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Constantine and Lockwood

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Activity Modeling: Toward a Pragmatic Integration of Activity Theory with Usage-Centered Design   (PDF)

Activity modeling is a systematic approach to organizing and representing the contextual aspects of tool use that is both well-grounded in an accepted theoretical framework and embedded within a proven design method. Activity theory provides the vocabulary and conceptual framework for understanding the human use of tools and other artifacts. Usage-centered design provides the methodological scaffolding for applying activity theory in practice. In this Technical Paper, activity theory and usage-centered design are outlined and the connections between the two are highlighted. Simple extensions to the models of usage-centered design are introduced that together succinctly model the salient and most essential features of the activities within which tool use is embedded. Although not intended as a tutorial, examples of Activity Maps, Activity Profiles, and Participation Maps are provided.

Constantine, Larry L. Constantine and Lockwood (2006). Articles>User Centered Design>Methods


Beyond User-Centered Design and User Experience: Designing for User Performance   (PDF)

The shortcomings and limitations of user-centered and user experience design are considered and contrasted with usage-centered design. The iterative, trial-and-error approach of traditional user-centered approaches is argued to lead to excessive dependence on user testing and user approval, leading to overly conservative designs. By contrast, model-driven approaches based on fine-grained task models have a proven record of leading to dramatic improvements in user performance through innovative designs.

Constantine, Larry L. Constantine and Lockwood (2006). Articles>User Centered Design>User Experience>EPSS


Canonical Abstract Prototypes for Abstract Visual and Interaction Design   (PDF)

Abstract user interface prototypes offer designers a form of representation for specification and exploration of visual and interaction design ideas that is intermediate between abstract task models and realistic or representational prototypes. Canonical Abstract Prototypes are an extension to usage-centered design that provides a formal vocabulary for expressing visual and interaction designs without concern for details of appearance and behavior. A standardized abstract design vocabulary facilitates comparison of designs, eases recognition and simplifies description of common design patterns, and lays the foundations for better software tools. This paper covers recent refinements in the modeling notation and the set of Canonical Abstract Components. New applications of abstract prototypes to design patterns are discussed, and variations in software tools support are outlined.

Constantine, Larry L. Constantine and Lockwood (2003). Articles>User Interface>Interaction Design>Visual Rhetoric


Design Study 2: Structured Selection with a Multi-Modal Extended Selection List   (PDF)

The design of a special-purpose selection list is reviewed. As part of a performance-support application for classroom teachers, a means was needed for rapid selection from a large number of alternative words. By taking into account the inherent structure of the terms in the list, instead of treating it as a simple list of unspecified objects, a more efficient and more easily used design was achieved. By incorporating the structure of the alternatives, the design was also able to reflect and support best practices in classroom lesson planning.

Constantine, Larry L. and Lucy A.D. Lockwood. Constantine and Lockwood (2001). Design>User Interface>Usability


Devilish Details: Best Practices in Web Design   (PDF)

Visual and interaction design for successful e-commerce Web sites and Web-based applications requires meticulous attention to detail. Because the smallest matters can ruin the user experience, an orderly process--such as usage-centered design--guided by robust principles is needed; iterative testing and repetitive redesign is inadequate to find and address all the diverse matters needing attention. This paper reviews basic principles and then surveys best practices in the detailed aspects of Web design in three broad areas: details of architecture or organization, details of interaction design, and details relating to commercial activity, especially shopping. Specific recommendations in each area are offered as examples of best practices based on usage-centered principles.

Constantine, Larry L. Constantine and Lockwood (2003). Design>Web Design>Information Design>Interaction Design


The Emperor Has No Clothes: Naked Objects Meet the Interface   (PDF)

Naked Objects, the latest incarnation of the persistent notion of object-oriented user interfaces, proposes to eliminate the need for visual and interaction design of user interfaces by always presenting users with unadorned domain objects in a standard form and by constraining all interaction to the same few interaction idioms. Such simplistic user interfaces can be generated automatically through a software framework. This article examines the likely impact of the Naked Objects approach in light of its strengths and shortcomings as well as its undeniable appeal to developers and decision makers seeking shortcuts to user interface design. The ultimate significance of Naked Objects may be in the lessons it offers for practicing professionals, lessons that highlight the need for empowering users as problem-solvers by giving them better tools that enable them to achieve diverse ends by diverse means.

Constantine, Larry L. Constantine and Lockwood (2002). Design>User Interface>Methods


Essential Use Cases and Responsibility in Object-Oriented Development   (PDF)

Essential use cases are abstract, lightweight, technology-free dialogues of user intentions and system responsibilities that effectively capture requirements for user interface design. Employing essential use cases in typical object-oriented development processes requires designers to translate them into conventional use cases, costing time, imposing rework, and delaying work on the object-oriented development until the user interface design is complete. We describe how essential use cases can drive object-oriented development directly, without any intervening translation, allowing user interface development to proceed in parallel. Working with essential use cases yields some unexpected further benefits: analysts can take advantage of recurring patterns in essential use cases, and the crucial common vocabulary of responsibilities lets designers trace directly from the essential use cases to the objects in their design.

Biddle, Robert, James Noble and Ewan Tempero. Constantine and Lockwood (2001). Articles>User Interface>Methods


Essential Use Cases for Multiplatform Service Design   (PDF)

This paper addresses the problem of designing service interaction for multiplatform operations and is based on a qualitative study of the services offered by a large retail Portuguese bank in four channels: bank branches, telephone, ATM, and Internet. The functionality of bank services across such channels was captured with essential use cases, which are technology free. When customers are free to decide in which channel they are going to get the service they need, customer experience (non-functional) requirements becoming ever more important. Essential use cases were extended to take account of such customer experience requirements. This additional information in essential use cases is very helpful, as it provides concrete and objective guidelines regarding the most suitable channel for implementing and offering each particular service. Doing essential use case modeling for multiplatform service interaction helps service providers allocate resources to the most likely channels that customers will use. It also allows them to identify areas of interaction experience that need to be improved if services offered are likely to be effectively used in the platform.

Patrício, Lia, J. Falcão e Cunha, Raymond P. Fisk and Nuno J. Nunes. Constantine and Lockwood (2003). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Usability>Case Studies


From Essential Use Cases to Objects   (PDF)

One of the main motivations for essential use cases was the context of user interface design. We, however, have been exploring the application of essential use cases in general object-oriented system development. Our experience has been very positive, and we found advantages to essential use cases that assist in both analysis and in design. This paper outlines two techniques involving essential use cases: use of role-play in requirements analysis, and distribution of system requirements from essential use cases to objects.

Biddle, Robert, James Noble and Ewan Tempero. Constantine and Lockwood (2003). Articles>User Interface>Methods


From Usage Scenarios to User Interface Elements in a Few Steps   (PDF)

In practice, designers often select user interface elements like widgets intuitively. So, important design decisions may never become conscious or explicit, and therefore also not traceable. In order to improve this situation, we propose a systematic process for selecting user interface elements (in the form of widgets) in a few explicitly defined steps, starting from usage scenarios. This process provides a seamless way of going from scenarios through (attached) subtask definitions and various task classifications and (de)compositions to widget classes. In this way, it makes an important part of user interface design more systematic and conscious. For an initial evaluation of the usefulness of this approach, we conducted a small experiment that compares the widgets of an industrial GUI that was developed as usual by experienced practitioners, with the outcome of an independent execution of the proposed process. Since the results of this experiment are encouraging, we suggest to investigate this approach further in real-world practice.

Kaindl, Hermann and Rudolf Jezek. Constantine and Lockwood (2002). Design>User Interface>User Centered Design


Instructive Interaction: Making Innovative Interfaces Self-Teaching   (PDF)

An innovative approach to enhancing ease of use and learning for novel user interfaces is described. Instructive interaction comprises a body of techniques based on a learning-by-doing model that is supported by three design principles: explorability, predictability, and guidance. Taken together, these principles form the basis for creative designs that can support highly efficient production use by experienced users while also enabling new users to understand and make effective use of an unfamiliar system almost immediately. The underlying principles of instructive interaction are presented here and an assortment of specific techniques based on these principles is described.

Constantine, Larry L. and Lucy A.D. Lockwood. Constantine and Lockwood (2002). Articles>User Interface>Documentation


Trusted Interaction: User Control and System Responsibilities in Interaction Design for Information Systems   (PDF)

Trust emerges from interaction. If trust in information systems is to be promoted, then attention must be directed, at least in part, to interaction design. This paper explores issues of trust in the interactions between users and systems from the perspective of interaction design. It considers a variety of pragmatic aspects in interaction design that impact user trust, including, predictability, interface stability, user control, and the match between expectations and performance. It critically examines contemporary design practices, such as adaptive interfaces, in terms of their impact on user trust.

Constantine, Larry L. Constantine and Lockwood (2006). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Interaction Design


User-Centered Engineering for Web Applications   (PDF)

This paper presents a lightweight form of usage-centered design that has proved particularly effective in designing highly usable Web-based applications. Fully compatible with both traditional object-oriented software engineering methods and newer agile techniques such as Extreme Programming, this approach employs rapid, card-based techniques to develop simplified models of user roles, tasks, and user interface contents. The process attempts to resolve the conflict between the demands of rapid iterative design and incremental development on the one hand and the needs for integrity in a user interface fitted to the full set of user tasks on the other. The resolution depends on creating a navigation architecture and a visual and interaction design scheme based on quick but comprehensive task modeling. The process is illustrated with experiences from the design of a Web-deployed application for classroom teachers.

Constantine, Larry L. and Lucy A.D. Lockwood. Constantine and Lockwood (2002). Design>Web Design>User Centered Design


Users, Roles, and Personas   (PDF)

User role models are compared in detail with the popular user modeling technique of personas. User roles offer a more compact, more focused means of capturing and exploring those aspects of users most relevant to interaction design. The advantages and limitations of the approaches are considered and a combined strategy is described.

Constantine, Larry L. Constantine and Lockwood (2006). Articles>User Centered Design>Methods>Personas


What It Really Takes to Handle Exceptional Conditions   (PDF)

Handling exceptions, errors, and alternative flows are a critical part of defining good use cases and designing good software. Correct handling of esceptional conditions is not only necessary for correct realization of requirements and for system reliability, but is also an important factor in usability. This paper details a systematic approach to the design of exception handling in object-oriented software.

Wirfs-Brock, Rebecca. Constantine and Lockwood (2003). Articles>Usability>Programming

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