Most companies that produce physical goods use a process very close to that developed by the famous New Product Development firm, IDEO, many years ago. The high-level diagram for such a process is shown below.
Large Software Development companies often use one of several well-known “Methodologies” or "Development Processes" in an attempt to provide a common model for coordination of work and deliverables among the many teams involved in big software engineering projects. One of these Processes is called the Rational Unified Process and is better known by its acronym, RUP.
RUP. well as its competitors such as Extreme Programming, is extremely complex and rarely meets the needs of its users without modification and additions. One general area, despite the rhetoric of product literature from IBM (the current owner of the RUP process and the plethora of expensive software necessary to implement it), which is barely modeled in RUP are all of the tasks having to do with End Users--the end-user-centric parts of software development are often called User Experience (UX) and include the areas of...
Human Factors & Usability
Parts of Software Engineering that deal with or affect the design and development of User Interfaces
While an employee of a financial software firm, and later as a consultant, Dr. Rickert led a cross-disciplinary team to model the neglected expertise areas mentioned above and to develop formal deliverable templates (i.e. templates for documents) to correspond to the added and/or revised workflows (tasks). Don Rickert had many years of experience with development methodolgies going back to his days as a Product Manager with James Martin Associates, creators of the Information Engineering, RAD (Rapid Application Development) and other similar methodologies.
Click on the “Roadmap" thumbnail for a larger view or you may wish to View this image full-size so that you can actually read it. The revised “RUP Roadmap” reflects substantial and significant revision to standard RUP. Much work was done on all of the workflow rows, but we are only going to focus on one of them here.
The highlighted row (called a "Swim Lane" in RUP parlance) labeled “Human Factors & Customer Insights” shows a number of deliverables added to standard RUP. Additionally,the deliverables with a red highlight are those that were extremely modified in order to be useful. Note that the many interrelationships between tasks in one area and those in other areas are not shown in this version of the map for the sake of simplicity.
Summary of the RUP changes for the Client
Analyze Most Current Research Findings
Previous usability testing of the same product
Usability testing results from other related projects
Client Company Customer Satisfaction Survey
Other strategic customer/user studies conducted by Human Factors & Customer Insight
Usability Review of the UI Concept
The UI Concept is illustrated in the Functional Requirements Document (FRD), described later.
This is an expert review (AKA “Heuristic Evaluation
Answers the questions…
Does the UI Concept describe a user experience that has a high probability of being usable? …Accessible?
Are the UI Concept and Use Cases consistent with known Customer/User Research findings?
Were the UI Best Practices and other related standards followed with fidelity?
What are the probable high severity problems?
Elaboration Usability Testing
One or two Usability Tests
Optional second test can be a test of different functionality or a re-test of a problem area observed in the first test.
Conducted in a formal Usability Laboratory or at a customer site
At least 8 participants who are judged to be similar on relevant characteristics to actual end-users of the product
Artifacts to be tested are either the current demo or mockups of the UI (or both).
Not merely a certification exercise
A way to help UI Designers to refine their approach
Principle of iterative development
Construction Usability Testing
Certain aspects of usability, such as realistic performance, can only be tested with a true production system.
The following should be tested:
New Artifacts (Deliverables)
User Experience and Usability Supplemental Specifications
The most current and useful research data related to—
Key information about essential external standards related to usability and accessibility
e.g. Common Industry Format
e.g. ADA, WAI, Section 508 etc.
Research Approach Document
Summarizes the high-level assessment of the type of usability tests that will be necessary in Elaboration and Construction.
Elaboration Usability Test Plan
Low-level tactical plan for the two usability tests of the Demo/Mockups in Elaboration
Summarizes results of the UI Concept Review.
Format is based on the guidelines set forth in the Common Industry Format for Usability Reports standard (ANSI/INCITS-354 Common Industry Format).
Elaboration Usability Results
Documents the usability of the UI Demo/Mockup in Common Industry Format (CIF)
Identified problems are prioritized by severity.
Construction Usability Test Plan
Low-level tactical plan for the usability test of the Production UI in Construction
Construction Usability Results
Documents the usability of the Production UI
Identified problems are prioritized by severity.
Certification Checklist for Usability
Not new per se, but new as a formal part of the sanctioned development process
A Certification artifact that certifies that the product is usable and accessible
Existing RUP Artifacts That Were Generally Ignored
Used to verify that recommendations from Usability Review and Elaboration Usability Testing have been incorporated into the overall UI design.
Pointed to the need for development teams to actually create the Screen Specifications—something that had been skipped by most development teams..
Functional Requirements Document (FRD)
Contains screen mockups and explanations of system behavior
Important for the creation of usability test plans as well as for usability review of the UI Concept
Challenge: Not all development teams created an FRD
Design Approach Document
Existing RUP Templates That Had to be Revised or Expanded
Marketing Requirements Document (MRD)
The MRD template was revised to include Human Factors & Customer Insight
Addtional enhancements to the MRD template included:
A section on User Intent
illustrative scenarios based on strategic field research conducted by Human Factors/Customer Insight as well as lessons learned documented by UI Designers.
A section on Competitive User Experience (comparison to similar products from competitors)
Reviewer and Approver Matrix
The RUP template, Reviewer_Approver_Matrix.dot was revised to include Human Factors & Customer Insight.
Project Definition Document
The template, PDD.dot was revised to include Human Factors & Customer Insight.
Since every consulting engagement is different, and our clients have their own product development processes, there is no single process. That being said, when developing our own products we do follow a specific NPD process, summarized on the diagram below. The diagram is a good way to organize communication of all of the things we can do FOR YOU. Watch the short video below for the details.