What’s the Problem?

by Tim Meehan, Norm Carr

33 Reader Comments

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  1. Learned about User Stories (or use cases) through a book called Extreme Programming, which has the unfortunate acronym of XP.


    In any event, the books on XP helped tons in my role as UI designer and liason between customer (User) and developer. And shaped how I communicate with any new client, no matter how small the site or job at hand.

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  2. Joshua Porter makes a crucial point when he says that observation is better than consideration. This is a distinction I make between weak and strong user-centered design. In weak UCD, we think about, or read articles about, users and then design stuff for them. In strong UCD, we observe them, preferably in the field, not just in the lab, and iterate with them during the design process (an approach at least somewhat compatible with agile methods).

    Use cases can become simply another way of foisting our pre/misconceptions on unsuspecting users if we do not ground them in a rich understanding of users’ motivations, tasks, environment, and characteristics. The risk of this happening increases as the people for whom we are designing/building are less like us.

    While either use cases or scenarios can help interaction designers and software engineers communicate, I prefer Contextual Design, with its emphasis on involving the entire cross-functional team in UCD. I’ve seen it transform an entire organization’s approach to developing software.


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  3. This article’s Russian translation is avalable at:

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