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Software Engineering v User centred design

Posted by Dawn on May 15, 2008

Some interesting issues were raised at the Streamline meeting on Tuesday, concerning the differences between software engineering (SE) process and user centred design process promoted by JISC funded research. The general gist is that to design a novel algorithmic process the focus of the software development is on those aspects that run behind the scenes. Where as development via user feedback requires a visual interface to convey the functionality of the system to the users, which is usually the last job in traditional development processes. As our experienced software engineer Mark Dixon, who raised the issue, pointed out this does raise further concerns on the quality and rigorousness of the software, not to mention problems with the integration of functions.


From my experience (which is considerably less than Marks) of developing prototype systems for conveying conceptual ideas, the user centred design fits rather well, using a iterative development process. However we are looking to have products that can be released for use by the rest of the community with solid API’s for integration with other products. So do we have a problem, or is this an opportunity to explore and develop a new SE methodology? This is an important issue and I would like to encourage its discussion, particularly among those with development process (of any type) experience.



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