The development of products should also be about the people that use them. This especially applies to software products: Only when software satisfies its users and helps them achieve their goals effectively and efficiently, is it good software—software with high usability.
The fact that the investment in usability is worth it, numerous studies were conducted around the world and in different industries. Well-known studies among others by Dr. Clare-Marie Karat of IBM research center have shown: More than 60% of the overall cost of a software development project can emerge after completion of the development through changes and enhancements which result from the unexpected requirements of the users of the system. That has to do with the fact that:
- often about 40% of the functionality you need to complete the implementation is missing and
- the new development of these functions at a late stage of the software development is much more expensive than at an early stage.
Therefore, it is much more economical to talk with the (future) users about their user requirements in an early phase of the development. User requirements differ significantly from functional requirements. A user requirement is an action that a user must execute to achieve a goal or task. This may involve actions such as “select something” or “enter something”, but also about cognitive performances such as “identify something” or “understand something”.
Leaving aside the cost aspect, other reasons arise which suggest users permanent inclusion in a software development project—for example, as a source of relevant information through involvement in the design or in the assessment of solutions.
At this point, our process for the design of interactive systems comes in.
A system can only fulfill the user and organizational requirements when all relevant user groups and stakeholders as well as their goals and working conditions have been determined and considered. With such a system, users will work willingly and more efficiently—and consequently be more productive.
Florian Geyer, itemis AG
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