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HCI  /  Software Engineering for Usability

Software Engineering for Usability

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3. Three development contexts

Jonathan Grudin points out (Grudin 1991a; Grudin 1996) that there are three major contexts of software development:

* Competitive contract development

* Internal or in-house development

* Commercial product development

and that the differences between these three contexts make it likely that different problems will occur and that different techniques will be useful in each context.

"In competitive contract development, users and developers are in distinct organizations. They are typically geographically separated, face legal barriers to communication, and may find it impractical to renegotiate a contract to exploit user feedback. Much design occurs for inclusion in a request for proposals, before the developers are identified. ...

In internal or in-house development, barriers to communication can exist, but having users and developers in the same organization and identifiable from the outset creates possibilities for interaction. ...

Commercial product or package development differs from either of the preceding. Again, users and developers are separated, creating difficulties for user involvement in design. Developers are engaged early but encounter obstacles, often including strong time constraints." (Grudin 1996).

Grudin notes that whereas most of the industrial HCI researchers come from the commercial product context, the Scandinavian participatory design techniques came out of the in-house development context that is prevalent in Europe.

Some development contexts are a mixture of those outlined above. Grudin notes that sometimes a small product development company takes on some characteristics of the in-house context since often a small company is closer to its customers.

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