering the possibilities that new technologies offer. We will discuss when and how to modify customer-centered design for initial requirements gathering and during paper mock-up interviews. We wi...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The goal of this SIG is to provide a discussion area for those interested in overcoming the challenges of introducing-and then successfully establishing-customer-centered design techniques in organizations. SIG participants will share the challenges they've faced in trying to initiate customer-centered design and share possible solutions to the cha...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Field research techniques generate large amounts of unstructured data about users: their work practice, attitudes, strategies, motivations, and so forth. Managing, organizing, communicating, and making sense of this complex and rich data is an ongoing problem for HCI researchers. InContext performs field research and design for its clients, so we h...
Article
Full-text available
Field Methods are a collection of tools and techniques for conducting studies of users, their tasks, and their work environments in the actual context of those environments. The promise of such methods is that they help teams design products that are both useful and usable by providing data about what people really do. Participants in this forum wi...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Field Methods are a collection of tools and techniques for conducting studies of users, their tasks, and their work environments in the actual context of those environments. The promise of such methods is that they help teams design products that are both useful and usable by providing data about what people really do. Participants in this forum wi...