User studies : a practical approach to user involvement for gathering user needs and requirements

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Doctoral thesis (article-based)
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61, [66]
Acta polytechnica Scandinavica. Ma, Mathematics and computing series, 116
This thesis investigates the role of user involvement in the early phases of product development. It is generally believed that usability and more accurate user requirements are achieved through the involvement of potential users in product development. First, the benefits and challenges of user involvement identified in the literature were reviewed. It was discovered that early user involvement has positive effects on user and customer satisfaction and requirements quality, but it may additionally have negative effects on product development time and cost. A practical approach to early user involvement referred to as 'user study' was synthesised to find a way to apply cost-effectively early user involvement to real product development contexts. The goal of the user study is cost-effectively to gather data on users and their needs and to translate them to user requirements that support the development of useful and usable products. The user study approach was then evaluated in four case studies in five different product development companies. The first and second study focused on the usefulness of user studies. The third study investigated introducing the user study approach to a real product development context. The fourth study concerned representing the results of user studies: bridging the gap between user needs and user requirements. The results presented in the thesis reveal that early user involvement is useful even in a short time frame with relatively low costs. The results additionally provide further support for the successful implementation of user involvement in the early phases of the product development.
user involvement, usability, user needs, user requirements, requirements elicitation
Other note
  • Kujala, S. (2002). User Involvement: A Review of the Benefits and Challenges. In Soininen, T. (Ed.), Preprints, Software Business and Engineering Institute, Helsinki University of Technology, Report no.: HUT-SoberIT-B1. Espoo, Finland, pp. 1-32.
  • Kujala, S. and Mäntylä, M. (2000). Studying Users for Developing Usable and Useful Products. In Gulliksen, J., Oestreicher, L., Severinson Eklundh, K. (Eds.), NordiCHI2000, Design versus Design (Proceedings of 1st Nordic Conference on Computer-Human Interaction), pp. 1-11.
  • Kujala, S. and Mäntylä, M. (2000). How Effective Are User Studies? In McDonald, S., Waern, Y., and Cockton, G. (Eds.), People and Computers XIV (Proceedings of Human-Computer Interaction 2000 Conference), Springer-Verlag, pp. 61-71.
  • Kujala, S., Kauppinen, M., and Rekola, S. (2001). Bridging the Gap between User Needs and User Requirements. In Avouris, N. and Fakotakis, N. (Eds.) Advances in Human-Computer Interaction I (Proceedings of the Panhellenic Conference with International Participation in Human-Computer Interaction PC-HCI 2001), Typorama Publications, pp. 45-50. [article4.pdf] © 2001 PC-HCI. By permission.
  • Kujala, S., Kauppinen, M., and Rekola, S. (2001). Introducing User Needs Gathering to Product Development: Increasing Innovation and Customer Satisfaction. In Hirose, M. (Ed.), Human-Computer Interaction INTERACT '01 (Proceedings of Interact 2001 Conference), IOS Press, pp. 856-861.
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