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EU Project Support

Guide to incorporating usability and User Centred Design in EU projects

Contents

Get Support for an EU project

One of the most important objectives of UsabilityNet was to provide IST projects with support for user-centred project development and quality assurance through information resources and free consultation services.

The Tenuta project will soon be providing eTEN projects with on-site support. For more information contact Nigel Bevan.

Guideline Document

UsabilityNet provides you with the guideline document "First Steps to User-Centred Design", containing simple guidelines for the incorporation of user-centred design and references to other relevant resources. The document covers all important phases of the user centred lifecycle: Analysis and Requirements, Design and Prototyping, Evaluation (Test& Measure), Implementation and Management. A checklist at the end of the document makes it possible to uncover the most important decision points and problem areas in your project.

Usability in the IST programme

The IST programme is strongly oriented to the concept of user-centredness, as can be seen in the following quotation:

"Research will focus on the future generation of technologies in which computers and networks will be integrated into the everyday environment, rendering accessible a multitude of services and applications through easy-to-use human interfaces. This vision of "ambient intelligence" places the user, the individual, at the centre of future developments for an inclusive knowledge-based society for all (IST in Fp6, http://www.cordis.lu/ist/fp6/fp6.htm#Roadmap).

The three areas of "core technologies" that are to be developed within the IST (Fp6) should be mobile communication infrastructures and computing technologies, intelligent user-friendly interfaces and the optimisation of micro-system components. All these technologies have to be focused on the users' needs and expectations in order to facilitate success.

As a consequence, EU projects should be oriented to User Centred Design principles from the beginning of the project. UsabilityNet offers cost-free support for EU Projects with regard to User Centred Design issues.

Usability in EU projects

The following issues and questions related to UCD often arise for novices in EU projects.

  • Project participants may have difficulties in defining and organising UCD activities in the project workplan. An easy way (especially for UCD novices) would be to provide a separate workpackage accompanying the whole project. The responsibility for this workpackage should have an evaluation partner who is experienced in the field of user-centred design (including Human Computer Interaction, Usability Engineering, Human Factors).
  • The activities in the project workplan should be iterative, i.e. they should facilitate stepwise accommodation to user-centredness. For instance, one could provide for each of the various project and development stages the following subtasks: (1) assess structure and content of web site, (2) assess graphic design, and (3) assess complete overall design.
  • When planning user-centred acitivities for a EU project, the required effort is often difficult to estimate for inexperienced project participants. For a better orientation, a rule of thumb would be to envisage 6 to 9 person months for user-centred activities (analysis, evaluation, design input, etc.) in an average-sized EU project.
  • Once a project is already approved, project participants might think that there is no possibility to increase user-centredness of their project plan. Usually, there are still some possibilities to redefine project tasks or to provide user-centred evaluation by sub-contracting external consultants. Furthermore, support networks (such as UsabilityNet) offer assistance by means of web site resources or consultation.
  • Very often, EU project participants underestimate the commission's demand of a detailed documentation of the project activities and outcomes. As a consequence, it is recommended to use standardised formats and to explicitly describe the methodology of development and evaluation.

 

Updated 10 Jan 2005


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