Smarter Software with Activity-Centered Design

Solving the right problem

by Stephan Schwab

Short:

Software is a mediating tool in the sense that the activities performed through it are being altered by using it. That leads to changes in the relationships between users, the object of their work, rules, organization, and division of labor. Good product design comes from a deep understanding of what people want to do through software and of the context they are in.

The lecture provides an introduction to Cultural-Historical Activity Theory and shows how to apply it to identify the right problem to solve, how to validate hypotheses and how to discover better user stories and acceptance criteria for development.

Goal of the session: Better understanding of the problem; Making smarter software
Intended audience: Marieke, Bram, Vincent, Joke, Ellen (see Personas)
Experience level: Have worked with user stories
Session Type: presentation
Topic: Customer and Planning
Duration: 60 min
Max participants:
Laptops required:


Detailed Description

Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) was first developed in the 1920s by Russian psychologists during studies of children to understand how they learn and develop abilities. In the 1980s Yrjö Engeström from Finland improved it to make it useful in the field of developmental work research. Slowly it is finding it's way into interaction design.

Based on Activity Theory, the talk explains how software as a mediating tool triggers developmental processes in the user and the organization where software is being used. This development leads to reciprocal changes in the additional relationships between the user and rules, the user and the organization, division of labor and with the object of the activity being performed through software as a tool.

Developers will be able to create smarter software that is more fit and better meets the needs of users and organizations by understanding how the tool software impacts all those relationships. The talk introduces Activity-Centered Design as a feedback-oriented technique aimed at agile teams comprised of all roles including user experience (UX) designers. Teams can use it to identify the right problem to solve, how to validate hypotheses and how to discover better user stories and acceptance criteria for software development.

Created: 11/06/12 20:09 -- Modified: 21/08/12 15:56
Back to program