Software development for and with users
User-centered system design is about understanding how people use technology
We have all had trouble using VHS players and cell phones, not to mention maddening Internet services.
The only way to improve these is to work alongside users to understand how they use technology. This is what
user-centered system design is all about.
Cooperation between system developers and users is not easy. Developers often feel that users don't understand
what is in their own best interest, that they can't make up their minds, and that they are often anti-technological
to start with. For their part, users think that software developers are more interested in playing with new
technologies than in producing usable systems for them.
User-centered system design is a process that focuses on making systems more usable based on close
cooperation between developer and user throughout the entire development cycle. The advantage is not merely
attaining higher quality in the products constructed, but also reducing occupational health problems that
may arise owing to deficient technologies.
To be able to develop user-centered methods and techniques that function in practice, it is crucial for research
to be pursued in collaboration with industry and other organizations. Researchers at the department work
together with IT consultants, authorities, trade unions, and industry on their own everyday problems, helping
to incorporate usability efforts in their development.
The most recent project involves cooperating with Third World countries that wish to develop user-centered
methods. If India, for example, is to develop programs that can be used in the Western world, developers
there will have to cooperate with users who are thousands of miles away, with another culture, other time zones,
and other languages.