Posted by: bbannan | February 1, 2012

Iterative Development – Beth

In Chapter 3, Kuniavsky discusses the concept of balancing the needs of a user. The definition of a successful product (whether an application, website, or training package) is different to the stakeholders involved in product development.  A user looks for a functional, efficient and desirable product.  Advertisers want a product to experience high traffic and have high awareness.  A company wants a product to be profitable and promotable. In his article The seven habits of effective iterative development, Cardozo (2002) encourages designers to adopt a proactive attitude in order to develop partnerships with stakeholders.  During the development process, designers should consult with all stakeholders to ensure the product is as successful as possible.

Iterative development is the process of refining through trial and error.  During this semester, our groups will be following an iterative design process.  Throughout each version of development, we will examine, define, and create our mobile applications.  During examination, questions will be asked, needs will be analyzed and evaluated and possible solutions will be discussed.  Cardozo (2002) states to “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”  Designers must be able to understand the objectives and needs prior to determining solutions.  All stakeholders should be considered and consulted to understand their point of view.  A designer who does not understand the needs of the stakeholders will not be able to create a successful product.  Once solutions are agreed upon by designers, those solutions will be defined in larger detail.  As details emerge, design creation begins.  Developers should be flexible, adaptable, and have a shared vision throughout the iterative development process as there is not one right way of developing a product.  I hope that after completion of EDIT 732, each team has developed a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each team member.  Understanding how to work within a team is critical to success in iterative development according to Cardozo.

Melzer et al (2009) suggest that designing mobile learning applications benefit from using an iterative design process.  Melzer et al goes onto suggest that because an iterative design process involves student participation it bridges the gap between classroom learning and outside the classroom experiences.

An example of iterative development is described by Kuniavsky at the end of Chapter 3.  Another example of an iterative design process can be found here: http://www.educause.edu.mutex.gmu.edu/EDUCAUSE+Review/EDUCAUSEReviewMagazineVolume46/MakinganApp/238422

After reading Chapter 3 and learning about the iterative design process, I realized that I follow this process at work but had no idea that I was following an iterative design process.  My schedules from training development are divided into three phases: storyboard development, alpha development, and beta development.  Training is developed in sequences to ensure that all ideas are not delivered at once.  Cardozo (2002) refers to this as developing a delivery habit to ensure that progress is made.  At the end of each development period, I sit down with my client and a select group of users to obtain their input on the product.  Changes are identified and I work to incorporate their changes into the next version of my design.  My process is cyclical and although it takes time to find willing users to test my product, I have always felt that each input I receive contributes positively to the final product that I deliver.

References:

Cardozo, E. L. (2002). The seven habits of effective iterative development. http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/rational/library/1742.html

Fontana, A. (2011). Making an App. EDUCAUSE Review Magazine, 46(6), 108-109.

Melzer, A., Hadley, L., Glasemann, M., Günther, S., Winkler, T., & Herczeg, M. (2009). Iterative Design of Mobile Learning Systems for School Projects. Technology, Instruction, Cognition & Learning, 6(4), 235-251.

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Responses

  1. Beth,
    I discovered that I was using similar processes at my job as well. I find that with the amount of projects I am working on at the same time, this iterative process helps me to involve (as much as I can) others in the creative process and ensure the instructional strategies I am attempting to implement are producing the result I am looking for. I oftem work with the same SMEs or SMEs from the same departments. I wish I had a larger team, but I am finding that as I build positive relationships with my SMEs and internal clients, the collaborative process needed to have effective feedback during development is getting much easier.
    -Katherine

  2. Beth and Katherine,

    Thank you for sharing your job experience on using interactive user research throughout the development phase. I believe that working with groups to collect data from users/clients, conduct usability testing, write and distribute surveys…etc is more effective and sufficient than doing all that alone. I just got hired by the Office of Sponsored Programs here at GMU to redesign their site for the purpose of faculty training. The site has a large amount of information that needs to be organized based on different tasks. I feel lucky to start this job with Kuniavsky’s book in my hand. However, at the same time, I do not think conducting user research alone will be easy. I like to be optimistic and up to challenges. In fact, Kuniavsky is explaining the user research process step-by-step in chapter 5, which is a good news for me and all who like to apply user experience.

    • congrats on your new job, and I definitely agree that working in groups is more productive than working alone.

  3. Boshra,

    I agree with you about working in groups to collect data. Working in a collaborative environment is more efficient in the sense that it brings creativity, reduces the chances of errors and basis viewpoints.

  4. Iterative development could be used for other forms of media other than technological based learning environments. Educational videos and television shows for example could greatly benefit from this process. My background is in governmental television where I produce instructional or informative, videos, news packages, PSAs and tape training events for employees and County residents.

    Unfortunately, we don’t test or survey the target audience if the video they watched has changed their opinion or help them learn the information necessary to perform a certain task. We do however, work SMEs and they are the ones that will approve the finally project. But I’ve always thought that before or after a program or a PSA airs we should research the reaction of target audience to figure out how we can improve the product. Management focuses on quantity and not quality when it comes to programming. They count the number of originally programs hours produced to justify production, which is great…but I think we could do more and strengthen our viewership and funding by performing quantitative or qualitative research on our target audience.

  5. Beth,

    You are very lucky to be able to directly apply what you are learning in class directly to your projects at work, or rather apply what you have been doing at work to your team project in class.
    It is clear that big social media websites such as Google and Facebook are in continual iterative development within their user-centered design process to meet user expectations and increasing needs.

    Thank you for an interesting post.

  6. Although the ideal scenario involves gathering a group of users to get their feedback on each version of your product, I haven’t found that to be the norm in the corporate training world. Usually on the projects I’ve worked on, we tap into subject matter experts (just like a few others have mentioned above). We rely on the SMEs to give us feedback on the content and the usability of what we’re developing. Then, users usually get involved once we have a “camera ready” training product (often a full first draft of a course). This, I believe, is one of the big differences between usability testing – which I think of as more closely associated with software development – and cyclical evaluation as part of the training development process. I find that in software development, it’s a generally accepted best practice to bring users in for feedback along the way (in addition to SMEs), but it’s not so common in training development. Hopefully we can start to shift that perspective, because it seems pretty clear that we’ll end up with better products as a result!

  7. Hi Beth,

    I think you bring up great points in your wiki post, one of which you include a simple but meaningful statement of Cardozo (2002) “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Which I most definitely agree with, when it comes to the communication between the Designers and stakeholders. [which can be a key factor for a successful outcome]

    Another point you brought up that got me thinking is when you mentioned teams developing an understanding of teams members methods, styles [for team tasks and responsibilities that best suit each members natural styles] Also, by understanding roles within our teams, you can develop strengths and manage weaknesses as a team.

    Working within a team was not easy at first [ whether at work or at school], I found it difficult to work with a team and preferred to work individually. Work then trained me to become more familiar with working in teams, where I often worked with the same team members. As I became more familiar with the different members of my team and working within teams, I appreciate and understand the value of working within a team while recognizing how effective it can be. So I definitely understand and agree with Carozo on the importance of this point.

  8. Beth,

    Your blog is great and offers several agreeable and informative points, some in which I may relate to my current work environment.
    As a staff at Georgetown University (GU) financial aid department (OSFS), we strives to make it financially possible for every qualified applicant to enroll at Georgetown University, to thereby ensure that we recruit and retain a talented and diverse learning community. OSFS staff are pressured in persuading parents and students in every possible way that GU offers the best and contributes a sufficient amount of aid for students to educate themselves in a high prestigious university.
    You’ve stated, “Advertisers want a product to experience high traffic and have high awareness.” I view that our staff may perhaps occasionally act as advertisers for the university; many callers inform us that the students’ admission to the university relies on whether they are receiving financial aid. Though financial aid is not a tangible product that we advertise, however it is considered to be a source/product in permitting students to enroll in the university and achieve a degree.
    Furthermore, advertising and assisting parents and students to apply for financial aid at Georgetown University is not an easy task. While working in a team and as a team OSFS staff constantly works on developing different strategies to offer the best to students, such as in finding the best method of spreading the word of financial aid offered to students in GU, as well as developing a clear and a user-friendly website that answers all questions parents and students may have while making the process of applying for financial aid an easy task; with the continuous development of new technology OSFS always consider adopting a new technology for the sake of improvement and for a positive outcome. As a team we work on learning, exploring, and testing new products and methods while consulting one another throughout the process; so I definitely agree with Cardozo statement, “Understanding how to work within a team is critical to success initerative development”

  9. Hi Beth,

    thanks for sharing your own working experience using iterative development. Just as you reflected from chapter 1-3, I also learned that the whole design process must involve collaboration among three parties, the designer, stakeholder and user.

    Furthermore, as Kuniavsky states, “A product’s end-user experience is the cornerstone to its success. A good user experience doesn’t guarantee success, but a bad one is nearly always a quick route to failure” (p18). We should always keep in mind that the product we are developing is for the end users, and our goal is that they can use it and learn from it, not completing a product in a way that the designers assume it to be used.

    Ying

  10. Hi Beth,
    I was thinking about your statements concerning designers understanding user needs and designers needing to consult with all stakeholders. Specifically, you wrote, “A designer who does not understand the needs of the stakeholders will not be able to create a successful product.”

    Would you agree that these stakeholders do not always tell us what they really need? I do not mean that anyone is deliberately trying to lead a designer astray; but, I do believe that stakeholders sometimes do not really know what they need … they think they do; but they don’t. So, I would think that observing stakeholders would be valuable, too. I think watching what they do is sometimes more revealing to listening to what they say. 🙂

    Great post!

  11. We also use the iterative design process at my job. All of our training projects include a Storyboard, Alpha and Beta phases. Unfortunately, the end users are not always consulted at the end of each phase, it is more often than not the main project that makes the decision for their end users. I have found oftentimes that after a project manager has approved the Beta version of a training product and their end users have a chance to go through the training, there are areas that could of used more information or some that could be eliminated from a training course since that information may not be useful or needed for their end users. Many training projects languish on the side waiting months after they have been initially developed before their end users even have a chance to see them. Working in a government environment, it is more advantageous for a project manager to have something get out the door on time, than to take the extra time to have training in each phase of development be reviewed by the end user. Only very recently, have our various project managers from the different services engaged the end user at the very beginning of the content development process. On one of the development projects I’m working on, the customer requested to have a series of focus groups with their end users to provide analysis on what should be included in the training to go along with an update to their current software. Although, we did get great feedback on what items should be included in the training, another unexpected result of the focus groups was the general confusion some of the users had when using the software product. In this case, it would of been more beneficial for my customer to have a focus group when they were updating their software, than having one to define training requirements.


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