Background

Introduction

The shift of emphasis in the field of Human-computer Interaction (HCI) from usability to user experience (UX) challenges HCI professionals to deal with the expanding scope of interaction design. Transferring ‘old’ methods, with which HCI professionals are familiar, to new contexts can be a practical ‘intermediate’ solution. Indeed, it is observed that UX methods are largely drawn from the existing usability work ([3], [13]). However, more fit-for-purpose-and-context HCI methods should be created. Developing such methods entails a viable research programme, which can be built upon insights gained from success as well as failure cases of method transfer.  Unfortunately, little is known about the process of such transfer, despite a set of related studies on usability practice in reality.

 Understanding which, why, who, what, when, where and how (six W and one H questions) HCI methods are deployed by HCI professionals has been researched for about two decades; pioneer studies include [4].  More recently, two international projects networking a large group of HCI researchers and practitioners in Europe, MAUSE  and TwinTide , have dealt with the six Ws and one H questions pertaining to usability evaluation methods (UEM) and to UX design and evaluation methods (UXDEM), respectively. Among different challenges tackled by the two projects, comparing UEMs and transferring UXDEM across a range of usage contexts have been seen to be fraught with difficulties.  

With this workshop, we aim to gather practitioners and researchers together from the wider HCI community to examine issues on method-transfer based on the perspective of approaches and resources, and case study analyses.

Related Work and Relevance to the Field

The view on the nature of HCI methods, including UEM and UXDEM, has evolved with the ongoing discussions within and outside the projects, and been crystallized in the recent publication of Woolrych and collaborators [16]. Accordingly, rather than treating a HCI method as an irreducible whole consisting of prescriptive procedural instructions, it is more appropriate to see a HCI method as a set of constituent resources, such as problem merging, heuristics, analysis, reporting formats, and task selection (for details see [16]). Only some of these resources pre-exist specific design work (often grouped into named approaches). Incomplete resources for an approach are configured and combined according to several contextual factors, scoped by project characteristics or organization where method-resources are instantiated.

As well as focusing on resources, [16] proposes a four-stage research program towards formal experimentation on resource choice and use within usability and UX work. The first and foremost stage is to capture the relevant rich context (e.g. designers’ repertoire, corporate culture, product attributes) with detailed, well-structured case studies [16]). For instance, case studies on cognitive walkthrough were conducted by John and colleagues ([5]). However, wider use of this research strategy is needed.

Several studies on investigating professional usability practice have mostly employed questionnaires (e.g. [2], [8], [14]), which, albeit lacking in contextual details, provided some useful insights into which and why (and to a limited extent how) HCI methods were applied in practice.  In contrast, there are only a few studies attempting to study usability work in its full dynamic complexity. Furniss, based on in-depth interviews with practitioners, built a model of how contextual factors influenced the selection and application of UEMs [7]. Similarly, Lárusdóttir and her colleagues [9] looked at how UX related activities could be integrated into Scrum projects by intensively interviewing two UX specialists. Folstad and associates [6] also conducted interviews with usability professionals, though smaller in scale and scope, to understand how practitioners analyzed usability data.

No published research has focused on collecting cases that describe how practitioners transfer re-usable HCI approaches into new contexts. The process involves tacit knowledge and strategies, which will become more conscious and easier to externalize when the usage context changes [10], stimulating HCI professionals to reflect on the resources and settings for further adaptation. Such reflections and related knowledge and strategies are an integral part of a case study. Meta-reviewing a critical mass of such case studies will lead to a body of applied knowledge that is very valuable for: (i) educating and training novice HCI professionals; (ii) developing innovative HCI methods to address new usage contexts; (iii) laying the foundation work for formal comparisons of design and evaluation methods [16].

 

 

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